Saturday, May 30, 2009


got some friends rockin gravel in kansas this weekend...good luck to everyone out there. got to ride with one of the organizers during transiowa. awesome guy. i'll be hitting the trails today to shake down the jabber now that travis has it up and running again then i'll be heading up to afton tomorrow. something about this course does it to me everytime. i'm not sure i've ever finished a race at afton without puking during the race. and now i get to ride an extra lap. awesome. i actually really enjoy this course, its just a mean course.

Friday, May 29, 2009

coal stacked

thursday night group ride turned into 4 guys on 3 bikes headed to bluffton. actually made it to an amazing lookout just past bluffton for some beers, then the bluffton store for a lot more beer and some to go. the ride home got pretty interesting as o'gara and fuhrmann don't have much choice but to push the pace on the single speed tandem of death. friedhof and i did our best to hang on. bad decisions were made, such as trying to race the charcoal black two-seater up wagon hill...that's when i got coal stacked. a stop at the top of the hill to assess the damage and work on the to-go beers then into town a couple of stops at some local establishments. gorgeous night, fun ride, i still blame brian for unnecessarily cutting me off while passing me on a 40 foot wide gravel road :)

l to r: friedhof and travis getting friedhof's bike rideable, the ss tandem of death (coal stack), o'gara and brian

most amazing view in winneshiek county, just look for the string and avoid the poison ivy

headed back

pretty sure what brian is saying is "i'm about to ruin your night"

coal stacked

first time i've ever laid it down on gravel not because of snow and ice. we were moving pretty good (racing) but at least it wasn't on one of the 35+mph descents

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

summer plans

the lack of recent posts is proof of the mental and physical break i've been on since transiowa. that and some extra time put in at work has left me without a whole lot i felt like talking about. but now its time to get my shit back together. the problem with focusing so much of my training on transiowa is that i end up peaking very early in the year. so...i've come up with a plan and i'll be spending my june as a sort of second run at spring training and try to get my body to peak again by late summer. following my race at afton alps this weekend i won't race for four weeks. those four weeks will have me riding a very heavy training schedule as well as getting back to strength work. a couple cross country races in july with some tapering should help me get dialed in with the hopes of being at the high end of my fitness for my trips to pennsylvania and south dakota in august and september. that's the plan at least.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

race pics







chatting with zach after an unfortunate blowout ended his race

putting a little fear into cam :)
congrats on the 3rd place finish

back to xc racing...these guys in the pro/expert field are FAST!

Monday, May 18, 2009

erik's spring cup

headed up to minnesota for the first race in the mnscs points series this weekend. erik's spring cup used to be held at buck hill, a ski area that was a pretty fun course. it has since moved to inver grove heights and is now made up of a 5 mile loop that has virtually no climbing, is super dry and sketchy and crazy fast. this was my first ever try at riding with the pro/expert class in minnesota. i finished around mid-pack and i'm fairly content with that. a couple of years ago the experts were the people racing sometime after i had my medal (hopefully) and was already headed home. i never thought i'd be in the same league with these guys so just racing in this class feels pretty good. i learned a lot at this race, made some mistakes, lost a couple minutes trying to get help for a rider than tried to chop down a tree with his neck at 20 mph right in front of me, and had a pretty good time. ran into zach and steve who also ride for vassago. both have jumped up a class this year after dominating their class last year. switched out to a flat bar/ergon setup and i'm really liking it. more on that when i've got more time on them. rode most of the race without a front brake after puking all the hydraulic fluid out at the caliper. seriously considering bb7 mechanicals. 2 highlights of the trip...getting to hang out with colin and larsson's first race. colin lives up in the cities and made his way over for the race. got to hang out a bit before and after the race and grab some mexican food and a beer after. it was awesome to hang out and discuss the possibility of some really stupid future plans. we brought larsson's bike with just in case he decided he wanted to do the kids race. as soon as we got there he knew for sure he did. so he got a number plate and lined up at the start...and his face was all business. it was about a quarter mile loop in the grass around a baseball field and he had a blast. he wanted no help from julie or i and he was determined to do it alone. dude rocked it. that was worth the price of my entry fee. i could have packed up and left without doing my race and been completely thrilled that we made the trip. some pics below from one camera, more later when i get some off the other one.
getting ready

race face

not sure who's more proud...racer or mom

hanging out with colin post race

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

new training partner

mid 60's and sunny...perfect day for a ride and a picnic
diggin' the new bike trail

i'm sure it won't be long til i'm chasing him

feeding the broods at the trout hatchery...these things were huge.

lunch by the trout stream...absolutely amazing day

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

transiowa v.5 (epilogue)

this will be a very random collection of thoughts and thank yous in no particular order...
-huge thanks to kris and misty from vassago. you guys believed in me and my chances of pulling this off long before most. your support and encouragement from day one has been as amazing as it was unexpected. the fisticuff has been the perfect bike for transiowa. were there training with me from day one. you missed your chance to get in this year but the hours spent in the worst possible conditions will never be forgotten. i hope you seriously consider lining up next year.
-thanks to travis at decorah bicycles for keeping my bikes running no matter how bad i trash them.
-all my family that has not only put up with my obsession but accepted and encouraged it and have dealt with the sacrifices made so that i could fight my battle. i love you all.
-thanks to novian for teaching me the value of suffering. and for being willing to help me experience what its like to truly suffer on a bike.
-to the entire riding community in decorah. there's always someone willing to ride something somewhere. granted it usually involves ending up at a bar or getting to a bar halfway through the ride or simply drinking on the trails. there are some amazing riders in this town and some people that are perfect for keeping riding what its supposed to occasionally i need a good kick in the ass not to take this stuff too serious and you guys are always there to provide that (spinner i'm kinda looking in your direction-mostly because you actually do kick me...a lot).
-matt, matt and guys made this adventure. i never imagined i could have so much fun tearing myself apart physically the way i did. you are all phenomenal riders and i'm thrilled i got the chance to know you. i really hope we can ride together again sometime...maybe even find some trails somewhere. saved my ride and kept my hopes alive. thank you doesn't quite seem enough.
-joe, dave and guys killed it.
-brothers kings.
-charlie...your ability to suffer is legendary.
-paul...i couldn't be happier for you.
-guitar ted and dave pals...THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! i lived a dream because you guys let me.
-to everyone whose bikes or bodies failed you...i wish you the best in the years to come. much respect for being there at 4 a.m. and lasting as long as you did.
-i am glad i failed last year. i think it has given me the ability to appreciate this year so much more.
-i was mostly serious about never riding a fixed gear bike again. mostly.
-the sun holds magical powers.
-when the devil gets bored he kills time by spreading fresh gravel whimsically across the back roads of iowa.
-CARBOROCKET!!! i swear i will do a proper review of this stuff sometime. for now just know that i've never ridden close to a century without cramps. 31.5 hours without the hint of a cramp. thank you brad keyes, this stuff is awesome.
-ergons. following the hand injury 2 weeks prior to transiowa i was pretty nervous. these grips were a no brainer for the final set up.
-rough idea of what i ate and drank...400 oz of clean water from the camelbak. 200 oz. of carborocket before running out, then 200 oz. clean water from bottles. 4 packets of gu. 5 snickers marathon bars. 3 clif bar mojo trail mix bars. 6 pieces/personal sized pizzas. 1 double cheeseburger. 2 cans pepsi. 1 piece breakfast pizza. lots of beef sticks and a bag of jerky. 1/3 bag of trail mix. 6 packets powerbar gel blasts. 3 packets jelly belly sport beans. 1 oats/honey granola bar (thanks wills). tums. 3 large chocolate chip cookies.
-mg has said on his blog that what we did won't change the balance of the world and he is absolutely right. many people i'm sure will feel that i/we make too big of a deal out of this. those people weren't out there with us. we know what we did and we know what it means to us. the world may not be different because of transiowa, but i am.
-guitar ted and dave pals have announced plans for transiowa v.6 in 2010. cresting the final rise on the b road finish i knew...i'll be back. and you're goddamn right i'll have a freewheel.

transiowa v.5 pt.4

if you don't know this yet about endurance racing, here's your heads up. demons. they exist. they hide, laying in wait and when they attack it is ferocious. i don't know anyone who's ever ridden through the night and not had to face them. it is at that moment that all of your hours and months and years of suffering hopefully pay you back. my demons came out at 3 a.m. due to my less than stellar diet over the previous 24 hours i had been battling raging heart burn for the past 10 hours. we had now been riding about an hour since we left cp3 and i had absolutely stuffed my face with pizza, trail mix and oatmeal cream pies. the dry socks and jacket had taken the sting out of the cold but i was miserable. i had overeaten and was choking back vomit with almost every breath. i was falling asleep on the bike, having conversations with myself that it was okay to close my eyes for just two seconds and that i'd feel better if i did. i couldn't propel my bike up any sort of incline. all i wanted to do was sleep. it was cold, dark and i was sick and tired and delirious. i was getting dizzy and was unable to communicate. this was the critical moment of my ride...the moment i knew was coming. i knew it at the time as well. but i was broken. the four of us stopped for necessities which was a welcome change of pace for me, but still i knew i was in trouble. i did what i needed to quickly then without a word i left the group and started walking my bike. it was a gentle incline and certainly rideable but i just couldn't do it anymore. i walked to be moving. i walked to make progress. i walked to stay warm. i walked because i didn't know what else to do. suddenly, i looked next to me and there was andy. without a word he had joined me. i'm sure he was strong enough at the time to ride but i think he sensed what was happening. at first he just walked there without saying anything. then finally he looked at me and simply asked "trying to walk some sense into yourself?" i cracked a smile. he nailed it. i wasn't out of the weeds yet but with that smile came a slight shift in attitude. i don't know if it was his understanding or the fact that i was carrying on a conversation or what, but something was changing. i used a gu in hopes the caffeine would wake me up a bit and we continued to walk. as we crested the hill and got back on our bikes things seemed to be getting better. within about 15 minutes i was back at "full strength", back into robot mode of simply continuing to turn the pedals over. in those few minutes andy saved my race and i was beyond thankful that we had picked him up back at cp2.
back on the bikes and back at it but i still wasn't moving very one was really. except gersib. he seemed to feel good and rode off the front a bit. no one even questioned it. he looked strong and we were riding slow and it made sense. so wills, andy and i continued on until we hit the 295th, h, i, 300th, 63 debacle. i absolutely will not complain about the cue sheets. we were in rough shape and i'm sure they made sense, just not to us at that moment. it was around 4 a.m. and we were just outside toledo and we were lost. after some searching we kind of figured out where we were, maybe missed a turn or two but somehow ended up in the right place and found our way to highway 63 in toledo. we chose to ride a half mile out of our way to get to an all night gas station. another great decision. i finally bought some tums and gained minor relief for a while. we rode out of toledo having picked up 2 more lost souls with the promise of sunshine not far off. the two we picked up preferred a faster pace and left us quickly as we left town. and then it happened. first the sky changed colors. from black and purple to dark blue. then i noticed i could see my computer for the first time since about 9p.m. by 5:45 it was light out. i don't remember the first time we saw the sun but it held all the magically restorative powers i had promised myself it would. after a brief sun appreciation ceremony we continued to roll on. somewhere along the line here my memory gets a little rough because i'm not exactly sure how or when we came back into contact with gersib. i know we rejoined him at the last gas station but i feel like he was around for some of the daytime prior to that as well. so it is.
so we continued on having been refueled by the sun not knowing we were about to come across the most amazing story of the race. as we came down a long hill and rounded a corner we spotted a rider standing along side of the road. much...MUCH to my surprise it was charlie farrow who had been one of the favorites to win. charlie, while obviously a little out of it, was still charlie. upbeat, positive, optimistic, smiling...when you are as humble of a person as charlie is it seems that the world holds more amazement than it does for most of us. as we rode along charlie began to tell us his story. he had ridden with the leaders for a long time until something knocked him out. i have heard other riders talk about seeing him doubled over with stomach pain and charlie talked about how bonked out and tired he was. this man is tough as nails and he couldn't continue. but instead of packing it in and calling for support the way most of us mortals would, charlie began procuring newspapers. hopefully his story will come to light in his own words but my understanding is that after scrounging up some newspapers he then found a cemetary, laid down, packed himself in the newspaper and drifted off to sleep. by the time we got to him he had been sleeping for a couple hours at least and was now ready to get back on the bike. this man is amazing. everyone on transiowa suffers, but this was ridiculous. and after all of this the guy was smiling and happy and the world was his to explore and experience. such a contagious personality was great to ride with.
the rest of the trip into the last gas station was fairly uneventful. whatever town we were in, we knew that we had only 40 miles to go with enough time that it was no longer a consideration. so, it was breakfast time. at this gas station we met back up with gersib and the two from the earlier stop. so we now...some 27 or so hours in...had a group of 7 hanging out having breakfast. people were having coffee and donuts and breakfast pizza and alerting families/support people of our eventual finish. it was amazing. soon we bid the 2 farewell and matt, matt, andy, charlie and i headed back out. it wasn't long before my fixed gear finally got the best of me. i was toast. i knew i was going to finish and i wasn't cramping or bonking but i just couldn't keep up. we rode the most memorable stretch of the ride which was a series of rollers beyond anything i've ever ridden. the downhills hurt, the uphills were very long walks and the tops of my feet were paying the price for assisting my brakes by pulling up against my shoes going downhill. this was making walking almost as bad as riding. so i got dropped. and i was okay with that. i had maybe 2-3 hours left, the sun was up and the end was in sight. i could do this alone. eventually i came out of the rollers and took another gu and the lights turned on. we hit an unexpected flat section of course so i put my head down and began to hammer. somehow i found the strength to bridge back up to the group (pretty sure i surprised myself and everyone else). we all rode together for a little while longer til we got back into some hills. charlie and andy rode off the front and i wouldn't see them again until the finish. good for them. the end was near and everyone wanted to be done...if you had it in you to get there sooner then that's what you should do. i just didn't have it. matt and matt soon dropped me again, i bridged back once more, then got dropped again. i could see ahead of me that gersib had pulled away from wills and i knew we had less than ten miles to go. in fact we were on our final road with the exception of a quarter mile b road that held the actual finish line. so i took one more gu and put in one more effort. i caught back up to wills a couple miles from the finish. it was over and it was obvious. neither one of us had any intention of pushing the pace or attempting to finish without the other. i was happy to have someone with me at the finish. especially someone i began this journey with 31 1/2 hours ago. it just seemed right. as we crested a small rise on the b road the group at the finish line began ringing a bell and everyone jumped to their feet. man was that a sight. matt wills and i rolled across the finish line tied for 11th overall and 5th ss/fixed (i think) somewhere right around 31 hours and 30 minutes having ridden 314 miles of course plus however many ridden off course.
i was trashed. i took some time getting the last 2 days clothes off and getting a beer before finding some shade to sit in and make some phone calls and send some texts. it was good to have family there and a lot of what had quickly become friends. i think everyone that rides a bike in nebraska was there and i had many questions as to what exactly i was going to do with my fisticuff since i'd been promising to never ride a fixed gear again once i finished transiowa. lots of man hugs, respect, love and beer being passed around at the finish line. shortly after wills and i finished two more came through and then one of the absolute highlights of the weekend was being there when paul jacobson finished. this man has battled transiowa for four years now with incredible spirit and determination. and he finally got his. the smile on his face told the story of the last 4 years. on top of that, i had the honor of handing him a brand new vassago fisticuff frameset for his effort. a couple of beers, and many many congratulations and thank yous later we headed to mcdonalds. i tried to eat as fast as i could because i was scarily close to falling asleep face down in my food. soon i gave up, passed out, and woke up 3 hours later back in decorah.
gersib and charlie
40 miles left
finishing with wills

much respect mg

what its all about

thank god for shade

congrats paul

weapon of choice getting some well deserved rest

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

transiowa v.5 pt.3

all of the time cutoffs in transiowa are based loosely on a 10mph average speed. this obviously counts time spent off the bike as well. the only exception to this rule was the final stage, from checkpoint 3 to the finish. we knew we would have a minimum of 12 hours to go the final 100 miles once we left checkpoint 3. that seemed very reasonable so in my mind the race was now to make it to checkpoint 3 in time. we had somewhere around 70 miles to go and by the time we left checkpoint 2 i believe we had somewhere around 7 1/2 hours to get there. doable. we all assumed we would be getting a break from the northwest headwind since we'd been riding away from williamsburg for so long. it only stood to reason that at SOME POINT we would have to turn around. but no...not yet. however, as late evening approached the wind died down as expected. this was nice as we continued northish but disappointing when we finally turned and should have had a tailwind. so it is.
we rode along with renewed conversations that come from full and happy stomachs. and the group had a new member that we took time getting to know. as i said, andy was a perfect fit and conversations came naturally with everyone. gersib at some point began a discussion about how he was the only one taking the easy way out since wills, jeff and andy were single speed and i was fixed. dude...this is transiowa...there is no easy way out. somehow in the failing light the inevitable "shocker" conversation came up. my last name lends itself well to a variety of creative nicknames but predictably the shocker will always come up. however, this one had a new twist that made it pretty funny. apparently a couple of the guys (don't want to incriminate anyone in particular) decided that if i finished transiowa fixed then vassago should custom paint a "shocker" version of a fisticuff in which the front 2/3 of the bike is pink and the back 1/3 is brown. they also felt the headbadge should involve a hand with only three fingers showing. if you need it explained then you are probably better off not understanding.
soon i was able to witness a gorgeous sunset for the second consecutive night. unfortunately with night came the cold. the cold was very hard on me. as i've said, we stopped a lot. it was important and i'm glad we did but i was having such a difficult time getting warmed up and getting muscles loose that every time we stopped i froze and tightened back up instantly. it was a rough cycle to be putting the body through and it was taking its toll on me. i continued eating at a pace more than double what i had anticipated but i was doing a good job of listening to my body and not my expectations. i stayed fed and hydrated for the most part. the closer we got to cp3 the more i hurt, the more cold i got. so buried myself in my ipod and cut myself off again and tried to just put my head down and go through the motions. the legs had become almost robotic and the bike just continued to move forward. time and miles passed and slowly i realized that jeff was starting to fall off the back. he yo-yo'd at first, falling back then catching up repeatedly. eventually gersib, andy and i had ridden off the front and we could barely make out the headlights of wills and jeff behind us. i wasn't sure if wills was hurting or if he was hanging back to ride with jeff. i also wasn't sure if jeff's knee was causing problems or if he was just tiring but i never really considered the possibility of him not being able to continue.
just outside whatever town cp3 was in we had some difficulty. it was obvious that our critical thinking skills were beginning to diminish. seriously, we were just getting dumber. the three of us backtracked and this allowed wills and jeff to rejoin us. we finally found our way around and into cp3. the gas station was shut down but some volunteers had saved some pizza and water. holy god was i ecstatic. on a whim i decided to change socks. its the only spare clothing i brought and it made a huge difference. slightly heavier weight wool than what i'd been wearing and dry. my feet were happy. my stomach was happy. it was sometime between 1 and 2 in the morning and we knew we had the time and ability to finish this thing, especially if we could keep it together through the darkness. and then i looked at jeff and i honestly felt my heart break for him. you could see it in his face. i still didn't know if it was knee or fatigue but he was done. this isn't how it was supposed to go down. we all started this thing together. these guys took me in less than 10 miles into this race. we were now almost 220 miles in and we could sense the finish. jeff was an integral part of this group and a big reason i was still pedaling. having heard his story about v.3 made it that much more surreal. its hard to keep your emotions in check when you've put your body through everything we'd already been through, and i was devastated. it was obvious there was nothing we could do and i knew i had to bury my sadness for my own sake. i shook jeff's hand and headed out with the two matt's from lincoln and andy from cali in search of a second sunrise.
saturday night's sunset
l to r: gersib, jeff, wills, andy

thinking this is shortly before 9p.m.

gersib and andy getting restarted after a break

best guess is this is sometime shortly before cp3...maybe between midnight and 1a.m.