Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Yuk. There is endless rain in the forecast for a few days:

Good thing I'm doing a little resting this week. Looks like the weather will clear up in time for those Trans-Iowa freaks to do their thing. The gravel will be hard-packed and super fast by the weekend. Mark also issued a warning yesterday. Be careful out there. I don't want to see any of my training buddies taken out by an occurance of late night hubris. Good luck guys.

The rain is also good for sprouting morels. Squirrel, you finding any in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Somehow, with the first MTB races on the season last week, I neglected to pay attention to where I was with my training schedule. After last weekend I continued to train hard (hard for me). Late in the week I noticed that I didn't have the usual spring in my step, and it took me two days to recover from Wednesday's roadie ride. I checked the schedule. Crap! This was supposed to be a rest week. Oops. By then the damage was done.

I now sit home sick, but I'm much better today than I was Saturday. Once I realized my mistake, I went in full recovery mode (napping at will, not leaving the couch all day) on Saturday in the hope that I could recoup my loss. I'm feeling much better today, but I'll still give it a couple more days.

It really helps me to better understand the benefits/necessity of full rest and recovery.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Roadie Ride

I went for a little road ride with Bryan Moritz and Andrew Carney after work tonight. Although I fell off the back a few times, they were gracious and pulled me back on. We did a loop out to McCallsburg and back. The roads were mostly flat, and the county has repaved a lot of the roads in that area, so everything is nice and smooth. Oh, did I mention the weather was near perfect?

Like I said, I struggled at first to keep up with the pace that the two of them were setting. That’s OK because I was expecting it. Then a funny thing happened. About 45 minutes into the ride, I not only was able to keep up, I even took a few short pulls on the front.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sylvan Island Photos

I've uploaded a bunch of pictures of the Expert race from this weekend at Sylvan Island here.

Most races I'm still out riding my bike during the expert race, so it's cool to be able to snap some pictures at this one. Here are a few of my favorites from this year. I'll also include a few of my favorites from last year's race.

This is Brian Eppen and Cam Kirkpatrick in the third lap. I love watching these two guys duke it out.

Jay Chesterman getting some air:

Andy Lueck had a great race. He rode with Brian and Cam for most of the race, and finished in third. He has really stepped it up this year. Here he is leading Cam and Brian through the chute.

Here is a picture of Pete Basso airing it out last year. I wonder if he still has a mountain bike? (Just kidding Pete - Bruce tells me you are doing really well in the Iowa Cup).

This is another picture from last year. I really like how this one turned out. Another lucky shot. I don't know who the rider is. I think he might be from Wisconsin.

If you want a full size copy of any of these (or anything from the Veishea race) let me know.

Wednesday Ride Alert
If you are looking for a fast road ride, Bryan and I are doing the Wednesday thing from Bike World at 5:00. All are invited. Don't worry about your slowness. If you are slow, I won't have to ride home alone.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sylvan Island Race Report

Here is the race report that I promised earlier. Christy and I drove over on Saturday and got a motel room for the night. It is our anniversary weekend, and this is our “outing” to celebrate. Yes, I am a lucky, lucky guy.

We got the race venue at about the same time as Bruce Neil, Sean Myers, Nick Wooley, Mike Lebeda, and Bruce Reese. We all parked together so that worked out. Shortly after that I ran into Cory sleeping in his car (just kidding). But he did look like crap. Oh to be young again, stay out all night, and race in the morning. I got registered, suited up, and went out for a ride.

Sylvan Island was just as I remember it. It was flat, technical, tight, twisty, and rough, It was great, but might not have been the best choice for this year’s single track debut. Oh, well. I’m sure every one else is in the same boat.

After pre-riding a lap with Nick, I circled back and did another ½ lap with Cory and Bruce Reese. On the ride back to the truck I ran into Bruce Brown (mind if we call you 'Bruce' to keep it clear?). We talked about the benefits of riding a full suspension on this rough course. He should get tough guy points for riding a rigid out there!

My plan for the race was to go fast at the start and beat the logjam going into the single track. I went to the start about ten minutes early with that plan in mind, only to find that ten minutes early gets you a fourth row start. Oh, well.

The whistle blew, the race started, and I proceeded to blow up. I put everything I had into the start, which ran most of the length of the island. I was somewhat cooked by the time we go the single track, but there was no bottleneck. Yes! I enter the single track with Bruce Reese, which surprised me. I usually don’t see him in a race. It was the last I would see him in this race.

At this point I figured I had my spot in the race, now I just needed to hold it for 4 ½ laps. Yeah, right. Let the fading begin. I entered the single track in about 26th, I finished with first lap in 33th, the second in 36rd, the third in 43rd, and finished the race in 44th. That’s some serious fading.

Part of the reason was starting faster that my fitness would allow. Not really a problem, because it all worked out in the end. The only other problem was that my seat bag came lose on lap three and stared to dangle. Fortunately it happened in a place where I could detach it and throw it in a jersey pocket without dismounting. Unfortunately that meant carrying my bloated seat bag (>2 lbs) in a jersey pocket for 2 ½ laps. That took a toll on my back. I should have dumped it in the feed zone, but it never occurred to me.

Enough excuses. Ride more, ride faster, and ride till it hurts. That will make you faster. Oh, and forget the stupid, heavy seat bag. Stop carrying enough stuff to overhaul the bike on the side of the trail. Carry a tube, a cartridge and nothing else. If you have a mechanical, so be it. If you don’t, you will be faster without it.
After the race we hung out and watched the experts race. Man those guys are fast. There is a reason they are called experts. I'll post some pictures eventually.

Next up for me . . . the Decorah Time Trial on April 29th.

Wednesday Group Ride

Based on my performance last weekend, apparently I still have some work to do to kick my sorry ass into shape. So . . . Bryan and I will be hosting another group road ride this Wednesday. He's the poop:

What: A two+ hour fast-paced road ride
Who: Bryan, me, and whoever else shows up.
Where: Bike World in Ames
When: 5:00 PM
Why: What don't kill you, makes you stronger
Details: Bryan will be out front, and look for me to be wheel sucking near the back.
Forecast: Partly cloudy, with a high near 59. Northeast wind between 9 and 13 mph. That's like suntan weather compared to what we've been through.

Sylvan Island

I don't have time for a full race report right now, but here is a short summary. I started fast to avoid the bottleneck at the single track. I found myself riding up with guys that I don't normally see during a race. Cool. But it didn't last very long. I proceeded to fade my way back to where I should be. Then I faded back back a few more spots. Hmm. Lesson learned? Be careful with your matches. Once you burn them, they are gone.

I will post a full report and some pictures later.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Veishea Mountain Bike Race

I write this from a hotel room in the quad Cities. I’m on my way to my first mountain bike race of the season! WooHoo! All that sucky winter riding is about to pay dividends, or so I hope.

Earlier I went to the Veishea mountain bike race to help out/hang out with the Team 14 guys and others that were racing. I really had regrets regarding not racing, but I’m old, and I recover slow. It would not be good to lay it all out at a race like Veishea, only to fall flat the next day at Sylvan. By the way, I didn’t talk to anyone that was racing on both days.

Chris Maharry won the race in convincing fashion, and Andrew Carney made a monster move late in the race to close the gap to the lead group and pass Jeff Burnett for second place. Nice work Carney. It was fun to watch. Was that your first Expert race?

Here are a few pictures from Veishea, and I've got a little better write-up of the race here. If you would like better quality versions of the pictures, let me know.

Up for me tomorrow is Sylvan Island. I feel good. My bike is working good. It’s all good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sylvan Island is On!

I guess this settles the little question of what to do on Sunday. It will be a slop fest, but it will be fun! I guess I need to start working on my mud technique. Plenty of opportunity to do that now. At least there isn't much climbing on what is an overgrown sandbar . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rest Day

Forget Kerkove, this is what a rest day should look like:

The fixie ride is off for tonight (at least for me), the group ride is off for tomorrow (Bryan and I have both cancelled based on the forecast), and the mountain bike races for the weekend are both in jeopardy because of another storm this weekend. If that happens I might just show up at Finchford for the Cat 5 race.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Enduance on a Calm Day

I was able to skip out of work early this afternoon with the idea of getting in a four hour endurance ride. The weather had finally calmed down, and winds weren’t blasting out of the northwest, so it was time. Since the conditions and the route were benign, I would again select the fixie. Sure, the miles of spinning would get to me, but they would be easy miles.

I headed east on 170th, but didn’t get far before smoke caught my eye.

With the calm day, the Story County parks crew was burning prairie. It was fun to watch from a distance:

It was more fun up close.

They tried to control it:

But it got away from them.

As fun as it was to watch the fire, I set out on my ride.

After a few miles I saw some evidence of another biker on 170th. Call me Sherlock, but this:

and this:

tells me someone else has been out here. If you recognize the blinky, let me know. I still have it.

My companions for today's ride . . . many, many dogs. They were all friendly:

By the way, 170th quits somewhere in Marshall county:

That is also where I also quit and turned for home.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dirty Hill Repeats

After sitting around on the couch for a while complaining about how windy it was outside on Saturday, I finally went outside to get the full effect. I had decided to do some hill repeats on the backside of McFarland. I figured that would be sheltered from the wind. On the way out, who should I run into but Andrew Carney. He was doing a four-hour endurance ride around Story County. We chatted for a bit, and went our separate ways. I tried to do hill repeats on the backside of McFarland, but it was just too mucky. So I went back to a gravel hill near my place that was sheltered from the wind. I was an OK workout, but nothing to write home about. I was left wanting more.

On Sunday morning I headed for the same McFarland trails as I had tried on Saturday. Now they were nicely frozen. I did hill repeats for an hour, stopped to pick up sticks for a while, and did some more hill repeats after that. It was a very good workout.

But I didn’t feel as if I had enough redemptive suffering to repent for my wind-fearing ways. After a 1000 calorie Easter dinner and a nap, I set out on a 2 hour gravel-grinder on the fixie in the evening. It was to be the best ride of the weekend. It had hills, flats, a little wind, and some cruising. Sweet.

For next week I’ve got the Veishea race on Saturday, and the Sylvan Island race on Sunday. I’m on the fence regarding Veishea race, but I’m definitely racing at Sylvan Island. Veishea is in my back yard, and I know the course like the back of my hand, but a win there means very little to me. If that effort detracts from my effort on Sunday, then it is not worth it as Sylvan Island is a “B” race for me. As I have said, Sylvan Island is on a course that suits me (flat and technical). My early season fitness will also serve me well. We shall see . . . Either way I will be at the Veishea race to support my teammates.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Frontal Area, or, Why I Suck in the Wind

I went on another road ride today with Cory and Alex. It was brutally windy, the temps were right at freezing. I wasn't too worried about the cold (I got my cold weather gear pretty well dialed in this winter). I was a little worried about the wind, because I struggle in the wind.

We headed north and west out of town with the idea that we would ride into the wind as long as we could stand it, and then turn for home. We were barely out of town when we got stopped by a train.
I didn't notice the sweet graffiti in this shot until I got home.
This is Alex's nice looking Campy equipped Bianchi:
Out in the wind I was able to keep pace as long as I could stay latched onto one of their wheels. That lasted until I fell back a little on a hill. Once I was out in the wind the gap between us widened. Since we were doing an out and back to E-18, I wasn't too worried. I figured I would catch them on the way back.
Once we turned with the wind, the whole mood of the ride changed. It stopped being a deathmarch, and we went back to having fun.
I've been thinking about how the wind gives me trouble. As we were riding home with the sun at our back, I had a revelation!
Compared to Cory and Alex, I have quite a bit more frontal are to push into the wind. Notice the size of the shadows? My shadow appears to be 25% bigger. It takes a few extra watts to push all of that frontal area into a 25-30 mph wind.
Unlike my weight, there is not much I can do about my frame size. There are a few tweaks I can make to get a better aero position, but they would only be tweaks. And it really doesn't mean much in mountain biking.
The bottom line is that knowing this doesn't make me faster, but it does help me to better understand my weaknesses.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wednesday Group Ride

OK, I bailed on tonight's fixie ride. Let's try again tomorrow.

What: A two hour fast-paced group road ride
Where: Bike World in Ames
When: 5:00 PM
Why: Umm, 'cause getting dropped by fast guys makes you faster?
Details: Bring your "A" game. I got dropped last week, but that ain't saying much.
Forecast: Partly cloudy, with a high near 41. Windy, with a north northwest wind between 18 and 23 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph.

OK, the forecast is less than ideal, but I need to do a fast-paced ride, windy or not. I've ridden in worse conditions.

Let me know if you are coming.

Never Mind

Earlier I said I was going to join up with the fixie ride this evening, but it's just too stinkin' windy (again). I talked to BJ at the shop and here are the details (in case you are less wimpy than me):

What: Fixie or Single speed fun ride
Where: Bike World in Ames
When: 7:30
Why: Why not
Details: No spandrex. There may be tavern stops on the ride and you don't want to get beat up by the other kind of biker.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Blackout into the Wind

Regular readers will have noticed my lack of posting lately. I've got an excuse. After 35 years, Christy (my wife) retired from her day job. We had several days of festivities to celebrate her achievement. It was fun, but it left me exhausted. I had planned on going to the state fair crit on Sunday. When Sunday came, we were just too drained from the other activities to do anything productive.

Congrats to Bryan for winning the cat 4/5 race on Sunday. This comes after burning out on a breakout on Saturday. Oh, to be young again. A hard effort has me feeling it for days.

For the week I did a set of blackout intervals into the wind tonight, I'm planning on a fixie ride tomorrow (details with be forthcoming, and taverns will be a part of the fun), a group road ride on Wednesday (5:00) from Bike world, and 4 hours of endurance riding for each of the next four days (Friday through Monday). These will be some big hours for me, but I need it. If you want to take part in this sufferage, let me know.

The first IMBCS race is in two weeks, and it is a course that suits me (flat and technical). We'll see how it goes. Last year I laid back (it was my first IMBCS race) and I was sorry later. I'll be going flat-out this year.