Monday, November 27, 2006

JingleCross Pictures

I took a few pictures during the JingleCross elite race. The pictures don't really convey how long and steep the hill is, but you can see it in the faces of the racers. If you see yourself and want a higher quality version of the picture, let me know.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Jingle Cross Rocks!

Christy and went Jingle Cross in Iowa City today. What a fun event! This race is the real deal. Out of state license plates out-numbered Iowa plates in the parking lot. If people are going to drive a few hundred miles for a race, they must be fast.

We got there about an and hour and 20 minutes before my race (cat 3/4), so I was little rushed getting ready (I like to take my time). Since I didn't have much time, something had to give.

At race time I ran through my mental checklist:
  1. No real warm-up. Check.
  2. No pre-ride of a tricky, technical course. Check.
  3. No real 'cross-specific training. Check. (OK, I did ride on grass once this week).
  4. No real cardio training of any kind in the last month or so. Check.

So, after going through the checklist, I sized up my competition. Rob, Kyle, Jay, Marco, Dominic, Dennis, and Andy were there, to name a few. Looking at them I started to think I was in the wrong race. I checked my USAC license. Yup, still cyclocross cat. 4. Damn. I guess I'm in the right place.

I started off in the back, to save other the trouble of passing me. It worked. I cut a few blistering nine minutes laps. The best Christy had to offer was "You're staying consistent!". She always finds something positive in any situation. The run-up on Mount Krumpit really hurt, but the crowd on Mount Krumpit was great! There is nothing like hot chicks screaming the top of their lungs to motivate you. They even offered cookies on the last lap. More on Mount Krumpit later.

As best as I could tell I finished DFL in 50th place. But I finished. No matter how much it hurt, I was going to finish. There are several others behind me in the results, because they didn't finish. I did.

After the race I popped a cold one, and Christy and I hiked up Mount Krumpit to watch the elite races. What a cool place to watch a 'cross race. We hung out on the hill with the loonies that had previously been cheering me on. It didn't take long until we were assimilated by the loonies, and were screaming encouragement to the racers. It was cool.

Much respect to the promoters of this event, and to everyone that raced in this event. Best DFL I've ever had.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nice Weather is Gonna Wear Me Out

This nice weather is gonna wear me out. This time of year I hate to let a nice day go by without getting out and doing some riding, cause it could be a few months until the next nice day.

On the bright side, each nice day gets us one day closer to spring. In four short weeks the days will start getting longer.

I didn't ride at all yesterday (had a house full of people all day), but got out early on the MTB for a couple of hours of fun riding, then got the 'cross bike out after that for another hour of grass riding and barrier work. I found out that my HR jumps 10 BPM every time I do a set of barriers. After the riding was done, Keaton and I hung outdoor Christmas lights, and then cut and split firewood until dark.

Tomorrow I am planning on doing some morning gravel with Cory. I'm going to try to convince him to go easy on me, so I have something left for JingleCross on Sunday.

Noonan's blog had a description of the JingleCross course along with some video. It looks like the course has it all, sand, mud, fast descents, and evil run-ups. I just hope the rain stays away for the weekend. Some guys like 'cross in the mud. I wonder if I'm one of them?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Be Thankful

Christy and I skipped out of work a little early this afternoon with the idea that we would go home and get ready for a houseful of people on Thanksgiving. As soon as I got out in the fresh air, any hope of getting work out out me before sundown disappeared. It was just too nice (again). Christy was nice enough to let me off the hook for a few hours so I could get a ride in.

Which bring me to my point. Find something for which you're thankful. For me it's not too hard. I've got a great wife, great kid, great family, great friends, great team, and great people to ride and race with. I am a lucky, lucky man and I am living a dream. It's easy to lose site of that sometimes. It's good that we have a day that causes us to think about stuff like that.

OK, enough with the serious stuff. I'm going to ride as much as I can during the long weekend. I'm going to try to get some barrier/cross practice in tomorrow, I might go to Boone on Friday, Cory and I are doing the another 50 miles of gravel on Saturday (meet at Ada Hayden north parking lost at 10:00 am Saturday if you are interested, but let me know, so we don't leave without you), and I'll be going to Jingle Cross to race the TriCross for the first time on Sunday. So much for a restful November.

Speaking of Cory, it sounds like he's rounded up a bunch of sponsors/schwag for his Macky Du benefit race next month (December 9th). Read more about here. I've also added a link to the right column. This race will raise money to buy bikes for underprivileged kids. No kid should be without a bike.

It's gonna be a great long weekend. Go ride your bike!

Monday, November 20, 2006

I've got a Confession

I've got a confession. In a previous post I admitted to owning six bikes. That's not the whole truth. It's time to come clean. I've got another bike. I was very young, it was a different time (Richard Nixon was President) and buying the bike was an impulsive decision. It was a Follis. It was a brand that I had never heard of before, but it was made in France, and had strange words like Tour de Flanders on it. It was a good bike. It took me on several RAGBRAIs, and I just could not part with it. I had dreamed of racing bikes, and at the time, this was as close to a race bike as I was going to get. So, the bike followed me through life, even though I haven't ridden it since 1989.

I had mostly forgotten about this bike, but dug it out of storage to steal its drop bars when doing the Rig Alley Cat conversion.

When Cory was at my place on Saturday as we were preparing for Cranksgiving, he took one look at the poor, abused bike and said "Looks like a fixie project bike". I quickly dismissed his comment as lunacy.

After hanging out this weekend at Cranksgiving, with the all the cool kids riding fixies, I went home and did some reading. I read about the training benefits, the basic connection to the bike, and the fun of the very simplest form of cycling. I also did a little thinking about some way I could make this happen.

As it turns out, (and as Cory's sharp eye quickly noticed) this bike is a good candidate for a fixie conversion. It has a steel frame and horizontal rear dropouts.

Hmmm. Note to self - stop at the hardware store and buy some sandpaper . . .

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Road Less Traveled

I did Donny’s Cranksgiving race in Des Moines today. It was a fun race/ride with huge amounts of schwag.

I had done a little map studying the night before, to get a feel for the terrain. I was mostly unfamiliar with that part of Des Moines, so I didn’t know what to expect. My map work had shown a wealth of convenience stores to the North and East of the Mars Café. When Donny handed out maps in the pre-race meeting, his map had most stores as South and West of the Mars Café. Hmm. Go with the plan? My general inclination is to zig when most other people zag, and to the travel the road less traveled. I stuck with my plan, and got my wish.

I made several tactical blunders before/leading up to the race. The first was bringing my Rig in its wounded state (seized bottom bracket). I was stuck with 32x16 gearing, and I was slow. The second blunder was to zig when everyone (I mean everyone) else was zagging. They can’t all be wrong. Most all of them LIVE IN THIS TOWN. I don’t.

I went east at the start when most went west. I was going to stop at the first convenience store, but after waiting for traffic, there was at least ten people waiting with me. So I continued east on University with almost no one following. I just caught a glimpse of Squirrel heading south on a side street. I briefly debated following him, as he is the best alley cat rider I know, but I stuck to the plan. It was to be my final tactical blunder of the day. After that, I was doomed to a slow finish, and an interesting ride. I did see a part of Des Moines that I don’t normally see. At least I lived through it. If you are going to make these kind of mistakes, do it in the offseason!

At the awards ceremony, I hung out with some cool people, had a good time, and enjoyed the day. Oh, and I didn’t win the Surly Steamroller frame. That was a relief. I was afraid that my winning ways would become a curse.

I’m going to Seven Oaks tomorrow to ride a few laps if anybody is interested. Chuck says the trails are in perfect condition.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Skanky Alley Cat

I'm taking the Rig to the Donny's Cranksgiving race this weekend, and I've been trying to give it some of that skanky feel that a good urban alley cat bike has. It will never be a true Alley cat, cause it's not a fixey, and it has a brake.

Tonight I put an old (vintage 1974) set of drop bars that I had laying around.

I had to bungle together a way a way to get a brake handle on the bars (using zip ties). I also wrapped the bars in friction tape. Now were getting some skank. I was gonna swap out the fork for a rigid, but ran out of time.

We see how it goes this weekend. Note to self - take spare zip ties.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

McFarland Park Duathlon

My good friend Cory is planning a Dualathon. The goal of this event is to raise money for the purchase of bicycles for kids for the holidays. These bikes will be distributed to suitable candidates through Youth and Shelter Services of Ames. All of the event fees will go toward this goal.

Mark you calendars (Saturday December 9th, 10:00 AM).

Going Slow at Cranksgiving

I’ve started the winter-long process of going through each of my bikes, part by part, to clean, lube and inspect everything. I try to pace myself over the winter so I don’t get through the bikes too early. The process helps to stave off winter boredom, and helps keep me connected to cycling.

I am planning on racing in Donny's Cranksgiving race on Saturday. The race favors an urban bike. I’m a rural guy, with rural bikes, so I’m in somewhat of a quandary. I figured the Rig was my best bet.

Tonight I was cleaning and inspecting the Rig. I put on some slicks, and was planning on changing the gearing from 32x16 to something higher. After changing the gearing, I tried to adjust the EBB, and it would not budge. Hmm. I got a punch out and tried to move the EBB wedge from the other side. The EBB wedge now has two holes in it. Hmm. At that point I gave up and put the 16-tooth rear back on. (Even that was a struggle).

Because of the EBB trouble I will be going slow on Saturday, but that was probably going to be the case anyway. At least I have an excuse. See you then.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Inuagural Voyage of the TriCross

Cory and I went on the first of many Saturday morning winter rides. These rides are intended to be slow, base building rides. We've been talking about it for a while, but something had always gotten in the way. Nothing could stop us this time, not even a little snow.

It was to be the first gravel ride for both our bikes; my new Tricross, and his LeTour fixie. The plan was to meet at Ada Hayden at 10:00. On my ride to Ada Hayden the gravel was perfect. It was just slightly moist and not a all sloppy.

I got to Ada Hayden a little early so I stopped to take a picture.:
Enjoy the bike cleanliness. It would not last. Oh, and don't tell Donny I put water bottle brackets on it. He says that "pussifies" a cross bike.

When Cory got there we took off to the north to Story City by way of Gilbert. The gravel continued to be in pretty good shape. Then we turned east into Story City and everything turned to slop. This picture doesn't do it justice, but that's because I was afraid to take a hand of the bars to snap a pic in the real slop.

As the temps got above freezing, the road continued to soften. In some places it was great, in some places, total slop. Oh well, we had fun.

My new bike is now officially broken in:

Don't worry. I washed it right after I took this picture. Oh, the new setup from Donny was great. There were no ill effects from the new saddle height in 2.5 hours of riding. I will attempt to transfer that fit to my other bikes (I now have six).

Don't Let the Snow Scare You

Don't let the snow scare you away tomorrow (today). We still plan on riding from Ada Hayden at 10:00 on Saturday. Comments or concerns call 515-290-7789. We'll give you the straight poop.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fitting with Donny

I went down to Rassy's for my final fitting with Donny Quixote on my new 'cross bike. It is one sweet looking bike! The fitting went well, and was very interesting process.

The first step was to confirm measurements from the initial fitting, and take a couple of additional body measurements (thigh length, number of teeth, distance from the sun. OK, kidding about the last two - but it was very thorough) . We then talked about and tried a couple of different stem lengths/angles/heights. No surprises so far.

Then he set the saddle height. It was a good 1.25 inches higher that I am currently running. Wow, what a difference! It's going to take some getting used to, but I think I will have a lot more power because of this change.

My current (low) saddle height was a result some IT band trouble that I had experienced last winter. I did a little research and found that improper seat height could cause the problem. I got a saddle height formula from a book somewhere, and set all my bikes according to the formula. It felt low, but I didn't want to change too much, because it was from a book, so it must be good. To compensate, I had moved my saddle way back in the rails. It felt weird. The new saddle height feels much more natural and powerful. In reviewing Donny's measurements, I measured my inseam wrong, so that threw everything else off.

The other big change Donny made was to move my cleat position forward on the shoe, under the balls of my feet. I'd never really given my cleat position much thought, but I can feel the difference.

Donny also gave me a few things to watch for when trying out the new setup, and told me to call if I had any questions or problems. We then swapped out of few of the parts (seat and tires), and I was on my way home with my pretty new ride.

Thanks to Marc Hollander and the 'cross mafia for organizing the bike raffle, Rassy's for donating the bike, and Donny for donating the fitting. It's been a fun deal to be a part of.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Shorts in November

It was such a gorgeous day (80 degrees and sunny), that I skipped out of work early again to go for a 4 hour ride that included nearly everything that Story County has for a mountain biker. Cory joined me partway thought the ride. The pace really picks up when he's around.

Now, I'm exhausted. I barely have the strength to type. I don't think one Cliff bar was enough food for the ride. I came home and slumped into a catatonic state. When I came to, I was sitting in the dark. When Christy came home, she said, "Are you OK? You look like you're gonna puke." For the record, I didn't.

So far, it's been a great offseason. I got 12 hours of riding in during the past 5 days.

I think I'll go eat something now.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stealing Another Ride from Winter

It was a great late fall day. Temps were in the 60's, with clear skies and calm winds. Any time you can get out to ride in the dirt in November is a good day. If you can do it in shorts, that's a bonus!

Because of the time change, it gets darks real early, so the only way I was going to get some riding in was to skip out of work early. Done.

Geared up and ready to go. Even at mid-afternoon, the sun sits low in the sky.

We're only 6 weeks away from the shortest day of the year.

I've switched my Oakley Half Jackets to the G30 lenses. With the low sun, and the glare all during the day, they are perfect. I don't even know they are there. I've gotten rid of all my other sunglasses and only wear my Half Jackets.

I just rode around for fun for a couple of hours. It was great!. Nothing to worry about but getting home by dark. So I took some pictures.
A nice view of the river:

The beavers have been getting ready for Winter. Are you ready?

Another good view of the river:

I had to work hard for this shot. It's off the beaten path:

The shadows are getting long. Looks like it's time to head for home:

I made it before dark (just barely):

I got about two hours of riding in. For November, that's great. I plan on doing the same ride/same place tomorrow (temps will be in the 70s), if anybody is interested. I'll be riding in the afternoon. Contact me through the blog, or at 515-290-7789 if you are interested.
Oh, and for those of you scoring at home, I'm at 195 lbs this morning. 16 lbs to go.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

TOBASCO Ride Report

I was feeling a little better today so I thought I would ride the portion of the TOBASCO (Tour of Boone and Story county) route that was close to home. The route came within a 1/4 mile of my front door. It would have been a shame to miss it. The total route runs 159 mile in a loop of Boone and Story county gravel, "B" roads, and even some single-track.

My plan was to ride the route backwards from about mile 88, and meet up with the others at some point during the route. I wasn't sure when I would meet up with them. So, I just went slow, and enjoyed the ride. I started at the Bear Creek access by the Skunk river, and rode north to Anderson canoe access.

The wood are pretty this time of year.

Apparently this was the Sycamore Trail from a previous time:

This is always a nice spot to take a break.

And, finally out on to some vintage Iowa gravel:

I worked my way south and east (into the wind) following the TOBASCO cue sheet

I knew I was going the right way because there were several "B" road sections. All but one spot was passable.

And then I came on this curiosity:

Apparently the Iowa Prairie Bear, long thought to be extinct, is alive and well in northeastern Story county.

When I was just about ready to give up on the TOBASCO riders, they popped over the hill.

It was Matt (the organizer), Cory, and Nick.

Finally, back to the single-track:

Cory was riding strong on the Cannondale today. I struggled to keep up with him.

Matt and Nick were both riding Crosschecks.

Oops. Cory flatted right at the end of the single track.

At least he had a good spot to fix it.

and an audience:

After the single track we rode the 1/4 mile up the hill to my house where they filled camelbacks and drained bladders. Then they took off to complete the last 40-60 miles of their journey.

For the day I did around 50 miles of gravel, "B" road, and single-track. I went pretty easy going out, an we went lots faster coming back. It was way better than laying on the couch, moaning about being sick, and I felt better during the ride than I had all week.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fair to Partly Crappy

A really good weekend was followed by a somewhat crappy week. I started feeling a little sick the minute I got off the bike on Sunday, and went downhill from there. I guess that's what happens when you put out a hard effort on little to no conditioning.

Getting sick has also messed with my plans to do Matt and Cory's TABASCO ride tomorrow. Depending on how I feel, I may ride backwards on the route until I meet up with them, and ride for a while. At my best, I was iffy and doing 159 miles of gravel. I'm not at my best right now. Not even close.

On a bright note, I went to Rassy's on Thursday morning so Donny Quixote could do my preliminary fitting for the new bike. I'm pumped!

Although there's not been much new content (I've been sick - OK), the blog's been getting a workout. Both and Donny have linked to my blog. Those guys get some serious traffic! We mere mortals can only dream about getting that kind of viewage. OK lurkers, I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing. I'm buying another round of NyQuil. Who wants one?