Friday, December 28, 2012

Off For Tuscobia

 Training run - photo by The Powergoat

Shoving off for Tuscobia in a few minutes.  I'll be doing the 150 mile bike flavor starting at 6am Saturday morning.  For those interested in following, here's a couple clickables to get you there.  Have a good weekend and enjoy the snow!

Live tracking

Facebook updates

Tuscobia website

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Geeking on Gear

Partial gear check.

Sometimes it's almost as fun to get geeked out on the gear as it is to actually use it.  This is the mode I've been in the last couple weeks with Tuscobia and Arrowhead coming up.  I've been tweaking my clothing, gear and setup based on lessons learned from last year's races and current test runs and I'm liking how it's coming along.  I've ditched the panniers this year for a handlebar bag, which will be less kludgey and will force me to be more selective with my gear.  I still have to put my rear rack back on to hold my sleeping bag, and add my gas tank and feed bags to the mix, but otherwise I've got a decent shakedown of how I'm storing stuff.  A quick breakdown of my setup from tonight's test ride (not complete at this time):

Handlebar bag
- Bivy sack
- Self inflating matress (won't self inflate in the cold according to what I've read, but I can blow it up)
- Mid-weight merino wool long underwear
- Fleece pullover
- Wind vest
- Lobster gloves (might look at swapping these for mittens that fit over gloves)
- Down jacket
- Tuscobia Beanie

Frame bag
- 1 pint titanium pot
- Esbit stove (in pot)
- 12 Esbit tablets (in pot)
- Matches (in pot)
- Aluminum foil for wind screen (in pot)
- Light winter gloves
- Mid weight winter gloves
- Mid weight fleece balaclava
- Cold Avenger mask
- Glasses case
- Peanut butter (3000 calorie required minimum food)

Other bike gear
- Aero bars (handy for pushing a heavily loaded bike up steep hills)
- ATV bar mitts
- Bar ends (a must for me on flat bars)

Clothing (note: I was pretty overdressed for the temps that were in the mid teens.  This was intentional since I'm playing around with temperature regulation right now)
- Long sleeved, mid-weight base layer (synthetic)
- Long sleeve thermal jersey with full length zipper
- Mid-weight fleece with full length zipper
- Light balaclava
- Lightweight glove liners
- Bibbed shorts
- Lightweight, synthetic long underwear
- Soft shell pants with zippered leg vents and suspenders.  I'm really digging the suspenders.  Makes them comfy like bibbed shorts
- Mid-weight wool socks
- Insulted hunting boots sized 1.5 sizes larger than I normally wear for extra sock room
- Safety glasses
- Helmet

I was only a couple miles into my ride tonight before I had my top two layers almost completely unzipped and my leg vents open.  I figure this setup should be comfy at zero degrees and possibly down to -10F. With the extra layers I had on board, I figure I would have been good down to the low end of Arrowhead extremes, with the exception of my feet.  That may just be a matter of more socks, but worst case I have some overboots on the way that should get me down to those temps.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Good Start

Halfway there.
With winter racing coming up and Trans Iowa on the calendar again, it's time once again to set my well intentioned goals that I have a habit of failing to follow through with.  So far I'm doing a lot better this year though.  My TI goal weight is 160lbs, which would be 20lbs lighter than I raced at this year.  Right now I'm on track to hit that by the end of the year, which is a couple months ahead of schedule.  Whoooo me!  On top of that my training is going better than it was at this time last year, and between that and the weight loss I'm starting to see real improvements.  

There's a downside though...  I'm kinda missing that extra fat in this colder weather.  Between the dieting and lower body fat I'm finding that I have to re-think my layers.  Last night over the course of an hour I couldn't manage to get warm despite doing hill intervals.  Temps were upper teens with high single digit north winds and I thought I had dressed well enough for it.  A mid weight base layer, heavy long sleeve jersey and windbreaker vest up top, lightweight tights over long underwear on the bottom.  Wool socks with my winter cycling shoes for the feet, mid weight ski gloves and a beanie rounded things out.  Last year that probably would have been fine after 10-15 minutes of warming up.  Not so much now.  Toes froze, fingers were right behind the toes, and my core was chilly at best.

Tonight I was determined to be warm, even if it meant sweating a bit more than I'd normally like.  I traded the light vest for an insulated soft shell vest, the tights made way for soft shell pants, I added some neoprene covers to the shoes and finished things off with my Cold Avenger mask.  Winds were slightly less and the temps were about 5 degrees warmer.  Much, much better.  The mask ended up coming off less than two miles in since it just wasn't working well with my helmet and glasses (need to work on that) and I was never cold during a 45 minute light spin.  Additionally, the vest and jersey both have full length zippers so temperature adjustments could have been made on a longer ride to minimize sweating.  The kit weighed a few ell-bees more, but it was worth it.  Now I'll just have to hope for some colder temps to adjust my lower temp clothing.

Practice, experience and such.  Can't have enough.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gravel Conspiracy

Yep, that's pretty much how I felt.  Detailed ride report to come...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On The Upswing

Registration opens tomorrow for Arrowhead, count me in.  Signed up for the Tuscobia 150 a week ago.  Hitting the Night Bison this weekend and the Gravel Conspiracy the following week.  Gonna try to squeeze in a weekend of mountain biking in Wisconsin before the Moonshine Metric at the end of the month.  Things are picking back up and a laid back summer has me feeling fresh and excited to grind again.  I'm a month into the base building period of an actual structured training plan and I've already set a new PR on one of my one hour gravel loops.  I'm still a slow guy but I'm feeling the strongest that I have since '99, a year I fondly remember as "that one that I could actually win shit". 

Also, I'm pretty sure I just farted a rainbow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Summer Of...

... Whatever the hell I want to do.

I'll save you the three margarita sappiness I'm currently in the midst of.  Here's some pics.

Inspire away.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Moonshine Metric Date Announced

Mark your calendars for September 29th.  Nighttime gravel metric FTW.

For more details, hit up the website.

Moonshine Metric Official Website

See you there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From Then to Now

3GR ride from this weekend.

Oh yeah, that's right.  I have a blog.  I should probably write stuff on it.

I could write about Almanzo, and how it was no picnic for all the opposite reasons as last year.  Hot, dry, windy...  Ok, so the wind wasn't new.  I came into this one expecting a fun DK prep ride and hobbled away from it with a fisherman's story that will grow as it ages.  As of right now the temps were in the 90's and winds were 20+.  Next year we'll be sitting at the start line talking about how it was 112 in the shade and Buddha himself was pelting us with jello filled garden gnomes.

Speaking of fish stories, what about Dirty Kanza?  By the morning of the race that muddy B road from last year had grown to over five miles.  Sorry, folks.  It was 3.2 miles exactly.  I kept track as I rolled through on my way to the finish.  You'll have to switch to stories about the freak storm that moved through.  Those are much harder to verify.  Let's start the bidding at three funnel clouds and a flying llama.

I could talk about the weekly rides I've been doing with the local roadies, but I get dropped every time so let's skip that story.

How about a ride I didn't get dropped on.  I did 3GR last Saturday with Guitar Ted and Robert Fry.  25 miles of gravel at a brisk (for me) pace and a little pow-wow afterwards.  Definitely going to do that again, it was well worth getting up early for.

Maybe I'll write about non-bike stuff.  Charles has been on the DL since Trans Iowa so we've been getting together roughly once a week to hang out and shoot the toilet matter.  Tonight we cleaned a carburetor.  Next week we build a trailer mounted boom box.  The week after?  Good question.  When it happens though, I'll let you all know.  Or maybe not.  Guy stuff, yaknow.

Hmmm...  I seem to be at a loss for words these days.  Bloggers block?  Gypsy curse?  Indigestion?  Better sleep on it and try again later.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Glorious Kanza

 Last minute shuffle and I'll be out the door.  Meeting up with Don and Courtney in Emporia, KS for 200 miles of why the F#$! did I do this sweet Flint Hills gravel.  Weather's looking pretty perfect right now, a first for me in any gravel race.  As usual, I'll try to post updates on my Twitter feed (@10ftmidget).

I suppose once it's over I'll get off the slack wagon and actually post some bloggage again.  No posts in May?  Weak...

Enjoy your weekend :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trans Iowa 2012

Failure pile.

At around 6:30 Saturday night, I sent Charles a text message.

"Eating delicious Chinese right nowI asked, but they don't deliver to B roads.  Sorry."

He didn't mention it at the finish line.  I'm sure he had a well rehearsed comeback in mind, but I don't think he could lift his leg high enough to kick me in the crotch.

I was eating Chinese at 6:30 on Saturday because once again I had failed to finish Trans Iowa.  That morning I had teamed up with Courtney and together we drove through 20mph headwinds, soft peanut butter roads, fresh gravel and eventually a seemingly endless stream of rolling hills.  I was determined to make the first checkpoint before the cut this time and we rode the bubble for the first 40+ miles, pouring every bit of strength into a 10mph average.  We made it in time, and had even managed to bank an 18 minute buffer, but the damage had been done.  We used up our savings at the convenience store in town and even borrowed a few minutes from the next checkpoint.  We set off feeling decent, but it wasn't long before I realized I didn't have it in me to reach the next checkpoint in time.  60 miles into the race I urged Courtney to go on without me.  I'd rather ride alone than cost him a shot at making it through.  A couple miles down the road he started pulling ahead.  I sat up and watched him head off.  A short while later I stopped to call Deb and asked her to pick me up in Hedrick, conveniently located about 100 miles into the course.  I set off again, eventually joining up with Dave Mable and the two of us finished out our Trans Iowa centuries together at the Hedrick city limits.

Charles, on the other hand, was not eating Chinese because he was too busy pollinating the landscape with his awesomeness.  He had ridden the race with the fast folks up near the front and managed a 6th place finish in his first Trans Iowa, despite losing his rear derailleur near the end.  Two racers passed him as he walked the last seven miles of the course.  I told him I couldn't believe he hiked the last stretch.  He responded with a hoarse "what else was I supposed to do?"

So I sat there eating my shrimp and scallops while reflecting on the day.  I DNF'd for the second year in a row, but this time I wasn't upset about it.  I had improved significantly on last years performance and managed to push myself harder than I thought I could.  Even though I was spent after 60, I still eeked out a hundy on course with a little help from Dave.  I felt like I had walked away with a couple minor victories in the wake of failure. 

This race is bigger than I am, but I'll keep coming back.  Someday I'm hoping steady improvement and a bit of luck with the weather will finally see me through.  Until that happens, I'll keep scratching for those little wins.  After all, the only way I can truly fail is to stop trying.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Once upon a time there was a story called failure.  I sure hope the sequel is better...

Here we go again.  This time I'm considerably more prepared, although my April schedule has been wonky and I haven't got a lot of quality riding in over the last few weeks.  Still, training up until this month has been good and I'm feeling positive about where I'm at. 

For those who want to follow the race, Guitar Ted will be posting audio updates on his blog.  Don't count on hearing my name since I'll be hanging in my normal spot at the back of the pack, but at least it's updates.  If you want to know whether or not I'm still rolling, check my Twitter feed.  I doubt you'll see much from me during the race but I'll post when I'm done, DNF or otherwise.

Trans Iowa V8 Audio updates
Twitter (@10ftmidget)

Have a good weekend, folks.  Think of me every so often and realize that if I'm lucky...

 I'm still out there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exclusive! My Secret Cross-Training Methods Exposed!!!

Even among the crazy world of gravel grinders, Trans Iowa stands alone as the pinnacle of manliness.  Such a race requires training far beyond the norm, so five days ago I hitched a ride down to the Gulf of Mexico on the back of a flatbed hauling the next batch of champion fighting chickens, fashioned a raft out of no less than 12 live sea turtles and one slightly annoyed marlin and set sail for the Yucatan Peninsula.  What follows is a look inside my never before seen by man, super secret cross training program.  What you are about to see is so powerful, I guarantee you will grow at least three new chest hairs by the time you are done reading.

Are you ready?

Prepare to have your eye holes rocked!

Laying waste to the entire shoreline with a power flex shockwave.  Those waves are moving back out to sea, fleeing from my awesome might.

Destroying the clouds with mind bullets.  I keep my electrolyte levels high by filtering ocean water through my leg hairs. 

I'm not reading, I'm absorbing the essence of a thousand mighty redwoods.

During training, I subsist on a strict diet of fermented ox blood and local water.  I find the ox blood to be rich in minerals and raw, visceral power.  I drink the water because I like to break a gastrointestinal sweat too.

  Every training plan should include a recovery session.  Here, I relax in a hammock hand kitted for me by the mermaid I seduced with my superfresh dance moves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Got up Sunday morning at 12:30 in the AM, picked up Charles at 1:30 and arrived at Courtney's house in West Des Moines at around a quarter to four.  The three of us rolled out shortly after 4am for the Missouri border.  Details?  You betcha...

  • Trip stats:
    • 210 miles in the bank, 120ish being gravel.
    • 18 hours and 30 minutes to get the job done.
    • My best guess:  four to five miles of hike-a-bike and a couple dead ends.  
    • I believe our final B road count was 11.  I lost track though.
    • 7400ft of climbing through 192 miles, but sure felt like more.  That's on pace with Trans Iowa though.  I didn't get the last bit because my Garmin died, but it was fairly flat.
  • How I held up:
    • Pretty zen for the first 80 miles or so.  Didn't even mind the B road hiking.  Then I bonked a little.  Then I recovered.  Then I bonked big time.  I couldn't eat or drink much of anything the next 110 miles without wanting to throw it back up.  The lone exception was the frozen beef and bean burrito I tossed in my frame bag for a later treat.  That thing was mighty tasty when I finally got to it.
    • Physically I held up pretty well.  Legs felt fine until the end and my body was doing well.  Contact points were getting sore, but were still manageable.  My pace dropped a little after my first minor bonk, but not significantly.  I dropped off a bit after the big one, but picked it back up and did well enough the rest of the way that I'm not too worried about Trans Iowa, barring nasty conditions of course.
    • I got really cranky on the return trip.  I blame the bonk because I'd like people to think I'm not a grumpy asshole, but I should still try to not be like that at Trans Iowa.  Otherwise no one will want to ride with me.
  •  Random nuggets from the trip:
    • It was kind of the drunken, shirtless rednecks to take a moment away from incoherently yelling at each other while trying to free their mud-stranded jeep at 5 in the morning to remind us that we're "bicycle faggots".  Charles was nice enough to exchange pleasantries, mostly commenting on how much fun they must be having.  Courtney waxed something fancy about having a vehicle that could be carried out of a mud pit.  More concerned with the fact that they were drunk, greatly outnumbered us and still had a vehicle free, I kept my mouth shut and went to unholster my dickhead repellant.  Thankfully, shorter attention spans prevailed and I didn't have to ruin a perfectly good frame pump.
    • Derby, IA is a depressing town.  Main street is a post office buried in a row of abandoned and decaying brick buildings.
    • After trudging through the sixth or seventh B road, Courtney turned to his Garmin to try to reroute any other hike-a-bike sections.  Unfortunately, the Garmin was even more sadistic with its reroutes, leading Courtney to claim that it was stuck in Guitar Ted mode.  It was known as the Guitarmin the rest of the trip.
    • Gummy worms and candy orange slices aren't good endurance food.  
    • We found out that people will drive a long way for cheap cigarettes.  The lady working at the gas station in Missouri told us that she's had people drop $1000 in one trip on tobacco.  Ironically, those are the same people that think it's crazy to spend $1000 on a bicycle.  I can see their point though.  Bicycles don't burn all that well.
    • Charles has gone from being destroyed by a metric in mid-October to doing sprints at the end of a double because he wasn't feeling worked over enough.  I have to face the fact that I'll never be able to put the hurt on him again.  That makes me a sad panda.  By the way, he took third in a gravel race the day before. 
    • Regardless of how tired or lousy you feel when crawling out of bed, watching the sun rise through the mist on a quiet country road is worth the early start.  Always.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where I'm At

With Trans Iowa 5 weeks away I thought I'd spend a little time on a training recap.  While I've only been riding twice a week for most of the year to date, the quality of the rides have been good and I'm feeling considerably stronger and more prepared than I was at this time last year.  Leg cramps, which I was still dealing with a year ago, are well under control and physically I feel less beat after my hard efforts than I did back then. I'm actually feeling pretty confident about my chances of finishing TI this year.  Anyway, in more detail...  Here's what I've been doing and how I'll finish off my TI preparation.

  • I've been spending one night a week with Charles riding a section of hills south of town that we call the Rollers.  It's a gravel loop a little over 8 miles long with about half of that being short, steep rolling hills.  The other half has a couple longer hills, but is otherwise relatively flat.  Total climbing per lap is about 600ft, with the biggest hill being 120ft of elevation gain.  It doesn't sound like much, but these hills are steep!  We hit the roller section hard, with me generally taking the early lead due to a wheel eating bridge at the bottom of the first descent that I tend to bomb my way across while Charles takes it slower.  I can usually crest the first climb ahead of him but he always catches me on the second.  From that point on he'll either wait up for me and alternate attacks, or he'll go off on a flyer.  In either case, I redline it.  This is arguably the most important training we do and I've been seeing much improvement because of it.  We both ride out to it and meet along the way, so we get some extra bonus miles.  2-4 laps a night is typical, spanning 2-4 hours.  We'll be doing this up through Trans Iowa.
  • Every weekend, Charles and I hook up again for a long ride that is typically between 5 and 9 hours.  Last weekend we did our first gravel hundy of the year and we'll be doing 100+ mile rides through the second weekend of April, with April 1st being a double century with Courtney Hilton.  To date I have 5 gravel metrics, one gravel century, one snow metric (fixed gear) and one snow century.  I also have a 90 mile road ride under my belt.  Last year by this time I only had one snow metric and two (almost 3) gravel metrics.  
  • The last month or so I've been lifting 1-2 days a week at work, focusing on the upper body and core.  This is good for 45-90 minutes a week.  This is part injury prevention, part upper body endurance and mostly vanity.
  • I've also been spending 1-2 lunch hours a week on the new ellipticals we have at work.  Idea being, working some of those non-cycling muscles ought to help with cramping and injury.  My calves are seeing the biggest benefit here, but it also seems to be helping my B road slogging.  30-90 minutes a week.
  • The last couple weeks, and continuing through TI, I'll be spending 2-3 days a week doing whatever I want.  This is my anti-burnout workout.  Last week I did a night focused on B road hike-a-bike.  I slung my fully loaded bike across my back and hiked it 2.5 miles down a local stretch of muddy B.  Tomorrow I'll be doing a noon ride with some co-workers.  I don't focus on anything other than enjoying myself on these rides.
  • I've been stretching a few times a week for the last few weeks.  Again, this is mostly for injury prevention but I'm also hoping it helps with my bike positioning.
For you numbers geeks out there, here's the stats from the last 6 roller rides (variance due to where we meet on the way).  The last couple weeks have been huge for me in terms of improvement, but some of that could be due to the unusually warm weather we've been having.  Still, it's an encouraging sign.
  • 2/16/12
    • 23.5 miles (1 lap)
    • 1:53 ride time
    • 12.5MPH average
    • 1,342 ft climbing
  •  2/22/12
    • 31.4 miles (2 laps)
    • 2:29 ride rime
    • 12.6MPH average
    • 1923 ft climbing
  • 3/1/12
    • 42.4 miles (3 laps)
    • 3:32 ride time
    • 12.0MPH average
    • 2742 ft climbing
  • 3/7/12
    • 31.7 miles (2 laps)
    • 2:34 ride time
    • 12.3MPH average
    • 1922 ft climbing
  • 3/14/12
    • 50.9 miles (4 laps)
    • 3:53 ride time
    • 13.1MPH average
    • 3046 ft climbing
  • 3/21/12
    • 42.4 miles (3 laps)
    • 3:09 ride time
    • 13.5MPH average
    • 2438 ft climbing

Monday, March 12, 2012


Take a little time for yourself.

Let your mind float on the breeze.

Think about nothing.

Think about everything.

Live in the moment and leave all else behind.

You won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Sometimes I end conversations simply by saying "Terry Crews."  There is no rebuttal.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Failed Hundy

The instant Charles hit the gravel, the strong cross winds blew him across the glazed surface and off the side of the road.  Less than a mile into our planned gravel century and we'd already had our first crash.  This wasn't going to be our day.  After slipping and sliding over the next half mile, we decided it'd be wise to switch this over to the pavement.

So north we went, up Springville Road.  Plans were modified to head up to County Home Road where we would turn into the wind for the next 12 miles, then wind our way up to Quasqueton and back.  It may not have been the best route, but I don't ride pavement much and I ride that particular area even less so I wanted to stick with what I knew.  Once we turned into the wind, I tucked in behind Charles.  My legs were still shot from the nearly four hours of hills we attacked two nights before, so I was perfectly ok with sandbagging it.  I offered to pull exactly once.  It was more for posterity than anything.

Around an hour or so later, we decided to take a short food break as we came up to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  We took shelter from the wind in the viaduct, had a few bites, and changed our plans yet again.  Instead of heading north on Center Point Road, we'd take the trail south through town to escape the wind for a while.  Finally we were able to carry some decent speed.  We followed the trail another 20 miles to Ely, hitting the bike shop along the way, and stopped for an honest bar food lunch.

After lunch, it was back up the trail to retrace our route home.  Even though County Home was busier than we liked, it was also the best road for taking advantage of the wind and boy howdy, we'd earned that tailwind.  When we finally made the turn east on it, I settled into a nice rhythm and let the wind do the work for me.  Charles, needing to get it out of his system, shot off and took full advantage of it.  I caught up to him a few miles later as he was coming back towards me.  We hung together the rest of the way, turning south across the wind before we really wanted to.  I estimated we'd pull back into town at around 90 miles, but I didn't feel the need to round it out to a full century.  I made the comment that in terms of effort, we'd done 100.  Including stops and all the slow going in the wind on worn down legs, we'd been out for over 8 hours and it was starting to get dark.  That turned out to be good enough for us.

So...  No gravel hundy.  No hundy on the pavement either.  Oh well.  One of the Slender Fungus guys told once told me the body recognizes hours, not miles.  Good wisdom, that is.  Can't get too caught up in arbitrary numbers, after all.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


And right back up again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What This World Needs

Charles and I both ran with a set of Profile Aquarack seat post mount bottle racks last season, neither set lasted beyond a few months.  Yeah, I get it.  It's roadie gear.  Still, I need something that doesn't fall apart after a couple bumpy rides and I try to avoid Camelbacks when temps are above freezing.  So we have been talking and I'm thinking of designing my own rear mount bottle cage, something that's actually gravel worthy.  My question to you is do you think there'd be much interest in this?  Is there any other bike equipment or accessories you'd like to see ruggedized for gravel?  What else would you like to see in the gravel or snow world? 

Tools and knowledge at my disposal (some things are pending approval from my work):
  • 3D modelling software
  • Schematic design and capture tools, PCB layout tools
  • Machine shop
  • Mig Welder, oxy torch
  • Some basic metal fabrication experience
  • Basic PCB assembly and programming experience
  • Seven years mechanical design experience (mostly stainless steel and aluminum)
  • Seven years of PCB design and layout (high speed data, controls, power supplies and filtering)
  • The desire for a hobby I could make some beer money off of.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Arrowhead Photos

A smorgasbord of me, other crazy people and lots of scenery. Raw and unedited more out of laziness than general artistic intent.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Arrowhead

I was about a mile out from the third checkpoint when it finally hit me.  I found my self so tired, so frustrated, so mentally worn down that for a brief minute all I wanted to do was get off my bike, sit down in the snow and cry. 

That's about the best way I have to describe what Arrowhead was for me this year.  The temps were uncharacteristically mild and while this has been a bad year for snow, the trails were in decent shape.  Physically the effort was draining, but once I got to a base level of fatigue I found I was able to maintain my effort despite some mild knee pain.  The problem wasn't any of that.  I was just unprepared for how mentally difficult Arrowhead would prove to be for me.

I had just left the first checkpoint when I first hit my dark place.  Not a problem usually, I've done enough long rides and races that I've been there and come back a few times.  It's never taken more than an hour or so before.  This time it was three, and it was the first of many.  It was 10:30 when I rode into the second checkpoint with two others, and I was already shot.  I poured myself into a chair as Deb and the volunteers brought be food and drink.  Others in the cabin didn't look any better and some had already pulled out.  I don't usually hang around checkpoints all that long, but I realized I needed to try to get some sleep if I was going to make it through the race.  I eventually made my way upstairs and sprawled out in the only remaining bed for a few restless hours.

I woke up around 2am when the the first runner came through the cabin.  Already!?!  Equal parts of humiliation and stubbornness finally got me to roll out of bed and I mechanically prepared myself for the second half of my crucible.  I ate another grilled cheese sandwich and headed out the door to a snow covered bike.  I rolled back out on the trail, back out on the hills.  I plodded along passing the runner and another biker.  At 6am I came up to a shelter that had a couple other cyclist sleeping in it.  I was already tired again, and after reviewing my milage I decided to bivy for a couple more hours.  Two turned into two+ and at 8:30 I willed myself out of my bag and started packing up.  I made the grim realization before heading back off again that I had miscalculated my distance and was 10 miles farther back than I thought.  Such is a tired mind.

The next few hours were lost to the aether and I don't remember much about them, other than joining up with a couple other cyclists (Thom and Erv).  Together we rode, chatted, watched for landmarks that would give an indication of where we were and how far we had yet to go.  When we were getting close to the third checkpoint we started counting the remaining hills.  I estimated six, and we counted off each one as we crested it.  We came over the sixth hill, but instead of being greeted with the long decent into the third checkpoint that I thought we had, there was instead another hill.  I felt like I had been kicked.  When we came over the seventh, I was again in a bad place, but I held hope that we were just a decent away from the checkpoint.  We weren't.  The long decent as it looked on paper was instead a short descent followed by what felt like a forever slog through the swamp.  I was back in a bad place.

I remember reading a quote once, and I think of it often in these situations.   

No matter how good you feel or how bad you feel, it won't last.

This, along with encouragement from Thom kept me moving and eventually we hit that final checkpoint.  I was so happy to see it and was immediately in a better mood.  I had a cup of hot chocolate and enjoyed the laughs when I pulled a day old cheeseburger out of my bag and took a couple hearty bites.  After 10 minutes of rest and conversation with the volunteers, Thom and I were again on our way.  A short ride had us at the base of Wakemup Hill, the last and one of the steepest.  Up, over, on our way and I finally felt good.  We rolled another couple miles and made a detour at the Crescent Bar for some dinner.  It was just before dark.  The pasta was overpriced, but delicious all the same.

At a little after six, we were all on our way again.  Erv had decided to go off on his own and Thom and I rode out ahead of a fourth cyclist we ate with.  We were only 18 miles from the finish and yet despite the rest, the end of the hills and my full stomach, I found myself slipping back into my dark place.  The snow was better here and we were able to hold a faster pace, but every ten or fifteen minutes I would need to pull over and spend a couple minutes collecting myself.  Thom knew I was in a bad place and did his best to keep talking and keep my mind off of it, but the best I could muster up were monosyllabic grunts and the occasional whininess.  And so it went until we came up to the last road crossing before the finish.  I stopped to call Deb and let her know I was two miles from the finish and Thom opted to keep going.  This close to the end, I suddenly felt good again.  The last two miles were a blur and soon enough I was riding up the final little kick towards the finish line.  A little over 39 hours after starting, I was finished.

Deb has a tradition of telling me at the start of a race that this is the best I'll feel in days, but there's really not a lot that feels better than the relief of riding across the finish line of a grueling race.  Yeah, I took a long time and I got a little whiny but I'm still proud of the fact that I could go so deep into such a dark place and still keep going.  So many people have told me I'm crazy and don't understand why I do these things to myself, but when you can challenge yourself to such an extent and still come out of it...  Well, it just does a lot to show you what you're really capable of.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

That Arrowhead Thing

Finished in 39 hours and change.  That was hard.  
So. Friggin. Hard.

Race report to come, plus pics and video at some point. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arrowhead Updates

Whelp, it's about that time.  Heading up to International Falls for the big daddy...  Arrowhead.  I'll be posting plenty of pics and video when I get back, but until then you can keep track of my progress on the following sites.

Arrowhead Results page

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good News, Bad News

Good news:
Got in a 3 hour snow ride this weekend.

Bad News:
This happened.  Are derailleur hangers supposed to be banana shaped?

Good news:
I have a steel frame.  With a long enough lever and the proper amount of stank applied, it's good as new.

Bad news:
My derailleur...  Not so much.  SRAM X-0 -> To the junk bin.

Good news:
Worst case scenario, I've proven I can ride at least half an Arrowhead distance on a fixie.

Bad News:
That was minus 20 lbs of gear.

Good news:
No one is dumb enough to ride Arrowhead fixed.

Bad news:
Except me...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fatties Fix Fine

Well, I failed in my attempt to become the first person to ever finish Triple D on a fixie.  Instead, I had to settle for being the second.  Enjoy the photos, I'll have a more detailed post race write-up later on.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hey Winter, glad you could make it

Apparently Winter was just waiting for me to commit to a fixed gear Triple D before deciding it was going to show up.

Well, I did say I wanted more of a challenge...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Small Adventures

Hooked up with Charles for our weekly night ride. Left Atkins at 6pm and hit a long string of B roads that were in much better shape than we were expecting.  Two hours and 25 miles on the night.

Camping at MacBride with Lisa and Dennis.  Showed up well past gate closing time, so I parked down the road at the back entrance to Sugar Bottom and hiked four miles by moonlight.  Met with the others just before midnight and set up camp.  Low of 24 degrees that night wasn't anywhere near the single digit temps I was hoping for, but at least it was a chance to test my gear.  A beautiful night helped to make up for the lack of cold and snow.

Got up at 7:30 and started packing my gear.  Met Dennis and Lisa at the parking lot where we dropped off our stuff and headed out for a four and a half mile hike along the reservoir.  There was fossil hunting, a trip through the raptor center, a herd of wild-yet-tame deer and plenty of conversation.  I was happy to hear that I had passed the snore test the night before and was invited back for more camping down the road.

Headed up to Dubuque with Charles and met up with Mr. Davey Gie for a pre-ride of the Triple D course.  Had a great time and was glad to finally get a ride in with Dave.  We've been chatting back and forth on the interwebbings for the last year, but I'd only briefly met him in person once.  I was happy to find that he's every bit the goofball in the meatspace that he is online.  Ended the day with 64 miles over six hours.  Along the way it was decided that I need more of a challenge than a snow-free Triple D course can provide, so I've got something big planned.  Something never attempted in the history of the race.  Seriously...  I checked. :-)   Shhh...  It's a secret.

Days, weeks, months to come:
Things planned, things still swirling in the aether.  I've got a whole new year ahead of me, with plenty of opportunities for adventures big and small.  Thanks for reading.  I enjoy sharing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Build a new snow bike, get record winter highs.

I should have evened the jinx with a crate of mankinis...

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Day Hangover Metric

Yesterday five of us headed out of West Des Moines for a 70 mile gravel ride.  In attendance were Charles, Courtney, Rob, Scott and myself.  30MPH sustained winds along with 50-60MPH gusts made for an interesting day, especially when combined with the steep, punchy hills.  It was a long one with frequent stops, and we rolled back into town 8 hours later under cover of darkness.  Thanks to Courtney and his wife for hosting and feeding us, dinner was delicious.  Thanks to Charles for coming up with this crazy idea.  Thanks to all for showing up and making for a great start to the new year.

When Charles gets his pics uploaded I'll link to those as well.