me and the bike. was planning on a longish trail ride with flip and novian today but the weather didn't cooperate. so, i decided on a long gravel ride. took off and it was about 50 degrees and raining. rain stopped pretty early on but the gravels stayed wet in spots. trashed the bike and had to work harder than normal. rode to dorchester and back, got in around 55 miles and 4-5 serious climbs. balsam road...wow. hardest hill i can find. long and steep beyond anything else around here, at least that i've ever seen. quads pretty fried and need to get some food. speaking of...check out the pre-ride meal :) got a text from scotty coincidentally while i was climbing balsam. last time i did this ride he was with me. he would have been down for this ride no questions asked. wish you'd been here...we would've had a good laugh about the conditions we were in vs. the people sitting around on their couches watching t.v. glad we're not them.
full pound of stew beef (complimented with half a block of cojack)
the racing ralph burped for the third straight ride.
which led to this...
ogara and the black sheep, fuhrman's wily were both out. spinner's mariachi too but no pics.
i barely lasted 20 minutes into the ride before ralph burped AGAIN...and this was after riding like an idiot. dinged the rim a bit as well and i'm planning on selling this wheelset in a couple weeks when the I9's come in. so i ducked out early, grabbed some beers and headed to the shop. f-ing racing ralph has come off in place of the crossmark i used to run. now running crossmarks front and back and i guess the ralph will make a reappearance on the navigator which is coming around awesome. need to get a wheelset built but definitely making progress and laughing along the way. anyway...shitty night. gonna watch some tivo'd ufc and crash.
and it goes something like this: older trek navigator 400 frame internally geared 3 speed coaster brake susp. corrected 26" surly instigator fork w/29" front wheel semi-slicks burley hitch fenders? rack? good candidate for a future xtracycle?
so...grocery getter, kid hauler, townie commuter, bar bike, super sweet 69'er trail bike...not sure what its for exactly but its probably gonna create a few less reasons to drive a car and give me a few more reasons to smile.
friday night having beers with bill around the fire larsson chillin by the fire friday night larsson and his best friend lucas watering the flowers saturday night sunday afternoon, a few beers and a santa cruz chameleon lead to bad ideas...(spinner) sunday night and a long game of quarters led to this...the hole in the wall is rougly 12"X12" and ties is roughly 6'0" and 230 lbs
spent the weekend at the campground in town here and the weather was near perfect but i actually didn't get out and ride much...surprisingly i'm okay with that. quality time with larsson, spent quite a bit of time with friends, got one good ride in with bill on saturday, installed new brake pads on the jabber (its quiet again!!!), and got a little out of control with spinner(although i was gone before the real excitement happened). with the exception of work i was inside for as little time as possible...not a bad weekend.
yeah, that's me having fun at work. larsson was there and gets a kick out of watching me hop on my back wheel so i stole zack's bike and started screwing around. but, here's the deal...i was reading guitar ted's blog about gas prices and how he was coping with it and wanted to share this. brad, who works at the shop, recently dropped the cash on an xtracycle for his 8500 complete with a powered rear hub from crystalite (sp?). it has a grip-shift looking throttle on the right, rigged up as a single speed and can get something like 60 miles on one battery charge. he's also built a wooden frame around the back end to be able to carry more. we can now take two full size bike boxes and a bunch of other stuff to ups without using the shop truck. point being, if you look close enough, you can see it in the background. brad, and everyone else going by bike...thank you.
gorgeous day for a ride. ogara, novian (full-on roadie) and i went out on the trails. novian punishes me on gravels/roads so it was fun to flip roles a bit. having said that, this was his first trail ride of the year and my first time riding with him and he surprised me by having some decent technical ability. early in the ride i started having knee problems, then proceeded to crash coming off the log ride in north 40. good news is i broke the fall with my face. damn i hate crashing. this means the next ride must include that log ride simply to "get back on the horse" and not let the demons mess with me every time i see it. tweaked my front wheel and burped all but about 10psi out of my tire. novian had co2 but no pump, ogara had a pump but no co2. the pump and the co2 weren't compatible. i was too lazy to grab my stuff on the way out the door. so, riding easy (10 psi in a racing ralph feels really squirrely) the rest of the way but finished the ride. travis got the rim taken care of. all in all, another day in paradise.
folky, friedhof, and the unicorn wondering who stole his horn spinner (trying to avoid any jokes regarding wood) drank the cooler out of heavy, had to move to the champagne light
necessary info from last night: riders: pete the dentist, john the new dentist, benji from inspired magazine, moffit/chewey, the unicorn, fuhrmanchu, deke from down the street, myself. spinner was learning to fight fires but showed up later with the other jeff. folky also made a guest appearance. miles: ? speed: ? log rides: 2 each by 3 riders entertaining crashes: disappointingly none postride: bonfire and grilling out back of my place beer purchased/brought: 30 pack high life, 30 pack high life light, 18 pack coors lt, 12 pack coors lt, a few random cans of busch lt and bottles of fat tire beers consumed: too many food: ogara's famous grilled morels (don't want to know the value of what we consumed in mere minutes), brats funded by pete (thanks) number of people overserved: at least two perfect weather, fun ride, fun night.
got out on the fixticuff for close to 85 miles last night. first half all pavement straight into a surprisingly harsh wind. got to preston, took a nice break, then rode most of the way back on gravel with a fading tailwind. made me think about how easy it is to take good conditions for granted...calm winds, dry singletrack, no snow, etc. very rarely do i force myself to go out and intentionally work my arss off in these conditions specifically so that i can truly appreciate the good days. i don't shy away from them, i don't refuse to ride in them, i simply deal with poor conditions because i'm forced to, because i head out for a ride and suddenly i'm kicked in the teeth with huge headwinds. 5-6 hours on the bike gives you a lot of time to draw parallels between riding and life...
got to watch the sunset beside me part of the way back, then it got real dark and the nighttime gravel demons started playing, then for the final 45 minutes i rode straight toward an incredible (full?) moon. there's plenty of beauty in the world, some nights i'm lucky enough to notice.
cousin greg was in town to buy a new bike...his first bike in years. while he was in town we decided he should try riding trails. we got him one of our rental bikes and we headed out just before noon today. somedays i'm smacked in the face with why i started riding in the first place. we didn't ride fast but he was more than willing to try things way outside his comfort zone. shortly into the ride i asked if he wanted to try my jabber. this put me on a full suspension, geared 26" bike...weird. don't know how else to say it...weird. whatever. after his second crash he came up bloody and dirty, looked at me and said "yep, if i lived in decorah i'd buy a mountain bike". that made my day. to see someone smile and say the same things i did 6 years ago after my first ride...it reminded me why i ride. it was nice to get out of race/training mode and just enjoy the ride. oh, and letting him try my bike was a mistake because he loved it and i was stuck on the squishy shifty thing all day :)
on a side note, finally got the white ind. cranks and phil wood ti bb installed. still need to get chainline dialed and finally got the boone cog back on. can't really say much about 'em since greg spent most of the time on it instead of me. but they look nice and the bearings are definitely smooooth.
not much to say about this one. finally did my first expert race. 5 laps and by halfway through my position was pretty well set barring a mechanical. raced well, felt good, expert distance races are a different animal. took 3rd behind two guys that have been at the top of the race fields around here for a while. i'm certainly okay with that. the bike performed great. good to see some people i don't get to see much. marty was there from prairie with ryan. kyle, bruce, taylor from des moines. kent held down the sport class winning it overall on his jabber. first place sport, 3rd place expert...not a bad day in iowa for vassago. always a fun race and only an hour or so drive. good weather, entertaining trails, good result. no complaints on this one.
so, transiowa didn't go so great but i did a fairly good job of rehydrating. or self-medicating. one of the two. either way, waking up sunday morning after the failed attempt at transiowa and getting over served somewhere along the way isn't exactly typical pre-race routine but i had certainly been planning on still being out on the transiowa course with no thought of racing the trials. but, i haven't missed a year since i started racing so i dropped all my expectations and wandered down to the registration and threw my name in the hat. didn't leave much time to get my stuff ready and i decided to do some quick adjustments on the jabber that had been virtually ignored for the last couple months getting ready for trans. not a lot of time to do much, but the chain definitely needed to be tensioned. damn. lesson learned (relearned?). don't mess with the bike the day of a race. i took off at my scheduled time and blew up immediately. the race started in the new section of dead pet that had just been cut in that week. it was a swamp. i ran most of it through flowing water and mudholes. after dead pet the rest of palisades was in pretty good shape but my 130 mile warm up ride the day before was killing my climbing. as i come flying out of smeby's i hit the brakes to make one last corner before hitting the road and heading over to van peenen. as soon as i heard it i knew what it was...f-me. tire rubbing chainstay at high speed. i jumped off as i hit the road, looked at my wheel, kicked it, watched it go straight, hopped back on and took off. after carrying so much weight during transiowa i had taken nothing but a water bottle and a gu for the trials...not even a wrench. come to find out i hadn't gotten the bolts on the rear hope tight enough and they were backing out and allowing the wheel to twist into the chainstay. i was stopping every 5 minutes to tighten them by hand as best i could but it wasn't working great. i had no rear brake because everytime i even feathered the rear brake it would pull my wheel into the stay. okay, van peenen (including the hairpin on fred's) with only a front brake sucks. going up backside into the ice cave/dunning's stuff i passed a guy who gave me his tool. i was able to tighten the bolts and ride the last few miles without a problem. apparently all the transiowa training is paying off. i rode 130 miles on saturday, rode 1/3 of the trials with only a front brake, stopped probably 10 times to tighten my rear wheel, and ended up 8th, my best finish ever. going into the race with no expectations...i'll take it. plenty of "what if's?" but i'm really not too hung up on it. congrats to the unicorn for completely destroying the field. jeff doesn't race, but wanted to do this one time just to see. he won by 11 minutes on a 12 mile course. wow.
transiowa. dnf. dnff. maybe i put too much into this, maybe i let it mean too much, but this is all i've worked toward since last fall. this was the one race that mattered this year. i've never worked this hard for anything. and i didn't finish. not only did i fail to finish, but i didn't even get a chance to prove to myself that i could ride until i was a broken down pile of what i once was...and it was my fault. a mental mistake. was i strong enough? don't know, i felt like i was, but i didn't get to find out. damn...how do i cope with that? here's the rundown. pre-race was fine. met some people, everybody was in a good mood in the basement of t-bock's. met jordan earlier in the day. he's 22 and finishing college in colorado. couldn't have hoped for a cooler, more normal guy to randomly offer a place to crash to on the internet. we hung out all night friday, got our bikes ready and what not. i fell asleep about 8:30 on the couch and slept poorly off and on til 3. got up, made breakfast and made sure i had everything ready to go, left about 3:45. got to the 4-way stop by palisades at the end of ice cave and seeing 60 people with headlights and flashing taillights was a really cool sight. but...it was cold, damn cold. we took off up a steep hill on a route that is basically my favorite ride around here. we headed up toward bluffton and i was in a great mood and feeling good. after the first big hill, a group of about 15 of us had separated off the front. about a half hour in we rode up wagon hill road and by then we had pretty well dropped the field. i rode with the front group (now about 12 of us) for almost 2 hours but my fixed gear was making it tough so i backed off a bit to where i could still see them so i didn't have to navigate on my own. got to cresco (38.5 miles) just in time to see them leaving. my back was destroyed already so i stopped to apply generous amounts of icy hot. left kwik trip and within a mile took a wrong turn. got turned back around in time to see jordan. the pace of the lead group was starting to concern him in terms of the big picture so he had stopped at the gas station and gone inside and i never saw him. so he and i paired up and got back on track. minutes later we see the lead group of about ten riding straight at us...wtf?!?!?!?!? EVERYONE including us had missed the reroute around a a low water crossing. so they saved us a couple extra miles, and we hooked back on with them and enjoyed the benefits of riding in a group and trying to fight that monstrous wind together. imagine 2 or 3 perfect diagonal lines drawn across a gravel road and that was us when there was cross wind. into the wind we were a perfect straight line, wheels 6 inches apart trying to conserve as much energy as possible. seriously, the wind was unlike anything i'd ever ridden in. i was pushing way too hard to stay in the lead group, but the benefits of not having to fight that wind alone forced me to keep going. when there was a crosswind you could seriously see the side of your front wheel because we had to lean the bikes so far into the wind. anyway, i dropped off the lead group again and decided to stop for a meal...AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! totally forgot all of my premade pb&j sandwiches. so, snickers for now, i'll stock up on jerky at the next gas station. i'm about 50 miles in. i fought this terrible mind destroying cross wind for a couple more hours. i was supposed to be entering waucoma around mile 69...would have been low 70's due to the reroute. i was on 306th and i thought my next turn was on 3rd st. i had read right over the direction that said turn on w ave. i must have gone about 2 miles past w by the time i realized this...and i was doing about 23 mph with the wind. i stopped and considered my options. i turned back into the wind, riding less than 10 mph and fighting the wind with everything i had. i figure i went back about a mile and a half, thought i saw the water tower, almost made my own way back to waucoma thinking i'd get back on track there. nope, maybe the directions were off a bit...so i turned BACK around and rode with the wind like 5 miles, hit a black top and saw a big church so i knew there had to be a town...waucoma??? nope, st. lucas. fought the wind into st. lucas and saw a sign that said waucoma 5 miles. it was 10:30. if i could do 10 mph straight into the wind i could be in waucoma by 11 with three hours to go and 40-50 miles to the checkpoint. i knew my race was over with the effort it was going to take. i almost called for a ride from st. lucas. after some soul searching i chose to make the effort to get to st lucas and then make a decision. i was literally riding at 5-6 mph into 40 mph headwinds into waucoma. i got there just before 11. hopped into the gas station and pulled out all the stops and everything i thought would help. 1. cheeseburger (empty calories, full stomach, big smile) 2. gu (big upside, big downside...lots of caffeine but i knew i would crash when it wore off) 3. ipod (had been saving this for the night because of battery life but it seemed necessary...volume so loud i couldn't hear ANYTHING including cars or the wind). at that point i put my head down and i rode as hard as i have ever ridden in my life. for three solid hours i hammered on that bike...i caught a tail wind and was averaging somewhere around 23 or 24 mph slowly realizing how far off i was on mileage and knowing for those three hours that it was going to come down to minutes in terms of reaching the checkpoint. just outside of west union i came across dan...i asked him if we were going to make it and he was skeptical but bonking so i didn't stick around. he offered me some apples he was munching on, i declined and took off...as i sprinted away from him i heard him yell to me to be careful...apparently he was concerned that i was pushing way too hard. i spoke with him after and he said he'd never seen anyone ride t.i. so angry :) he told me the lead "group" of single speeds was up ahead. i caught up with them leaving west union. 6 guys...dan's buddy from tennessee, cale from milwaukee, 2 brothers from madison, another guy who's name i didn't catch and who dropped off. anyway...those guys took me in like family...and we continued to RIP!! we hit hills between west union and wadena (checkpoint) that blew me away. massive, massive downhills that were killing me on my fixie, but they would wait for me at the bottom. climbs that i could get halfway up before tennis ball size cramps threatened to ruin me. i walked many hills over the next 15 miles. we kept looking at the miles and our clocks, constantly saying "maybe, MAYBE". these guys were helping me get food out of my pack, waiting for me to beat the cramps out of my hamstrings. cale got blown into the tennessee guy and crashed in the gravel. our route took us out of our tailwind and back into a crosswind and occasionally a head wind. then...FINALLY we turned back with the wind. something like 4 or 5 miles to the checkpoint (guessing cause my mileage was so screwed up) with 15-20 minutes. we had to average 15 mph with some nasty climbs left. i was WALKING up a hill with 5 minutes left...i wanted so badly to puke beside myself while hiking that hill. at 2 p.m. one guy had dropped us. we had dropped one guy. cale, the tennessee guy and i made on last turn, we could see wadena, and we were too late. we rolled up to the checkpoint at 2:02 p.m. the checkpoint was scheduled to be 109 miles in...i was at 130. and i was wasted. i don't know how far i could have gone. i don't know if i would have left wadena. most people that made it there quit there. i wanted to ride until my legs no longer functioned...i did not want to have my ride ended by a mental lapse and a time cutoff. BUT...it is what it is. i proved a lot to myself in the last three hours...i proved a lot to myself simply making the decision to ride from st. lucas back to waucoma (by far the worst 5 miles of the ride). my new found friends and i headed to the bar, got some grease and some coors lt, laughed at our misery and shared stories of mechanicals and who looked strong and who got blown off their bikes and who got lost...it was awesome...truly amazing. it was without a doubt the most addictive thing i've ever done in my life and i will do it next year and probably every year after until i finish. thank you to everyone (you know who you are) for all of the support. there are many people that have helped me prepare for this and a few that i owe more than i can ever repay. vassago...thank you. the fisticuff fared far better than i. this bike will appear at transiowa again next year, and will be thoroughly flogged until then.
i grew up in the quad cities long before i started riding so i never realized there was even much to ride there. kent carlson (a customer we were building a jabber for) mentioned this race to me and the fact that the lalonde brothers were going to be there. what the hell, might as well... it required a license which i'd never bothered to get because most of the races around here don't require them. my plan was to go race expert just so i could see first hand how fast these guys were and how bad they could beat people (myself included). well, apparently starting with a sport license doesn't allow you into the expert race...damn. the course was cool, an island that used to be a concrete foundry or something so occasionally you're riding along and you realize you're on part of an exposed brick floor/road/something. there are what seems like canals, culverts, chunks of brick everywhere...it really seems like a bomb site. anyway, i raced the ss race which was a totally separate race, longer than the sport and shorter than the expert. some guy from chicago and i literally rubbed tires for 20 miles. halfway through i thought he had me but i got a second wind. just before the final lap i was going to make my move but hit something, spun my bars, launched and landed on a patch of concrete with both knees. stem slightly askew i jumped back on and burned a lot just getting back on his wheel. about a third of the way through the final lap i passed him, pedaled like mad in the double track, took my time through the single track and held him off til the final 40 yards opened up to a sprint finish. my 34x17 was faster than his 32x18 and i won probably the closest battle i've ever had in a race. it was a riot. congrats to kent for taking third...a prelude of what is to come for him. jabbers first and third in the first iowa ss race of the year...nice. oh, based on lap times the lalondes would have beaten me by about 10 minutes, but i would have probably been top 5 in that expert race they wouldn't let me in.
thought i'd throw out a few, short race recaps from the year so far.
triple d...wow. scotty and i had signed up for this as sort of a guage to see where i was at getting ready for transiowa. mind you, before i started training for trans i had never ridden more than 25 miles in my life. this was to be a 60 mile race on snowmobile trails. scotty was down cause he's always the first one to say yes to "hey, do you want to ride to...". he and i have ridden in some crazy conditions including a blizzard that was piling light snow so high on the gravels we were dragging our feet through it at the bottom of every pedal stroke. i digress. triple d...one thing sums it all up...-30 f. it sucked. it was the most miserable conditions i've ever ridden in. 34 started, 6 made it halfway, 4 finished. in the end i won by almost an hour, which put me in 30 below temps for over 8 hours. i had less than a 5 minute lead going into the gas station in dyersville (halfway), stayed for 14 minutes then headed back in. truly feared for frostbite a few times on the way in, almost threw in the towel once when i took my gloves off for 3 minutes to find food in my pack and almost couldn't stand the insanely excruciating pain that followed for the next half hour til some handwarmers BARELY started to help. one support lady kept showing up every few miles and really was my last touch with reality. when i got back into downtown dubuque i was so disoriented i had to call lance andre (race director) for directions to the hotel/finish line. he told me later that i sounded so delirious they were truly concerned about hypothermia. i found my way back, didn't lose much skin except a small patch on the side of my foot, and 4 months later the race still blows my mind. 30 minutes in no water was drinkable unless i stopped and drank straight from my camelbak bladder. i was eating sandwiches out of my pack that had formed ice crusts all around them. my balaclava was freezing and almost choking me as it scrunched around my neck from my breath. my goggles froze over and if i took them off for 5 minutes my eyelashes/eyelids began to freeze together so i couldn't open my eyes. it was insanity. yes, i'd do it again. what are the odds it'll end up on the coldest weekend of the year two years in a row??? thanks to lance for putting it on and congrats on finishing the arrowhead. congrats to scotty for making it as far as you did...most people wouldn't walk to their cars let alone ride their bikes for hours on end in that wind and cold. next year i plan to make sure i remember where the handlebar lounge is and warm up with some doctor on my way to the finish.
just a quick rundown of how i ended up where i am today with my riding...i've been riding bike since fall 2002. i was on vacation in colorado and rented a tassajara, rode down the mountain twice and was hooked. within a week of returning i bought my first mountain bike, a specialized hardrock comp for a little over $300. three months later i had outgrown my first "real" bike and bought a giant nrs...cause you HAVE to have full suspension, right??? that bike lasted maybe a year until surly came out with their limited run of pink 1x1's. since that day i haven't owned a derailleur (okay, i have one somewhere in a box in my garage) or a suspension fork (okay, except on my steelhead cause 6 foot drops to flat rigid just isn't for me). i've been riding and racing cross country stuff around the upper midwest ever since. last fall a good friend/co-worker/#1 training partner (scotty) inquired about a company we'd heard a little about and wanted to sell off his karate monkey to get a vassago jabberwocky. i made a call to vassago and hit it off with them right away. every issue we had with 29er single speeds on the market seemed to be answered satisfactorily by these guys. after almost a half hour on the phone we became a dealer and i had convinced myself i knew what i was getting for my first 29er. going with vassago has turned out to be a great decision both for me personally and from a business aspect for the shop as well. around the same time i ordered my jabber i had started hitting the depths of a pre-mid-life crisis. yes, i have gotten plenty of crap for this because i'm so young. i was turning 30 in february and everyone told me i was too young to be struggling with my age. whatever. it was what it was and i wasn't doing well. i realized i needed to do something proactive to handle the situation. so...i bought my first cross bike, a specialized singlecross, flipped the rear wheel and started riding fixed on gravel roads. within weeks i had fallen in love with riding gravels, riding fixed, riding far, and i had developed a plan...i was going to turn 30 in february and take on transiowa at the end of april. with this as a plan i would effectively guarantee myself of being in the best shape of my life by the time i hit my birthday. things leading up to transiowa went very well, as well as i could have hoped, and somewhere along the line i caught a break i couldn't have imagined. late last fall i was talking with kris from vassago about some different things and he started talking with me about a cross bike. we discussed what was on the market, what was missing in the market, what they were kind of thinking...it was cool to have him actually asking questions and obviously listening to the answers. not that i or the shop told him what to do, but we're the ones riding and selling this stuff and he seemed genuinely interested in our thoughts. after talking with him for a while about this i began to think about my transiowa machine...aluminum frame/carbon fork. hmmmm...compare that to full steel. hmmm...follow up phone call to kris. basically i just called to ask what were the odds it would be ready for transiowa because i would be the first in line to buy one. after some discussion he offered to consider me a supported rider and hook me up with a near-final prototype frame and i got to pick the paint job. are you f-ing kidding me?!?!?! me?!?!?! ummmm...play it cool...yeah, sure, i guess that'd be okay. so...here we are...3000+ miles of fixed gravel riding since i built my first cross bike, currently considered a supported rider by an awesome company and a few races into a fairly successful season so far. i'm in the best shape of my life and looking toward a mix of cross country and endurance racing this season with an eye toward mostly endurance events in the coming years.
bike 2- "prototype" vassago fisticuff frame/fork (steel monstercross, custom metallic candy green paint) sometimes left-side drive
fixed via 16t tomicog
bont mustang rims (i think)
hope front skewer
raceface evolve cranks
42t tangent chainrings
custom ano'd outboard bb bearing cups
tires depend on the day
shimano m424 pedals (functional/commuting)
blue bottle cages
on one midge bars
reynolds ouzo carbon seatpost
stock saddle from spec. singlecross (custom ano'd guts)
thomson stem (custom ano'd face plate/compression wedge)
cane creek drop-v levers (blades custom ano'd)
kcnc headset spacers and chainring bolts
custom ano'd blue spacer kit to entirely cover freehub
specialized super phat bar tape
topeak bar extender (transiowa setup)
princeton tec corona extreme light
this bike gets the shit kicked out of it on a regular basis and comes back begging for more. i truly cannot say enough about this bike. rumor is it should hit production sooner than later, probably with disc tabs (mine doesn't) and plenty of vassago love.