Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Blahs

Turn left and I'm home in an hour.  Head right and I'm grinding for another two and a half.  I took the easy way out tonight.

I left the house with every intention of a 4+ hour ride today, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Physically I was fine, but when I hit the point of no return I wussed out and cut it short.  I just wasn't in the mood for a long one today.  This time of year I'm usually getting pretty tired of winter, so that may have played into it.  Still got two and a half hours in, but more would have been better.  Oh well, sometimes you have to fail.

I did get a couple decent pics though. Click on the image to Viagrafy...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I wonder if they even questioned it...

On the first issue that came the mailman drew a question mark next to the name.

Years ago when I was working at my uncle's polishing shop we'd occasionally get a group together for a lunch order.  Any time I called in an order that someone else was picking up I'd give a fake name.  My favorite was "Lord Nibbles, Patron of the Hamster Clan".  Think I'll try that on my next subscription.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Making snow angels...

Results and pics from Triple D were posted today and I have a new favorite race picture.  This might have to be turned into Christmas cards next year.  What you see is crash #2 from my previous blog post.  Full slide show can be found here.

A couple final notes on Triple D while I'm on the topic.  A little over an hour of my race was spent not moving.  25-30 minutes of this was in check points, the rest of the time was spent waiting for traffic, eating, swapping gloves or just resting.  Two things that could have knocked this down dramatically are pogies and and accessible feed bag.  Not that I'm playing shoulda-woulda-coulda.  My one goal this race was to finish so I'm very happy with how I did.  This is more of a how-can-I-improve-in-the-future thing.

Moving on...

Did my first ride outside today since the race.  I'm pretty much on the tail end of my cold so I wanted to get outdoors for a bit.  My plan was was to ride out on the snow and come back on the gravel, but it didn't quite go down that way.  In fact, it was actually kind of a crappy ride filled with little issues.  I had to readjust my seat right from the start, which could have been an omen of things to come.  Once I got going I rolled out to catch the snowmobile trails in Lisbon.  I found a good line at the start that took me deep enough into the cornfields to not turn back, then the snow turned to mush.  As I was trudging through, my front wheel suddenly seized up.  I rolled it back and forth a couple times, checked the brakes and rims and finally found the culprit.  Apparently my studs had grabbed a corn cob and wedged it between my tire and fork.  Not much to do but laugh and throw my new souvenir in my pocket.  I decided then that my new term for locking up my front wheel is "Getting Corncob'd".   Sounds just dirty enough for a fratboy high five...

So I trudged on til I hit some gravel and took off for a quick five mile loop.  I started getting cold pretty quick since I wasn't dressed for the winds that come with higher speed riding and decided to turn back and cut my ride short.  My tire pressure was pretty low so I took a minute to air it up.  This was when I found out my new mini-pump was Schroeder only.  What the hell?!?  Guess I should have paid closer attention to that when I bought it.  I'm pretty lucky I didn't flat at Triple D.  I'll have to throw an adapter in my bag for my next ride.  Lucky for me I wasn't too far from home, so I just took it easy the rest of the way.

Tomorrow will be an endurance ride.  I was hoping to do it on the snow, but it looks like I'll be stuck with gravel.  That's fine though, I've been wanting some more bonding time with the Surly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Triple D Recap

Rolling out...

"Just think, this is the best you're going to feel all day".  Encouraging words from my girlfriend Deb shortly before the start. Thanks, babe.  I brushed off that thought as I toed up to the line.  Yeah, there was going to be suffering, but that's what draws me to these events.  I know I'm in no danger of winning anything so I do them for the personal challenge, to see how much I can take before I break.  The tougher the event, the higher the rate of attrition, the more inclement the weather...  The better the adventure.  And that's what I'm in it for.

So Sunday saw me taking on my latest challenge, the 2011 Triple D.  65 miles of winter goodness on the snowmobile trails of northeast Iowa.  30+ cyclists lined up alongside the Mississippi River in Dubuque, ready to take on the elements. Temps were hovering in low double digits and winds were calm as we rolled out shortly after 10am.  The pace was relaxed as we rolled through the streets of Dubuque and opened up once we hit the snow.  The choppy, choppy snow.  This was the part of the trail that race organizer Lance Andre later called a "lunar landscape".  We bounced around for about a mile before heading through an underpass and squeezing past a small gap in the fence just beyond it  At this point we were on proper snowmobile trails paralleling Arterial road.  We made a couple road crossings and then were weaving up and down hills that required a lot of hike-a-bike for me.  On we rolled past shopping centers, along business parks and through snowy fields (crash #1) until we were spit out on Humke road at about 15 miles in.  We followed Humke to the infamous-if-you-rode-RAGBRAI Potter Hill, where we jumped on the level B road that runs down the back side.

And then...  Crash #2. 

As I was barreling down the level B I caught a rut that left me sprawled out in the snow along the side of the road.  Luckily it was a soft landing so I picked myself up, dusted myself off and grabbed my bike.  As I started off again I saw something I hadn't noticed before...  The photographer.  He told me he got the crash on film, so that pic is definitely gonna be a keeper.

A mile later and I was on the Heritage trail, heading towards Dyersville.  The trail here was packed down and pretty straight, so it got a little dull for a while.  That, coupled with a very slight incline over the next 8 miles ended up wearing me down to the point where I was starting to feel a little beat.  I fired up the ipod and ground it out until I passed Lance on his way back.  He shouted out some words of encouragement that fired me up again (good job, warm pizza and cold beer ahead, etc.) and for the next five miles I was flying and feeling great.

I pulled into the Dyersville checkpoint a little after 2pm, four hours into the race.  Deb was waiting for me with some fresh clothing and snacks.  I grabbed a few slices of pizza, restocked and hung out a little while to warm up.  20 minutes later, I was on my way again.  Back to the grind.

And so it went to Durango.  I stopped a few times to eat or swap gloves, and at one point I got off and walked for about five minutes to warm up my feet.  I pulled into the Durango checkpoint at 7:15 and was off again five minutes later.  I hit the outskirts of Dubuque at around 8, where I met up with another racer who had lost the trail.  We rode together for a bit until we found ourselves in a parking lot with no clear direction of where to go.  We wandered around, were met by a third racer, and then found our way again.  Looking back, I'm glad we were delayed until the third guy got there because he bailed us out of another wrong turn that could have meant a lot of extra riding.

Squeeze past the fence, through the underpass, over the lunar landscape and the three of us were back on the streets of Dubuque.  A few minutes later we pulled into the hotel parking lot and headed up to the official finish line, on the second floor of the Grand Harbor Resort.  After 8 1/2 frigid hours, my first snow race was officially over.  I figured I'd earned a few treats so I helped myself to some pizza, a couple margaritas and a massage.

Miscellaneous race notes:
- Finished in 16th place.  24 people finished in all, including the first female finisher in Triple D history.
- Had problems with my seat that I've had in the past.  The clamp loosened up on me and my seat moved all the way back, putting extra stress on my shoulders and back.  I stopped at around mile 40 to readjust it and it was fine the rest of the way.
- I ran with a studded tire on the front, which probably saved me from a couple crashes.  I was pretty happy with it's performance.
- More than an hour of my time was spent standing still.  I can drop that significantly with better access to food and clothing.
- There was a winter race seminar the night before that I'm glad I caught.  Got me interested in the tougher winter races. 
- Surprisingly, I didn't see any wildlife other than a turkey.  I was expecting to at least see some deer.

Alright, that's it.  I have a new story to tell and another epic race on my resume.  Time to turn my attention to my next adventure...Trans Iowa.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick summary of Triple D

Done, finished, sore and on my way to bed.  I finished mid pack in about 8 1/2 hours.  Hooray!  The cold I've been fighting all week (that has now taken residence in my chest) didn't bother me at all out on the trail, but is now back with a vengeance.  Gonna go try to sleep it off with the help of some Zicam now.  I'll post a full race report sometime within the next day or two.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Triple D preparation

Freshly studded Mountain King

Triple D is coming up on Sunday and I've started getting my equipment together.  Got my front tire studded tonight and I'll be doing the rear tomorrow.  I'll also be throwing a rigid fork on my hardtail and getting that prepped for the race.  I was originally considering the dualie since the trail I ride at lunch is pretty choppy and the suspension comes in handy, but it doesn't have a lot of clearance and the studded tires won't fit.  Therefore, rigid it is.

I'm also going to be setting the bike up with some extra storage capacity.  I've got a clamp-on rack that will be going on and I picked up a handlebar bag today for food and other stuff I need to get to get to easily.  Tire changing goodies will be going in the seat pack and everything else goes in the camelback.  I have a frame pack, but unfortunately it won't fit on this bike. Bummer...

Clothing will be my standard winter stuff which is generally a thermal base layer and a wind layer if it's windy.  If it gets really cold I may add a fleece top to the mix.  Gloves are relatively light since insulated gloves make my hands sweat even at low temps.  Shoes are Pearl Izumi Barriers.  I'm also toying with the idea of ski goggles if it gets really cold. 

Food will be my standard Vanilla Bean GU, plus some chocolate Pop Tarts and Powerbars for when I'm craving something solid.  I'm still undecided how I'm handling hydration.  For long rides I typically fill the camelback with water plus Elete and carry a couple brawndo filled bottles.  I don't have any insulated bottles though so I may just throw the brawndo in the camelback and skip them altogether.  We'll see.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

War paint

 Kinda dry out there today...

Took the Cross Check out today for it's first gravel ride.  Rode for four hours and was pretty happy with how the bike felt.  It rode smooth and climbing was definitely easier than on the MTB.  The brakes were woefully underpowered though.  I think I can tweak the setup to get them to perform better though, so I'm not too worried about them right now.  I was also a little worried about the gearing, but it worked well for me today so I think it'll be fine.

As for me, the ride went alright.  The cramping that plagued me last season made a little bit of a comeback, but it wasn't as bad.  I never actually cramped up, I just had the initial warning twinges.  I'm not too bothered by it though, since it could have been a lot worse.  I didn't bring any brawndo with me and my camel back was straight water, so I wasn't taking in any electrolytes.  Plus, my eating habits over the last month have been, well, not exactly performance enhancing.  I think the weight lifting I've been doing this winter helped keep the muscle twinges from turning into full on leg-locking cramps, so I'll be sticking with that program.  I was also craving solid food during my ride.  Last year solid food didn't agree with me so I stuck to GU and brawndo. Guess I'll have to change up my ride diet, or at least carry more Pop Tarts with me.

No real wildlife sightings today, other than the typical birds you see out in rural IA.  There was one Horn-Blaring Redneck, but I'm not sure if I can count that.  Maybe I will anyway.  Seems fitting...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A proper gravel grinder

Yes, that's a triple and it matches my fanny pack.

Finished my Cross Check tonight after a three evening build.  There were enough little issues for it to be my most problematic build to date, but I'm excited now that it's up and running.  Tomorrow will be it's maiden-voyage-slash-fine-tuning-ride before taking it out for reals on Saturday.  Can't wait ;-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rabbi-Cat sighting, didn't get an accurate ass count...

In 50 years, this photo will be famously known as the introduction to my "finger in the lens" collection...

Got out yesterday for the first ride of the new year, which also served as a birthday ride.  Well, I'm going to call it a metric birthday ride since I didn't get the actual mileage in to make it a true birthday ride.  It was a little breezy, but otherwise it was a great ride.  The plow-leveled and frozen roads made a good chunk of it ride like pavement.  It was nice having an average speed back up in the double digits again.   Also, Saw three deer and one rabbi-cat.  The deer are standard fare on my rides, but the rabbi-cat...  That's new. Right now I'm theorizing it's the result of some meth lab mad scientist genetics experiment, cuz I'm thinking gene splicing is a viable hobby for the bored cooker who has a little free time on his hands. 

Today...  Today was for the gym.  I've been lifting over the off-season to try and help with the cramps that like to strike on my longer rides and races.  Nothing major, just low weights and high reps 2-3 times a week.  Over the next couple weeks we'll see how much it's helped.

Oh, I made the roster for Ragnarok 105.  Postcard goes in tomorrow for the Royal 162, since I forgot to send it today.  DK registration opens on the 15th and that will round out the first half of my season.  Should be fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The 2011 Agenda

Triple D, Trans Iowa, DK200...  There's going to be a lot of Hammerstache this year. 

New year, big year.  Some of what's in store for me...

- Triple D (Registered/on the roster)
- CIRREM (Registered/on the roster)
- Ragnarok 105 (Card sent in, waiting for the selection)
- Trans Iowa (Registered/on the roster)
- Almonzo 100 or Royal 162 (Post card gets mailed in on Monday)
- Dirty Kanza 200 (Planned)

Other big maybe's:
- Unnamed Epic
- Gravel Worlds
- Levis Trow 100
- Jackrabbit Hundy
- 12 Hours of John Muir
- 12 Hours of Pitch Black Single Track

Also hoping for another Night Nonsense 100.  That'll definitely be an A race.

Lots of pain and suffering on tap.  Looking forward to it ;-)