Thursday, February 12, 2015

Back for 2015?

I'm thinking about firing this thing back up for 2015. After the Cheq 100k last year I wrote a post and while proof reading thought that it came off too serious. Then another about the Cheq 40. Same thing. So I never posted them. Riding a bike is fun, really nothing serious about it at all. I'm going to try and focus more on the fun and less on the results/ mindset. I usually post all my good photos on FB, I'll try and save some for here.

However, I've moved the blog over to:

Full explanation over there, but the gist of it is mobile functionality which will hopefully help me post more often.

So if you'd like to follow the blog add the new link to your reader.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer 2014

I haven't had a real post since mid- June. I would write and then proof read it and not like the way it came out. It was too serious. It didn't represent my true feelings. I am much more interested in having a good time and hanging out with people than I am about how well I performed or what was going through my head while riding and I don't think I did a good job of conveying that. Onward.

Summer finally arrived and it has been a whirlwind.

Cheq 100k - Had a great time. Course was tough. I was doing well, got a bit lost at one point, got back on course. Suffered after the 100M/100k split to the finish. Hung out for quite a while afterwards and had some beers and pizza. Highlight of the day was Todd finishing the 100M on his 5th attempt.

The Lutsen 99er was the next weekend and was an awesome time. Think Heck of the North times 5.

July was filled with wedding planning and lacrosse. I think I rode my bike twice. I have been getting to the gym a lot though, so not a big deal.

Cooper and I started doing a lot more fishing. My Dad gave Cooper a pole over the 4th and I grabbed my old fly pole. We've been fishing about 2-3 times a week since.

St. Croix
It has become the perfect time filler. If we have a free hour or two we go fishing. So far we have been to Lily Lake in Stillwater, Battle Creek and Powers Lake in Woodbury, The St. Croix beach by our house and along the King Plant outlet.

Biggest catch of the year
Our favorite is Lily Lake and it is only a 5 minute drive from the house. Cooper is into catching bass and Lily has some close to the shore.

First cast!
I have been working on my casting form. It's not easy. If I have the wind to my back I look like a pro. If it is coming from anywhere else I look like the beginner I am. There are a TON of small panfish at Lily. There are times where my fly is in the water for a split second and already gets a strike.

Not too bad from the boat launch
It can get annoying when I am trying to work up to longer casts. Cooper has the biggest catch of the year so far. A nice size large mouth bass. I am in 2nd with a large mouth and Rory is in 3rd with a good size perch. This Sunday I think I am going to go out to River Falls and try my luck for some trout on the Kinnickinnic river.

Typical Lily fish
The wedding was about 2 weeks ago and went great. I think everyone had a good time.I was very nervous about how it was all going to go off, but from my point of view it went smoothly.

After the wedding we went to the Dells for 3 days and stayed at our favorite spot, The Wilderness. I love that place. We've tried them all, and the Wilderness is hands down our families favorite. Going back again next year. That was the "Family Honeymoon". We just booked our "Real Honeymoon" and will be going to the Dominican Republic at the end of January. Should be a fantastic time.

Diana and I also finished our 2nd Half Marathon. This year we did the Gopher to Badger race. It started at the Washington County Fairgrounds and ended in North Hudson. Overall I'd say it was a little easier than the first, but just a little. I don't run very often so my feet started to swell and gave me some trouble but nothing that I couldn't tolerate. I didn't walk till mile 7 this year. Then I would run for about 3/4 of a mile and then walk for 10 seconds. This seemed to work out pretty well.

$20 for the .jpg? Nah, this will do.

For the past week and a half we have been in a bit of a lull. It was much needed though.

Tonight Cooper starts football and next Monday Rory starts soccer and gymnastics. Cooper's practices are in the Afton area so I am going to take advantage of that and ride while he is practicing. Hopefully it will work out well.

In September I will be racing in my first Fat Tire 40. Should be an interesting experience. Then at the beginning of October will be the Heck of the North.

 2014 has been quite a year. It's made me think about getting a Go Pro. I don't really have an interest in watching individual videos of things I film, but I think a Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sept, Oct-Dec video as well as a year video would be pretty cool.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lutsen 99er

(Very late post. I was waiting for pictures, but they were very protected. Not even worth a screen grab.)

I've known for some time that LifeTime puts on great events but had not participated in one since Leadville 2011. I heard about the 99er it's first year but since it fell on the same day as the Chequemegon 100 I never considered it. This year I saw an ad for it and realized that they were on different weekends. I was in.

The event has gotten huge. I think there were 1500 people there between the 3 distances (19,39,99). The vibe was great as well. You often hear about how the gravel races are so relaxed, and the 99er had the same feel. I didn't see anyone sprinting down the hill at the beginning. Everyone was keeping it under 15mph just as asked and not a lot of sprinting once we got to 61 either. Once we turned up Caribou people hit the gas. Myself included.

The first climb was not that bad. I like to climb though, so that probably has something to do with it. About 6 miles in I could still see the leaders about 300 yards in front of me, soon after we went around a corner and they were completely out of sight. They must have finally felt warmed up enough.

We then made a right on to a loose gravel road and the pace picked up. I was hanging in and feeling good. I even bunny hopped a couple puddles which drew a few smiles. However, those would be the only ones I hopped. I rode through the other 87 or so others.

We then turned on to a snowmobile trail and the unpredictable fun began. There was sharp ups and downs, misc. rocks, puddles, and mud. It was fun at first, but did get a little old. Once I unlocked my fork it made for an easier ride. Side note: At about the 10 mile mark there was a young guy on the side of the trail asking for a CO2. I'm usually pretty generous, but fuck that. You don't bring ANYTHING to inflate a flat on a 99 mile  ride you deserve to hang out with the mosquitoes.

At about mile 22 we passed the first aid station and did our first of 2 laps. There were some pretty cool sections of trail in this loop. There was a small creek crossing and a section that seemed as if we were riding through a tunnel in the forest. Coming out of the 2nd lap I stopped at the aid station and got a banana, half a PB&J, a honey stinger waffle, and refilled both my bottles. I headed down the road eating it all and enjoying the hard packed dirt road. I caught up to someone and asked them if they knew how the remainder of the course was. they told me that it was all roads to the finish. Should be much faster than the first half. They were right, but not a lot faster, nor easy. The heavy overnight rains had created massive puddles that seemed to come up about every 100 feet. They were relentless. Some you could barrel through, some you had to pedal through and they all had mud on the other side. It was just a mess.

At some point (Mile 75?) we got out of that and it was all roads till the end. Very enjoyable, very scenic. I just rode my own pace and took it all in. I was shooting for under 7h30m and knew that was in sight if I kept up a 15mph pace. The last mile or so was old MTB trails which were very fun. There was a couple big rocky climbs and a nice downhill as well. When I popped out of the woods I could hear music and knew the end was near. It ended up being a couple miles short of 99, but I was happy to be done.

Great race. I'll be back next year.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stillwater Crit

I've heard about the Stillwater Crit before but have never made it over. This year I had no idea when it was happening again until I was at the Chilkoot Cycles group rode and someone mentioned it.

It was on Father's Day so I decided that it would be a good place to take the family. 
We made the 2 mile drive over because there was the chance of rain and I didn't want the lids to have to put up with possibly having to ride in the rain. It turned out to be gorgeous though.

I couldn't imagine climbing this 23 times But some dudes were flying. According to Strava one guy averaged 18mph up it. IDK. maybe. he was using a Cateye GPS so he's suspect to me. HA.


I don't know the inner workings of this circuit, but there were people that were out there just to have a good time. They were pulled maybe 5 laps in? How is this worth spending money on? Maybe they are just not good at climbing.

Kind of a lame post. Cheq 100 this weekend. Hopefully I have some photos and stories.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Got Nothing

I haven't posted anything in a while so I guess my life has been mundane. It's actually been anything but, just nothing worth writing about. But if thousands of people are into Steve Tilford's blog where he talks about his group ride that day, maybe people are into the mundane. So here goes:

Despite peoples hatred of others listening to music while biking (Because doing two things you like at the same time is unacceptable) I went out and bought a nice pair of headphones for riding. Great fit, they don't fall off and the sound is incredible. The only con I can think of is the cord is a tad short for my liking.

Sports Legs should reach out to Lebron too

I built a pull-up bar for the garage. I've been practicing them at the gym and want to get better. Right now I can do 5 strict pull-ups and 12 kip pull-ups. I'll get better.

My neighbor is moving and gave me a Yakima 1 inch hitch rack. I already have one so I dickered it into a Thule roof rack set up. I wanted a roof rack for days that I have to go a few places other than the trail. I feel that the bike is more secure up on the roof and less likely to be stolen. Who knows. I could be wrong.

I did my first group road ride in about 2 years last Wednesday. It started at the Chilkoot Cafe in Stillwater, headed north for a bit and then picked up on the Gateway to Lake Elmo and then back. It was OK. No real pace line. Everyone was cool. It was a little slow for my liking though. they have a fast ride on Saturday mornings so I am going to give that one a shot and try not to get dropped. 

I bought a 20" replacement blade for my lawnmower. Turns out I need at 21". Back to Home Depot.

Rory and I went to see Shrek the Musical at the Children's Theater. It was good enough. Had some top notch seats though. I told her that we could go wherever she wanted for dinner; she chose McDonald's. I couldn't remember the last time  I even at fast food, so I agreed. I don't know how people eat that shit on the regular. So bland and unfilling. Well, the fries are good.

The last episode of Game of Thrones season 4 is this Sunday. I started watching the show last November and am glad I did. Two weeks ago death of Oberyn was pretty crazy

Although, I still give this death scene the #1 spot.

The teeth touching the curb gives me chills every time.

I'm going to The Battle Creek group ride presented by Erik's Bike Shop tonight. Should be fun as always.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Royal 162

I don't even know where to start. What a day. I guess it started back in September 2013 when Diana and I were choosing a wedding date. I told her that every weekend was open EXCEPT the weekend after Mother's Day. That weekend is never going to be open.

Then January rolled around and I got out a postcard and instead of writing Almanzo 100 as I had for the past 4 years, I slowly wrote Royal 162.

The next order of business was to get a geared gravel bike. I didn't have the cash to just plop down on a nice one so I had to wait and see what happened when I filed my taxes. Turns out it's nice to pay in a lot.

Thanks Obama

So then the training started. Other gravel races. Pushing hard at the gym. Pushing hard on 2 hour rides. Eating...better. All of this in hopes that it would pay off over the course of 162 miles.

I did a final training ride with Curt a week out and felt OK, but not great. When I finished the 62 mile ride I felt a bit exhausted and then immediately thought "I have 100 miles to go at this point next week" I think that's the first time that it really hit me of what I was about to undertake. I contemplated for a day if I should just switch over to the 100. Ultimately I kept coming back to the thought runs through my head at races whenever I get down, harden the fuck up. 

Race day morning I woke up at 3:45am and headed for Spring Valley, MN. I arrived at about 6:10am, checked in and drove over to the finish line to park. I got everything ready to go and hoped that I brought enough supplies.

From there I headed over to the start where there was maybe 110 people? Can't be too sure. Chris said a few important words and then we were off. I was with the lead pack for maybe 5 miles and then decided that they were pushing too hard up the hills for me so I backed off to a comfortable, conservative pace.

Once we hit Nature Rd. I couldn't help myself but to climb a little faster. It was still a bit cold at that point so I thought going hard might warm me up a bit. I don't think it did, but it made me feel good mentally to get out of the saddle and push a bit.

( The very first photo and from here until the very last photo are all courtesy of Craig Linder He did an amazing job of capturing the beginning of the Royal and all of the Almanzo. Great photos.)

From the first to last photo you can see the gap I was creating. jk. they caught right back up on the flat
From there it was just up and down. Looking ahead and seeing what looked like a wall of hills and then getting closer and realizing that it's not that bad.

I happened to look at my overall ride time as soon as it hit 2 hours, which meant this was going on:

Man I missed this.

At mile 60 there was a gas station just off course. At first I was not going to stop, but decided that it would probably be a good idea. I picked up 2 red bulls, a powerade, a snickers, and some beef jerky. I ate the snickers and drank a red bull. Then drank half the powerade and poured the rest in one of my bottles. Back at it.

From there is was more rollers and the gravel seemed to get a little whiter. At some point we dipped into Iowa, I am guessing this is when I saw the Amish people, and then road along the border and then back into Minnesota. It was good to be home.

At mile 105 I crested a hill and saw a bunch of people. For a split second I thought I had caught a group, and then realized that I was back on the Almanzo course. I was feeling good at the time, but this lifted my spirits a bit more.

After riding for a couple minutes and passing a lot of people I began looking around and seeing the carnage. There people were 50 miles in and were suffering. People standing in the ditch on their cell phones calling their SAG wagon. People just laying in the ditch. At one point I think I saw a picnic (Can't be too sure) I felt bad for these people. I am sure that they trained very hard and were disappointed with their performance. I kept looking to see if there was someone that looked like they needed water or a gel, but no one had that look of complete distraught on their face.

It was shortly after this that the temporary crown that I had on my front tooth rattled off. It was pretty weird. I stopped and fished it out of my mouth, threw it in the frame bag and made sure that it went in deep and then continued on with a smile that contained a widdled down tooth. Not a good look.

Once we made the left onto the road that leads to Forestville State Park I started to feel like shit for the first time. I was about 118 miles in and getting exhausted. I pressed on knowing the park was not far ahead and that I could relax there. 

Once I arrived I set my bike up against a fence, grabbed bother water bottles, a bar, and my hydration mix. I laid in the grass for probably 15 minutes just breathing deeply and moving every so often so that people would not stop and ask me if I was alright. After I felt I regained my composure I filled my water bottles and was off. 

I took it very slow up the pavement as I wasn't quite all together and just wanted to get my legs feeling good again. The second half of the pavement climb after the bend I started to pick the pace up a bit and then when I hit the downhill on Maple road I was feeling good again. I approached the first big hill with caution, but the legs felt fine so I tried to push as hard as I could up that section of hills. 

When I got to the creek crossing there were a lot of people sitting and taking their shoes and socks off. Having ridden with wet shoes at the Heck of the North and Ragnarok, I knew that wet shoes really meant nothing and that taking them off would be a waste of time.

I hope this is still standing

Not me, but I used the same method

I climbed out of the quarry and it soon flattened out and I was feeling good enough. With 14 miles? to go I ran into Troy and Scott and rode with them for a couple miles until Scott got a flat and needed to swap it out. It was good to see them and talk to some people that I knew. 

With about 8 miles to go came the suffer fest that is Oriole Road.

For some reason there was a group of about 6 people standing at the bottom looking at their note cards. As I rode by I said "Unfortunately, this is the correct way." I have never made this climb. I have always walked part of it. I started out strong but after my tire slipped a couple times in loose dirt I said screw it and just walked and drank a red bull. It felt good to give me ass a break and use a different muscle group.

After that the last big climb was at the Masonic Park. This hill I have never walked. I was close last year, but after seeing Scott and Kyleen at the top I felt the peer pressure and stuck out the entire climb. This year my legs were feeling better and having some gears made all the difference. After that my spirits were high and with about 4 miles to go I gave it all I had. 

As I made the left hand turn onto the paved path I knew for sure that I had made it. I don't usually get worked up about finishing these races, but I did shout out a couple "Fuck yes" as I saw the 500m sign.

At the Finish line there was Chris waiting to shake everyone's hand. Very classy. I told him how much I enjoyed the race and thanked him for putting it all together.

Also, not me

After I was done I was just exhausted and wanted to sit down. It felt so good.

The thing that made me the happiest all day was that our entire crew finished. Jose, Larry, Troy, Scott, and even Curt. It makes for a great day for all.

Afterwards we went and got some food at The Pizza Place and shared some of the days stories.

A huge thanks to Chris and the entire Skogen family for putting on such a great event. there's no other race that compares. Also, a big thanks to all of the volunteers and to the people out on the course cheering us all on.

I'll be back next year, but I'm going to scale back to the 100 for a bit.

Back home, no worse for wear

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gravel Music

I'm not going to get into what I personally like to listen to when out riding, but a post on the Heck of The North website about winning $100 (I guess that's just the costs of running a once free event)  for an original gravel song that had some tag line in it got me thinking about what other songs were out there about gravel?

I'm sure there is mention of gravel in more songs, but I just searched by the criteria that it had to have 'gravel' in the song title.

I found many different varieties of music. Some bad, some not so great. But I do this for you, the 3 readers...

In 1st place by far is Wu-Tang Clan's Gravel Pit.  This is the only song on this list that I would consider putting on my ipod. Enjoy it, it's all downhill from here.

I don't even know why this song is called 'Gravel'. Maybe it's from a old bike riding Nintendo game where you were on a gravel course?

This song has a few highlights. It starts out with the lyrics "I heard the sound of your bike" I was interested for a second, but it's just not my style. I'll give this song 2nd place.

This takes the Hipster gravel song award. I can't really understand what they are saying though. I do dream sometimes that I lived closer to gravel roads, but that's about my only connection with this song.

This song has some nice guitar riffs and I can relate to the lyrics 'I turn to gravel when I die' as I've felt like I was going to die out on the course, but I still keep turning on to the next gravel road.

If I had to take a guess what the winning Heck of the North song will sound like, I'd guess this:

Here's a gravel song from the most famous artist on this list: Elvis. This is not his best work, but then again he probably didn't steal it from someone else.

In 3rd place is this diddy. Not my style either, but I can appreciate it.

I was surprised that there were not more country songs, but then again, if there were they probably have no correolation to biking as it seems that 50% of the people you encounter are pissed they have to turn their F-350 wheel ever so slightly to get by you.

Did I miss a good song? Post it in the comments.

Good song recommended by Larry: