Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thank You, Tiny Chainring

Well, I finished...  And that's about all the bragging rights I have.

First, let's start with the stats.  CIRREM 2011 was a 63+ mi snow covered gravel course with about 4500 ft of total climbing.  Temps were in the low to mid 20's with occasional freezing rain and very little wind. I finished in six hours, which is about an hour longer than I was expecting.  Yuck.

The theme of this party was leg cramps, and I had my fill of cake. I felt the familiar twinge in my right quad early on, but otherwise I was feeling good and even running above my expected pace.  I tried taking it a little easier on the hills, but 25 miles in I started cramping up.  Around mile 40 or so my legs locked up.  Not long after I was walking some of the steeper hills.  Finally, 48.8 miles in I pulled over for a much needed a pop tart break.  I stood there for a little while, relaxing, taking time to just enjoy where I was.  Two riders passed, but I didn't pay it much mind. 

Feeling somewhat refreshed, I hopped back on the bike and took off again.  It wasn't long before I joined up with another racer who was going about the same pace as me, so I decided to ride with him for a while.  It's pretty rare that I spend more than 10 or 15 minutes riding with someone on these events, but we kept each other company all the way to the finish.  We took it easy, walked a few hills, chatted about work, bikes and racing and just enjoyed the rest of the ride.  So...  Jared from Ames, thanks for keeping me company.  I hope your knee is feeling better.  See you at Trans Iowa.

Overall, I had a good time.  It was a great course and with the fresh snow the scenery was amazing.  Even though I climb like a slinky and fought cramps for most of the ride, I did enjoy the hills they threw at us.  Still, this race showed me that I have a lot of work to do between now and April 23rd if I'm going to have any hope of doing anything impressive in Trans Iowa.  But hey, that's what we do...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Junk and Stuff From the Last Week

Zoe a.k.a. Bubbleface

- Last week the Incredimutt developed an abscess in the root of her tooth which lead to a sizable lump under her eye.  I briefly entertained the idea that she was bitten by something radioactive and would develop some super dog powers, like maybe the ability to not urinate when nervous or excited.  No such luck.  It was just an infection and she had to have a couple teeth pulled.

- Got out on the nature trail at lunch yesterday for the first time since the snow melted.  I was hoping that since the temps were around freezing and there was no snow I could finally ride the unpaved sections.  Instead it was a gooey mess.  Bummer.  I didn't feel like getting slop-nasty or gouging out the trail, so I turned around and did a couple sprints on the paved sections instead.

- CIRREM is coming up this weekend.  Spent a couple hours out in the shop tonight getting my bike ready and doing some organizing.  By the way, front rack mounts are a perfect place to attach a mini-pump.  Also makes the Surly look like more of an adventure bike.  Bonus!

- Archer is on.  Shows this awesome deserve my undivided attention so... 

Monday, February 14, 2011

One more for the trophy room

That's not right...

This is the third rear derailleur I've mangled in my roughly 15 years of on again/off again cycling.  One every five years would be a pretty good average, I suppose, if there weren't long layoffs thrown in there.  Still, not to bad I guess.

The first one was a stick that got caught in my rear wheel while I was riding the John Muir trails in Wisconsin with some friends.  Total damage was a mangled cage and a busted derailleur hanger.  I was able to rig it up as a single speed long enough to get to some pavement, at which point my chain snapped.  My friends took turns pushing me the mile and a half back to the trail head, two pushing while one rested.  They got the workout that day.

Fast forward a couple years and I was doing a race on the same trail system.  A couple miles from the finish my bike started shifting crappy when suddenly...  SnapCracklePopCrunchGrind.  The upper (carbon) body sheared off at the pivot.  No time to fix this one, so I ran the last mile or so to the finish.  I still earned bragging rights by finishing 10 seconds ahead of my teammate ;-)

I wish I could say I had a good story for what happened yesterday.  Nope, not so lucky this time.  After five hours I found myself just outside of town, trying to talk myself out of adding another short one hour loop, when my rear wheel locked up and I came skidding to a halt.  Not exactly sure how since I wasn't shifting, nor was I in my largest cog, but the derailleur had gotten tangled up in my spokes.  I yanked it back out and limped home, somewhat relieved to have a decent excuse for not meeting my original six hour commitment.

Total damage:
- The derailleur is pretty much shot and needs to be replaced.
- The rear wheel now rubs the brake pad.  No biggie there though since I bought it used and was taking it in to get trued this week anyway.
- The derailleur hanger looks like it may be bent.  Gonna let the bike shop take care of that one.

I'm guessing it'll be a week before the Surly is ready to roll again.  Looks like I'll be getting some quality road riding in until then. 

One final note:  The remains of those first two derailleurs were combined to form a new, more powerful super derailleur that is still being used on my hardtail today.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

T-shirt weather...

Enjoy it while it's there...

Finally, temps above freezing.  Unfortunately between work, errands and date night with the lady I'll be lucky to get in two hours of riding today.  Tomorrow is another story, though.  Anything less than six hours will be a fail.  A cool hundred on gravel would be perfect.  Trans Iowa is only ten weeks away and I need the mileage.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


This sign was nailed to the utility pole, 20 feet off the ground.  I wonder how many times it was stolen before they put it up there.

Went out today to explore some new-to-me gravel and level B I've been meaning to check out.  Ended up having an incredible ride.  Near freezing temps feel almost tropical after single digit and low teen rides.  The sun poked out every now and then and the fresh snow made for great views.  I rolled for a few hours, occasionally taking pictures and riding with no intention other than just enjoying myself.  After I got back home and cleaned up, we headed over to my boss's for a sledding party.  It was a great day all around. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I don't have a rabbit.
I just finished making enough biscuits and gravy to feed half the company for work tomorrow and now I'm relaxing with a cold beer.  I say "beer" because "Mike's pink lemonade" doesn't sound nearly as manly.  I probably lost the rights to half my chest hair once I opened the bottle.  The other half was forfeit when I told you I made biscuits and gravy.  Chicks dig a bald chest and a frilly apron, right?

So I've been daydreaming about building my own bike frame.  Got the garage/workshop cleaned out enough that I'll probably order a 29er tube kit I saw on Nova Cycles Supply.  I wanted my first frame to be lugged but there isn't much to choose from in MTB lugs so it'll probably be welded instead.  Right now I'm envisioning a drop bar steel 29er since the hardtail is about to be retired.  I'm hoping I can have something rideable in time for Dirty Kanza.  I've got just enough design and metalworking experience (and friends with equipment) that I'm confident I can pull this off.  From there, I've got a few other design ideas I want to futz around with.  Gravel grinder with polished stainless steel lugs and a wood or bamboo frame is at the top of that list.

I'm also thinking about taking some of the heated insoles that are out on the market and building up a new controller for them.  My assumptions with the ones out there is that they are either on or off.  I don't need constant heat so I want to design a controller that you can program to cycle on and off to extend battery life.  I may also add a wireless remote into the mix so I can control it from the handlebars.  I'm planning on doing at least one more winter race in addition to Triple D next year, so this will really help.

Archer is on right now.  I love this show.

My boss is having a sledding party at his house on Saturday.  Got an old steel saucer sled and a great mod idea for it.  Only have a night and a day to implement it.  I can do this...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Summer Daydreamin'

Shaky helmet cam footage for that total immersion nauseousness.  If I could embed scratch-and-sniff I would.  I'm all about realism, baby!

"great footage of your front wheel...!"  That was the snarky-but-true comment left today on my Potter Hill video from RAGBRAI 2010.  Funny :-P  Still, the timing was good because I've had RAGBRAI on my mind the last few days.  Last year I threw a front brake on my fixie, strapped on the helmet cam and did the final day with a few friends from work.  The video above is my leg-burning climb up Potter Hill road.  We had a lot of fun and are planning on riding the last two days this year.  In fact, once the route was announced I got online and reserved a campsite at Sugarbottom for the Coralville overnight.  Yeah, it's months away...  But the distraction from the current winter suck is nice. 

Alright, back to the here-and-now.  Gotta suck it up and drag the trainer up from the basement.  I blew off my lunch workout so now I have to make up for it.  Wish I could ride outside instead, but we're being hit with this year's blizzard of the century.  I'm pretty sure I just saw a yeti fly past the window...