Thursday, May 31, 2007

Working for the Weekend

I went out out tonight and did a little shakedown cruise on each of the two bikes that I'm taking this weekend. I'm taking the Salas Dos Niner as a geared bike in the unlikely event that we get dry conditions, and taking the the single speed Rig as my mud bike. I've decided that taking a geared bike for mud is a very effective money disposal system. I think I have them both in good shape and prepared for whatever comes.

The forecast for Omaha/Council Bluffs is not looking real promising, with a chance of heavy rain on Friday and showers on Friday night. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the place dried out last year after a good rainstorm, so maybe there is a chance. That Loess soil is different that anything else you will ride in. It is almost the texture of talcum powder. Being on a hillside, the place also drains really well.

In other news, when I was out on my shakedown on the Niner I was feeling pretty good. After a few warm-runs, I timed myself up the river hill. 55 seconds! My previous best had been 1:02. Last year my best time for 1:20. I still suck at climbing, but any improvement is good. I'll need it this weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Noah, I Want You to Build an Ark"

Sorry, the title is a very old reference to a Bill Cosby bit from back when he still did stand-up comedy. Holy crap, this is a big, slow moving storm.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. It looks like we are on the backside of this now.

Hopefully the singletrack in Council Bluffs will be dried out by Saturday in time for IMBCS #4! I'm ready! The Dos Niner is ready! Are you ready for Mount Never-Rest?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blogger Addiction

Do you have a Blogger Addiction? Lets find out:

Have you had problems at work or school (lateness, missed time, errors, etc.) due to your time spent blogging?
Ummm, no. Not really what I'd call a problem.

Is your Blogging making your home life unhappy?
Well, OK. It's come up a few times.

Do you Blog in order to help you feel more comfortable around people?
Whatever. I'm never really comfortable around people.

Have you spent money on Blogging that was supposed to be spent on other things, like children's clothes?
Rent? Money owed to others?
Blogging is like free, man.

Have you been spending time with undesirable people because of Blogging?
I've got one word for you . . . Donny.

Has your Blogging led you to take dangerous risks?
I read Chris Hansen's Blog. That's pretty risky behaviour.

Do you get cravings for Blogging?

Has your Blogging led you to do things you are ashamed of?
See this post.

Have you ever Blogged in the morning?
Most mornings.

Have you been involved in fights when Blogging?
Only a couple of times.

Do you ever Blog in order to escape worries?
What, me worry?

Is it hard for you to imagine living your life without your Blog?

Have you ever thought you should cut back on your Blogging?
Right after I cut back on breathing.

Has anyone ever criticized your Blogging?
All the f**king time. Everybody's a f**king critic.

Have you ever been arrested for a Blog-related incident?
Not yet. It's only a matter of time.

Have you ever had trouble remembering what happened as a result of Blogging?

Have you ever had a health problem because of your Blogging?
Other than being fat and sloppy?

Have you ever lied about your Blogging?
Never! Well, maybe. OK, once.


A friend's blog died today. Other Paul's blog (don't bother clicking, it's a dead link now) has gone to blogger heaven.

He gave us a clue that this day was coming about a week ago. And then last night, he let us know that it was just a matter of time.

My words to him last night were (as close as I remember - my comments are gone also): Everything has a season. Most things things in life have a start, a middle, and an end. Wise people know when it is time for something to end. Foolish people drag things out far too long.

I've only met Other Paul a few times. Even though we live fairly close to each other (4 miles), I don't think I would have ever met him if it were not for the Internet. And I certainly got to know him better through our blogs.

Godspeed, "Other Paul". We'll see you in the real world.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Five hour Day

I got five hours in the saddle today. It's been a long time since I've done that, and it was long past due.

The day started with my lovely wife Christy and I driving over to Don Williams Lake so she could pre-ride the Iowa Game triathlon course, and so she could go for her first ride clipped in with SPD pedals. She will be doing her first triathlon there in July.

Riding through the park:

Christy was on her road bike, and I took my Dos Niner with the slow rolling Maxis Ignitor tires. I hoped this would slow me down enough to give me a good workout. It did.

Nostril cam. Someone needs to step closer to the mirror when shaving.

I spent most of the time chasing her. This was one of the few times when I was out in front.

It was a gorgeous day. Christy even shed her jacket after a while.

Between tooling around the park and the road section, we spent about two hours on the bike. It was a perfect, perfect morning.

After that I went home, did some bike stuff, and took a nap because I had promised Greg Moore that I would meet him somewhere in Boone County for a nighttime gravel ride.

At about 6:45 I set out for our meeting point.

There is still a lot of standing water in Boone and Story counties. Even the geese are confused about field/pond.

Here I am at out meeting spot. The sun is setting in the distance. It is a picture perfect night. If Iowa were like this every day, Iowa would have a population problem. Sadly, there is no population prolem at 180th and "R" ave. I'm the only one here.

So I tooled around for 20 minutes, just in case.

There is an old school near here. Cole School operated from 1880-1930. It has seen better days.

At this point I gave up on Greg, and headed for home. After about 1 1/2 miles, here comes Greg behind me like a man on a mission. Go figure.

We rode together to the north and east. After a while it got dark. I stopped to check in at home, and Greg rigged his lights.

We had a local that wanted to help Greg:

We rode on for a while longer, and at 9:30 we eventually found ourselves in Gilbert. I offered Greg a cold beer at my place, he wisely declined, and we each turned toward home. My saddle time for this leg was three hours.

Thanks to both Christy and Greg for getting me out on a bike on such a perfect day. It was a very good day on the bike.

Broadcast to Greg Moore

I plan on being at the intersection of 180th and Q at around 8:00 tonight. If that works for you, great. If not, we'll see you another time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nighttime Gravel

Greg Moore and I are planning a night time gravel ride on Sunday. Detailswill be forthcoming. I'll plan on leaving from the Ada Hayden north parking lot at 7ish or so. Let me know if yoiu are interested. As Greg puts it, "Not a hammerfest, just to crunch some gravel and stop for a beer or two at the turn."

That sounds like my kind of ride. Not to mention it is good training for the Boone 24.

BTW, the Boone 24 got a mention on Kerkove's blog today. I hope I didn't start any rumours with my reply to Cornbread.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Skipping the Niner

After roaching the Dos Niner in it's first outing at Waverly, it has picked up an annoying drive train skip. I ignored it at first, and raced the single speed Rig at Sockum, hoping the skip would disappear if I ignored it. No luck there. So this week I set about the task of finding and fixing the skip. I used my Dad's time honored technique; replace the cheap stuff first.

Actually I didn't have to replace much. I started with cables and housings. After Waverly they were due for replacement anyway. It still skipped like a young girl on a spring day. Next I replaced the chain. It still skipped like a senior during seventh period. Next I tried replacing the rear derailleur with a spare I had laying around. It still skipped like a flat rock on a still lake. Next I swapped out the crankset with one from another bike. It still skipping like a scratched 45 (young guys ask the old guys). Finally I swapped out the cassette from another bike (the donor bike was looking pretty sad by now). Sweet. No skips at all. It's like the the vice-principal was patrolling the hallways again and nobody skips.

I rode it to work and back today, and had no issues. By the way, riding to work is way cool. Do it if you can. Even if it's just once in a while.

Tonight I put all of the inoffensive parts back on the bike and . . .it still doesn’t skip! WooHoo!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Seven Oaks Work Day

There was a trail work day at Seven Oaks in Boone this morning. Kyle Sedore, Kyle Robinson, Troy Tellinghusen, Cory Hentiz, Jubil Young, and a few other names that I didn't know were there. It was a good sized group, with about nine guys ready to work. I've done trail work by myself, and it is better this way.

The first order of business was to cut a new trail that would join two sections on the front side of the ski hill, and orphan the trail that runs across the top of ski hill. Between motocross and the ski season, that trail takes a beating, and needs work every year. By cutting it out, we eliminate the maintenance each year.

This is the neew section:

Mmmm, new single track.

Troy passes judgement.

Then on to the bridges, which also took a beating in the spring rains.

We reset them both, and tried to raise them up, to help reduce the possibility of another outage.

This is the new climb after the second bridge.

Looks like a chain gang.

Finally, we we survey the landslide that we didn't have time to fix today. Uggh.

In other news, teammate Thad Neil placed second in the Cat 4 Gilbert Road Race today. Congrats Thad! After the Boone MTB race was cancelled for today, I was going to race in Gilbert instead. It's in my back yard, and is put on by the local CICC team that I train with some. Then Kyle announed a work day at Seven Oaks for today, and I really felt an obligation to give some back there. I ride there all the time, and owed the place a few hours. Oh, well. Next year.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Boone Work Day/Peterson's Work Day

Kyle Sedore is organizing a work day at Seven Oaks in Boone this Sunday at 9 AM. Details are here.

Cory Heintz is organizing a work day at Peterson's Park in Ames at a date to be determined soon.

Both places need a lot of work as they were hit hard by the double whammy of ice storms this spring, followed by heavy rains and flooding. If you ride these trails, try to make time to come out and help at either of these work days. These trails don't maintain themselves, and horses are no good at running chain saws and string trimmers.

I'll be there.

4 of 4

Today made the 4th day in a row that I have ridden my bike back and forth to work. In the mornings I've seen pheasants, wild turkey, deer, and a fox with a bird in it's mouth. The deer jumped out in front of me just after I put my camera away. The fox was also a little camera shy. He stared me down until I grabbed my camera, then he'd scamper just out of site. Rinse and repeat.

I can't do the ride to work thing tomorrow, because I've got other stuff going on after work. But it has been good to prove it to myself that is can be done. It is also a good to get two-a-day workouts four days in a row. It's almost like the spring training camps again. I've got eight hours of riding in for the week, and have all weekend left. And the gas guage in my truck has not moved since Sunday. But my grocery bill is a little higher than normal. I seem to be hungry all the time!

I'll be doing it again, and I won't wait until next year's "bike to work" week to do it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Two of Two

No, the title isn't my latest finishing position (I dream of a 2nd place finish, but seem relegated to n of nth place finishes - I'm OK with that). The title is a reference to my second day of bicycle commuting to work. I realize that some of you commute every day of the month, and every month of the year. Given my residential situation (nine miles northeast of my work, half of that gravel), I've never done the bicycle commute. Now I'm 2 for 2.

Today was perfect. Just as I arrived at work this morning, it started raining, and as I left work tonight, the sun broke through the clouds. Perfect!

My initial impressions:

The upside -
  • Arriving at work all energized.
  • Getting in two rides in one day.
  • Wind generally less in the morning.
  • Traffic generally less in the morning.
  • No gas required for the commute.
  • Two hours of riding in by 5:30 pm. That's unheard of for me on a week day unless I take some vacation time.
The downside -
  • Safe storage of bike at work. So far I've been leaving it in the hallway outside my office, and no one has complained.
  • Changing out of sweaty chamois at work. So far no problem. I've got a place to change.
  • Carrying work clothes (dockers/golf shirt) in a messenger bag. I've learned to leave my shoes/belt at work.
  • It take about 55 minutes each way. It takes 20 minutes to drive. Not that big a deal when you consider that I've got my riding hours in for that day when I get home from work.
  • Have to get up about 1/2 hour earlier. I've also been going to bed earlier, which is a good thing.

The jury is still out as to whether I will keep this up after this week. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bike to Work Week

I going to try to ride my fixie to work this week. It will take me about 45 minutes each way and about half of that will be gravel, but any bike riding is good bike riding. I might even try to get some single track riding in on the way home.

Sockum Ridge

With my episode of back pain last week, I was surprised that I was anywhere near able to ride a bike this weekend. But surprised I was.

The Salsa was still in worse shape than I was. Sure it hadn't been pushed around in a wheelchair, x-rayed, and pumped full of muscle relaxants, but it had taken a beating. I spent most of Saturday replacing brake pads and the chain, and giving it some TLC. It's still got some shifting issues, but it is doing better. But I still didn't have a bike to race today.

Christy and I drove down to Sockum Ridge with Jubil Young, a youngster from Ames. He is one fast cat. He was also riding single speed today. I hope he sticks around central Iowa for a while. This kid will win some races.

With my race bike out of commision, I decided to race my single speed Rig. I've not raced a single speed before, but I've done a bunch of single speed riding. How much different could racing single speed be?

The answer is, "Huge". It hurt, it sucked, and I got through it. What don't kill you, makes you stronger.

The race did not go the best for me. I was 6th of 6 in the single speed category. For my efforts I got a new saddle and got to hang out with good friends drinking good beer and eating great food on a great day. Not a bad deal. Andy puts on a great race!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ouch - An Update

Just got back from a hour on my single speed riding moderately hard on the local dirt. It felt great! Funny how I went from basically incapacitated on Monday to just very mild stiffness on Thursday. An amazing recovery if I say so myself. Its been ten years since I've had any serious back trouble. Back then it would take "old Paul" two weeks to recover from an episode like this. I'd like to attribute my quick recovery to being in a lot better shape than I was ten years ago.

While out on my ride tonight, I felt so good that I decided to give it a go on Sunday at Sockum Ridge. But on what bike? After last weekend, the Niner needs new brake pads, a new chain, and pretty much needs a complete going over. No time for that before Sunday. I've stolen enough parts from the Fuel that that would take some work to put it back together. I promised the 8500 to Keaton. They say sometimes the solution to your problem is right in front of you. In my case to solution was right beneath me. I'll be riding single speed this weekend.

See you on Sunday.


My back was pretty sore for a few days after Ingawanis. Sore to the point that I missed a couple of days of work, couldn't get out of bed or out of a chair with agonizing pain, and ending up with Christy wheeling me around the clinic in a wheelchair to see a doctor and get x-rays.

But not too worry. The doc gave me a bottle of happy pills, and my dad loaned me his TENS Unit, and now I'm feeling pretty darn good. I'm goona go ride my bike now and see how it feels. I'll let you know.

Depending on how my back feels, I may not race this weekend at Sockum Ridge. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Camp Ingawanis

I'll keep this short because my back hurts like hell, and I'm self medicating right now. Camp Ingawanis was a muddy event. It rained in torrents of biblical proportions up to, and during the event. The race went on as scheduled.

As I said previously, I was camping with my son's boy scout troop at Backbone on Friday and Saturday night, so that's two night on the ground for this 47 year old body. Since we were packing for the whole weekend, I only took my Dos Niner, and left the 8500 mudder at home. The forecast called for clear conditions, so that didn't seem like a problem.

I got to the race with only a slightly sore back. That would soon change. I got kitted up, and BS'd with the unual suspects. Christy had called me on the way there to let me know about the deluge that was on the way. Things looked good when I got there. That would also change.

By the time the the Sport/Expert race had started, the skys had opened up and rain was running down the trails. Sport class started with me in the back, and I was suprised to pass some people on the gravel climb that starts the race. By the time we got to the top I could see Thad entering the single track on his cross bike. Then I bobbled on the singletrack. I must have pulled something when I did that, because the next time I got off the bike, it hurt!

During the race I wrestled with the mud, back pain, chain skip, and (later in the race) no brakes. It sucked, but I got through it.

As I was finishing my first lap (at about 1:30), I was going to quit. I can deal with the back pain, mud, and chain skip, but the lack of brakes was enough for me. As I approached the the finish line, Jeff Kerkove took this pic:

I stopped to chat with Jeff for a minute. While I was doing that Cam went by and told Jeff that the course was no longer ridable (was it ever?). Jeff told him to take it it to Carl. By the time I got to the finish line, the race had been called. Others that were just before me in the sport class went out for another 1 1/2 hour lap. Thanks to Jeff for being there, otherwise I might still be out there.

Lessons learned:

  1. Always take a mud bike/tires, even it the weather looks good.

  2. Take more clothes that you think you will need (I needed them all today).

  3. Don't send a 47 year old body on a 2 night camping trip without expecting some trouble afterwards.

So much for keeping it short. My back still hurts like hell. See you next weekend at Sockum Ridge.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Salsa Dos Niner

As I said last night, I got a new bike! It's not new, just new to me. It's a Salsa Dos Niner.

I had been thinking about getting a big-wheeled, geared bike with full XTR. The Dos Niner was one of the top contendors. Out of the blue, Lou Waugaman happened to post on his blog that he was getting married, and was doing a little garage cleaning in preparation for the event. I jumped all over his Dos Niner, as it was just what I was looking for.

It's got XTR everywhere:

I went down to Lou's on Wednesday to check it out, and we went on a nice, friendly ride and had a great chat. We rode over to the science center where we rode on the trails that weren't under water, and hooked up with the Wednesday Night Taco Ride guys, including Taylor and Kyle. We chatted about postponing the May Seven Oaks race, and I offered to help them with trail clean-up. After that Lou and I rode back to his place. I then took my new bike home and tried to tweak the set-up a little so that it could be race worthy by Sunday.

For this weekend, I'm going on a boy scout campout on Friday and Saturday nights at Backbone state park, and then on to Waverly on Sunday where I'm going to race the Dos Niner. Although I'm not sure that sleeping on the ground for two nights is a recipe for success on Sunday. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fixing the Poor Results

I've been less than satisfied with the results from my first couple of races this year. I don't know whether it is a lack of intensity in my early training, too manyy rest days, or I'm just plain slow. For what it is worth, I'm OK with any of those answers.

The good news is that I've got a plan to fix all of my woes. It is a plan that has genius written all over it. It is a plan that screams "Seven Tour championships". What is that plan, you ask?

I bought a new bike.

There is nothing like a new bike to re-energize your training and motivation. I know, now I've got eight bikes, seven of which I ride on a regular basis. Oh well. Maybe it is time for my son to inherit my hard tail.

Details and pictures will be forthcoming. Here are a couple of hints. Think spicy, and think big wheels.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Have you missed me?

I'd like to start with an apology for the lack on content lately. I've been busy, and something had to give. The blog took the brunt of it again. So, I'm going to play catch-up. Here goes:
I did a little morel hunting on a bike ride last weekend and found these beauties (plus some others):

My morel pictures taking skills need work.
My lovely wife Christy finally came out with me for a little gravel grinding action. She's training for her first triathlon, so I think she'll be spending more time on the bike.
We had fun. I hope I can convince her to do it again.

I did my first criterium on Sunday in Iowa City at the Old Capital Crit. What a hoot. It was short - an all out effort for about 20 minutes. There is no pacing involved. If you try to pace yourself, you get dropped. I know, because I did. Afterwards we had lunch on the patio at the Atlas World Grill (title sponsors of the Atlas cycling team - now I know where the name comes from). While we had lunch we watched the women's race. It's cool to have cycling in a city venue like this. Parking is a little bit of a hassle. Oh, well. It's also cool because you get non-cycling people out to watch a race. That's nearly unheard of in Iowa.
Here are a few pictures I snapped at the race.
Sean Myers in the 40+ race:
Thad Neil on the hill in the Cat. 4 race:
Another one of Thad:
Josh Madsen in the Cat 3 race:
The rest of the pictures are here. Let me know if you want full-size versions.