Saturday, December 30, 2006

More Fixie Fun

I took the steamroller out for another 2 1/2 hours of gravel with Cory this morning. That makes for 7 1/2 hours of fixed gear riding in the last 4 days, and my legs can feel it. I feel both tired and stronger. Riding a fixed gear bike works your legs over in ways a geared bike doesn't. Thinks like back pressure and 130rpm cadence going down hills are hard to duplicate on a geared bike. There is also the challenge of never coasting. Never. If the bike is moving, my legs are moving.

I'm know I'm not telling you fixie freaks anything new, but it's all new to me, so I thought I would share.

Cory also has some mad Photoshop skills. Notice in this picture he made it appear as If I was not wearing a helmet. It has to be Photoshop, because I always wear a helmet. Always.

Apparently I've turned into a moron (or am trying to turn myself into a moron). I never noticed during the whole ride. Didn't even notice when I got home. It's one of those things that make you go "Hmmm". For now, I'll blame it on all of the other cold weather gear.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Fixie Ride

I went for the first ride on the Surly Steamroller fixie project. What a cool bike! I had intended this build would last all winter (too keep me busy), but the nice weather got the best of me.

I had a couple of fixie moments when I instinctively tried to bunny hop obstacles. That just don't work on a fixie. I'll figure it out.

I did about three hours of gravel/urban assualt. I stopped by the LBS to hear their exclaimations of "Cool Bike". When you can get a bike mechanic to say "Cool Bike", you've got something.

I am really pleased with the way this bike came together. It's really fun to ride.

BTW, I can skid a fixie. OK, it's on a gravel driveway, but it's a start. More too come.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas

First of all, I want to wish everyone a happy Christmas, happy Chanukah, Kwanza, happy Festivus (for the rest of us), and happy everything else I can think of. Second, I apologize for not updating the blog this week. Between the holidays, early season training, and work, I’ve not had much spare time. Something had to give, and the blog took the brunt of it.

Here’s what been happening. I went out early on Sunday (Christmas Eve) for a great frozen trail ride. I left early to catch the still frozen trails (note to self – if the sun is out, get done by 10:30). Other that some frosty roots ands rocks, the conditions were perfect for this time of year. Here are some pictures from the ride:

Here's how I roll this time of year. Notice the clear cockpit. No computer, no HRM, and no GPS. Just out for a ride, having fun.

There is still frost on the prairie:

It looks cool from the woods:

A new tree down. I hope the deer hunter wasn't in the stand when it went down.

I wish everyone would be a litle more sensitive of the trail tread this time of year. Even though the temps may be in the 40s, it takes a long time for the tread to dry out. If you can't get out when the tread is frozen (like I did), stay off. Tracks lead to holes, holes lead to water retention, water retention leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side (trail paving).
Frequent readers will recognize this view (one of my favorites):

It was a great trail ride for late December. I hope there are more of these, but I don't expect it. Winter cold and snow will come any day now.

I finally got the Surly Steamroller fixie project together, and went for the first ride today (it is a Christmas present to myself). What a treat to ride this piece of simplicity! Here are some pictures of the completed bike:

Christy also got me a set of rollers for Christmas. I went for my first roller ride tonight. I didn’t fall, but I was close a couple of times. It will be good to add this to my workout regime.
Have you noticed the days are getting longer? I had a dream about Finchford last night. It must be a sign about me road racing.

January 1st is coming soon. On January 1st I start my season in earnest. OK, I’ve started the season already. But on January 1st, I take the next step.

Monday, December 18, 2006

First Massage

After this weekend's activities, I was a little sore. Today was a recovery day. I mentioned that to Christy, and she suggested that I get a massage after work. She has been going to the local cosmetology school for massages for a while, and has encouraged me to do the same. Thad has also touted the benefits of massage. Somehow it just felt dirty having a hot chick lay her hands on me. I need to get past that.

Today I had my first massage. I was great! If you've never had one, treat yourself. Its not only treat, but it has real benefits, and aids in recovery. And at $25/hour, it's not that expensive.

As a random note, when standing on Mount Krump at JingleCross with 150 other nut jobs, umm, fans, I noticed that I didn't see one overweight person in the crowd. When was the last time you stood in a crowd of 150 Iowans, and didn't see an overweight person in the bunch? Try that experiment at Walmart.

Another random note. The Steamroller fixie project is coming along nicely. I might have some pictures this week.

As a final note, I weighed 194.8 lbs this morning. It's a major victory, breaking through resistance at 195. I've been hanging out in the 198-195 range for about 5 weeks (its hard to lose weight this time of year). In my experience, once you break through resistance, more droppage will follow. Lou has inspired me. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

No Bonbons for Me

I said in a reply to an earlier post that I was going to sit on the couch this weekend and eat bonbons. That didn’t happen.

I went to the gym on Friday to lift (I’m kinda digging on the weightlifting). On Saturday I went on a 3-hour gravel/urban (as urban as Ames gets) ride with me, myself, and I. With temps in the 50s, it was perfect December weather, and it was a good time to think about some things going on at work (which I won’t bore you with).

I was thinking of doing little to nothing on Sunday, when an IORCA post caught my eye. I thought, “I should do that”, so I did. I showed up at Starbucks and introduced myself to Lou. Shortly after that Kim, Jane, and Rick Noyes got there, and were off to Booneville, via gravel. That is, after we cleared the city. Those city folks sure have to do a lot of riding to get to gravel.

The gravel was nice, with my HR around 135. This is what LSD should be. Then we hit the hills. Regular readers will remember that hills are my weak point. I still suck at climbing. I’m working on it (196 lbs this morning), but I still suck at climbing. At one point, when climbing a particularly steep hill, I found my maximum heart rate (it’s 184 for those of you scoring at home). I put it there and kept it there for at least a minute. It hurt. But the alternative was walking, ‘cause I had run out of gears. I wasn’t gonna do that.

We got back to Des Moines, and rode through some areas that I didn’t even know existed. Even Kim commented that he hadn’t ridden in one of the areas before. Lou said his knowledge of urban riding areas was the fault of, “Spending too much time on a bike”.

I chatted with Lou some, and he has become my new inspiration. During last season, I attributed my inability to keep up with, “I’m to old to be fast”, and “I’m to tall/big to be fast”. Lou dispels both of those notions. He’s 46 years old, and is 6’5”. Damn, there goes most of my excuses. I’ve still got, “I’m too fat to be fast”, but that isn’t a real excuse, because it can be fixed. I’m working on it.

For the weekend I got 6 ½ hours on the bike, and 7 ½ total hours. That’s pretty good for a weekend in December.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Steamroller Project Bike

My Surly Steamroller showed up today!
I found it on You never know, buying used stuff over the Internet, but the frame looks like new, and I got it for a really good price. Regular readers will remember that I gave up on the Follis fixie conversion, and later found the Follis a very good home (in reality, the good home found me). The Steamroller will now become my fixie training bike.

So, I spent a little time tonight going through my spare parts to see if I had enough stuff to make it into a complete bike. I think I'm pretty close. I'll keep you posted.
Is there anything cooler that the Surly logo?
I spent a few hours cleaning and reassembling the Follis last night in preparation for sending it to it's new home. It was a walk down memory lane for me. The Follis took me on RAGBRAIs in 74-76 (before it was called RAGBRAI). I'll post a few of those stories someday, after the statute of limitations has run out.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I got tagged by Cory tonight. This tagging thing is spreading like wildfire. This morning I hadn't heard of it, this evening, I'm it.

I'm not a big fan of Internet chain letters, but this is more about self-exploration. I guess the idea is to expose a little more of yourself than you normally do, and to let something out that you wouldn't normally say. Here goes:
  1. I plan to retire from my current job at age 55. I'm 47 now. I don't know what I will do after that.
  2. I would choose Mary Ann over Ginger.
  3. I move to a new hobby (obsession) about every 5 years. My current obsession is cycling/mountain biking/cyclocross (does that count as three separate hobbies?). I always think that this obsession is the "real thing" for me, but it never lasts. Some of my previous obsessions have included golf (several times), gardening, cooking, the Blues (I was in a band for a while), beer brewing, computers, online gaming, motocross, and stock trading.
  4. I've been married three times. The first two lasted four years each.
  5. I've lived in the same house, and had the same job for 23 years. At least something is consistent in my life.
  6. Family is very important to me. At times, I've lost sight of that. I think I've got it figured out now.

There. That was refreshing. I feel better.

Thad, Chris, Pete, Squirrel, Amanda, and Jane. If you read this, you are it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

MackyDu Race Report

OK, its not really a race report because I didn't race. I helped Cory put the race on, and took some pictures.

The prize table was second to none. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen more stuff on a swag table.

The race started with point-to-point-to-point run (pick your own route) of about 2 miles through McFarland Park. After that was a 22 mile gravel bike ride out the backside of McFarland (I was the turn around point at the end of the route). Finally, another point-to-point-to-point run to finish up the race.
Here are some of the riders coming in to the biking checkpoint:

Matt came into the biking checkpoint first.

Some more gravel goodness:

Matt and Bob Schliesman are leading the race at this point:
Bob finished the biking section in first place:
Bob held on to the lead to finish the race in first place:
This husband/wife team ran/biked the race together. She finished as the first female. He was the second male (sorry, I can't remember their names).

Everyone thought the alleycat format was fun, and had a good time. There was much talk of "Next year . . .".

Friday, December 08, 2006

MackyDu Fever

Is it getting warm in here, or am I getting a case of the MackyDu Fever?

I just talked to Cory, and he said he has so much stuff to give away that he is going to have to drive a car to McFarland! I've NEVER seen Cory drive a car, so you can imagine how much stuff he is bringing.

MackyDu fever . . Catch it! We'll see you all tomorow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Free to Good Home

On Monday I announced that had given up on the Follis Fixie conversion. I offered it "Free to Good Home" as an afterthought, not expecting anyone to be interested. To my suprise, I got a reply to that post from someone named, of all things "Follis". We e-mailed back and forth, and I asked him how he found his way to my blog. Here is his reply (reprinted with permission):

"Thanks for writing back. I have been wanting a Follis bike for years being that I am a Follis. In 2003, I was stationed in Germany and went to Lyon, France where they are made. However they are custom made only and I, as a soldier, could not convince my wife that I needed a $1000.00 bike because it would be an heirloom. The way I found your blog started in 2004 while deployed to Iraq. Feeling death was imminent and that I would like the children to know about the Follis bicycle heritage in Europe, I created a Google alert for anything to do with "Follis and bike" hoping to find a bike. Until your site appeared in my inbox, I had no leads."

"Free to Good Home". Needless to say, I'm going to find a way to get the bike to him. We're working out the details.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another Confession

Another confession? No, I didn't find another bike hidden behind the canoe I never use.

The 2007 season started for me tonight. But we're not to the confession yet. You'll have to be patient.

My plan was to take the last part of October and all of November off. I can check that off my list. I rode some during that time, and even raced a few times, but it was all for fun.

I started the 2007 season tonight because I joined a gym. I've got free weights in the basement that I used last year, and I've got a trainer that I've used in previous years with some success. This year I'm trying to bump things up a notch, and drop a few pounds. That, and the gym deal was too good to pass up ($20 for 3 months, with half going to the Ames Cross Country team).

So, I went to the gym tonight for the first time in a long time. It's a good gym. They've got three locations in Ames, and their equipment is top-notch. When I signed up, I didn't realize that that they had a "cycling studio", full of LeMond Revmasters.

Here comes the confession. I went to a spinning class in the "cycling studio". I was a little apprehensive, but it was pretty cool, and it was definitely a good workout. We did many short intervals (less that a minute), some with high cadence, some with very high cadence (she was asking for 120+), and some muscle tension intervals. I thought I was going to die during the early high cadence, out of the saddle stuff. But I really liked the low cadence, muscle tension stuff. My t-shirt was soaked at the end of the hour, and I don't think my HR dropped below 155 during the hour (and was frequently above 170). I've ridden enough to retain some muscle tone, but I've definitely lost cardiovascular fitness during my down time. I'm OK with that. There's plenty of time to get that back. I'm more interested in muscle recruitment at this point. I still plan on riding outside on Saturday mornings. Except this Saturday morning, when I expect to see you all at MackyDu!

Maybe Cory and I will have to do our ride on Sunday this week. Anybody else wanna go?

Monday, December 04, 2006


If you saw this guy coming your way, would you run?

Don't be frightened; this is my new Outdoor Research Gorilla Balaclava. I don't know why they named it after a ground dwelling herbivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. Regardless, it is toasty warm. I haven't taken it out on a ride yet, but Cory has given it a ringing endorsement.

Speaking of Cory, his MackyDu race is this weekend. Nothing would make me smile more than to see a huge crowd of nutjobs, err riders, at McFarland this Saturday. The forecast is calling for temps near 40. That's like suntan weather folks! Get out there!

One more note. I had previously talked about renovating my Follis as a fixie. I tried. I really, really tried. I was willing to sand/repaint the frame, and I was willing to deal with the French threads. What did me in was the frame size. It just didn't fit . Remember, I bought this bike when I was 14 (at the time I didn't even know bikes came in different sizes). It's top tube measures about 56 cm. For now, it is a piece of abstract art on the wall of my shop. If you need a 56cm fixie frame in need of some TLC, let me know (free to good home).

I still need (want) a fixie, so I bought a slightly used 59 cm Surly Steamroller frame on Sweet! Details to come.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I went for an icy death ride with Cory this morning. The plan was to do around 50 miles of gravel. The temperature was marginal (around 20), and there was a nasty northwest wind. It was the kind of wind that gives you an instant ice cream headache. Shortly after leaving home I realized I was under-geared, and went back to get ski goggles. That helped some.

I rode to Ada Hayden and met up with Cory. We tooled around a little waiting for Matt (he was the smart one in the bunch and didn't show). Then we headed north into the teeth of the wind. It was not too painful, except for my face, which really hurt. Even with the ski goggles, I was getting a bad case of brain freeze. Cory was wearing some kind of full face mountaineering gear, and look like a cross between a ninja and the invisible man. He said it was toasty warm. I gotta get me one.

After a few miles I wimped out and we turned east, with the wind. Going with the wind was much better. We sat up, chatted, and enjoyed the ride. We briefly considered riding east for 20-30 miles, then calling Christy to come and get us, but instead turned into the back side of the McFarland prairie. I rode part way across the prairie with Cory, then turned around and headed for home. It sounds like I missed some excitement shortly after that. Yesterday, when I warned about deer season, this wasn't exactly what I was worried about.

Even though I wimped out, I got in almost 2 hours on the bike. And, with wind chills in the -10 to -15 range, also got some pretty big suffer points (for those of you scoring at home).

Today was the first day I used the little had warmer packets in my shoes. I wouldn't say my feet were warm, but they didn't get as painfully cold as they have in the past. After I was done with them, Christy put them in her socks for the rest of the day. I think they're still putting out heat for her. For the price of a gel ($1.25), they're worth it.

I wonder how the Team 14 guys are doing in KC at the 'cross races? With the snow KC got earlier this week, KC should be good and sloppy, just like Thad likes it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Be Careful Out There

It's gonna be cold this weekend, but its gonna be dry. So I'm thinking to my self. "Self, I should get one more woods ride in before the snow falls". Sounds good, right?

Then I remembered, tomorrow starts three weekends of shotgun deer season. Trust me, you don't want to be in the woods with those guys. It's sounds like a war out there. And if you must go into the woods, wear bright colors, and leave your antler hat at home.

Saturday Gravel

Cory, Matt and I will be doing 50 miles or so of gravel tomorrow morning (Saturday). We'll be leaving from the north Ada Hayden parking lot at 10:00. Come join us if you wish. The pace will be slow to moderate, of we can keep Cory reigned in!

Let me know if you are coming (515-290-7789), so we don't leave you behind.

Oh, and dress warm (22 degrees at 10:00 with a gusty northwest wind). It's time to break out the cold weather gear.