Monday, June 20, 2011


Last Wednesday Ali, her mom, Jappers, and I loaded up and headed into downtown STP to watch the Nature Valley Crit. We got there in time to see the last 5 laps of the womens race, and while it appeared a bit slower (I acknowledge that most of these women could probably drop me at will), it was much more exciting than the Mens race. Which consisted of United Healthcare riding tempo 8 deep at the front of the race for 40 laps. Good thing we brought beer, sourdough pizza, and a small child to entertain us.

I think thats J-Pows tring to get up the road with a break that never got more than 20 seconds.
On the upside I did get to catch up with fellow Man-hatian Dustin Nelson, who is at UMN working on his MS in Public Health.

Me explaining Crit racing to Dustin (I have no business talking about road racing)
Then on Thursday I headed over to River Falls, WI for the weekly Thursday night race. Its pretty low key. Pay $5 (if you are a KORC member), line up, and chase Chad Sova (and never catch) for 3 laps. I had a better race this round than the first time I showed up. I knew it was going to be kind of slick for the first few laps so I jumped early and managed to break away from the chasers, but still watch the leaders ride away. Once I hit the Upper part of the course I began to realize just how slick things were. This was compounded that I was on worn-out Maxxis Crossmarks, which are not a great mud tire to start with.
Let the drifting commence.
At the end of the first lap, I was in 4th, with a decent gap on 5th, but after a couple of "coming to Jesus" moments I was about ready to pullout, and probably would have, but I carried to much speed through the transition zone, and inadvertantly started another lap. Oh well.
Managed to hold on to 4th for the next 2 laps, so I was pleased with that, but it was definitely a harrowing race.

Saturday, Butchy and I rode in the rain for a few hours around town.

Conversational pace. Saw all the sights.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 Woolly MTB Race

This Morning we headed up north to beautiful Saint Croix Falls, WI for the Annual Woolly race. Very grass roots, no licenses, no timing chips, just line up and get prepare to get cross eyed.
I wills ay that I am way to nice when it comes to pushing toward the front when getting lined up in the chutes. when I got to the line, there were already 50 people in the chute. I ended up slipping up about 4 rows to get past the ladies, but I was still not where I needed to be. The race started out around a soccer complex to string things out. I got a pretty crappy start, and was not toward the front once we hit the singletrack. I was like 20th and the pace was conversational in the singletrack. Which was super tight so trying to pass would have been lame and in poor taste.

Had to dismount a few times as there were bobbles up ahead that stopped the lunch line.
It was here that I started to formulate my plan. I had ridden with a few of the folks ahead of me so I knew that I could put some serious time into them in the single track on the 2nd half of the course. The leaders were well out of sight. After biding my time, once we popped out of the woods, the guys at the front were not accelerating, and looked around like they were lost. They looked like they needed leadership.

I went right to the big ring and passed like 10 people on the grass, and did my very best to motor away (leadership is overrated). And it looked like I had a good gap until I went down someones driveway that paralleled the paved path we were supposed to use. Piss. Managed to sneak back over but the gap was gone. Hit the open meadow trails, with a Culvers racer on my wheel. These meadow sections just slayed me all day. They appeared open and fast, but were just so bumpy that it was all but impossible to lay down any power while you were seated.
Once I hit the singletrack I was able to put some time between me and the chasers. The Woolly boys opened up some new terrain since last weekend, and it really kept me on my toes. I actually ended up running a few of the new tech sections that I normally would have ridden, but was a little too cross eyed from chasing. The best way to burn in new trail is to have a race on it, so it should be pretty buffed out after all the traffic it got.
Little by little I got away from the Culvers rider (I love their frozen custard!), but there was no one in sight ahead of me, so I just motored on. The last 2 miles of each lap was either grass double track or rail trail. It just screamed to be ridden in 44:12. It was here that I first saw a pair of riders that had at least a quarter mile on me. It took me another lap of chasing to catch the rider in the Specialized kit JB Hancock. The other racer was no where in sight, so I motioned for him to jump on. I pulled for the next 2 miles of open, and then he came around right before the start finish line starting our last lap.

I got a little big for my britches at the end of that second lap/long pull, and I could feel my legs getting crampy. I wanted to try and get away, but I did not think that I could sustain a break that far from the finish. So we traded pulls and conversation for most of the last lap.
Just before we hit the wide open double track to the finish line I offered to pull to the finish line. Now this is not a deal that normally gets struck, but my reasoning was that I had not seen any big power moves out of him all day so at least if he tried to jump towards the end I would have a little bit of a buffer. My sprinting sucks, and most of the time if I get ahead its not because of a huge spurt in speed. I don't sprint, I surge.
We kept it gentlemanly until we hit the asphalt, then it was all out. I actually over shifted about 30 yards from the line, and Bryan just about nipped me at the line. But I was able to get on top of the gear enough to squeak ahead for an 8th place finish.

Super fun course, not too much gnar, was a good race for beginners. You should be there next year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

playing in the dirt

I found myself at the bottom of a large hole last week. We (I) have been installing Gee passive capillary wick Lysimeters that are manufactured by Decagon Devices. We are using them to try and close the water balance and provide a drainage rate so that we can calculate nitrate leaching from fertilizer use in different cropping systems. Earlier this year we installed hundreds of suction tube lysimeters, that will provide us with nitrate concentration of water that is moving into the Vadose zone. Nitrate in ground water is a pollutant that is of particular concern in many parts of the midwest and plains states.

The Gee lysimeters (commercially known as a "Drain Gauge") use a wick in a hanging column(what is in the small hole above) to provide "suction" to the soil that will (soon) fill the Divergence Control Tube (DCT, the very large PVC pipe seen above).

I personally think soil scientists are kind of nerdy, but it is pretty interesting looking at the pedology of soils in the upper midwest. People just cannot fathom the effects that glaciers had on the formation of soils.

There was a layer of "cobbles" about 38 inches down that were so smooth. It just gives you an appreciation for how things change over time.

Once I got past the cobbles I hit this really coarse sandy pea gravel that had no structure. I had dug a hole for the column of the drain gauge to go in, but when I climbed out of the hole to grab the gauge, the blickety-blank sidewalls of my hole collapsed, burying my post hole digger. Piss.

So built myself a little platform to work on.

Gauge installed and sod replaced. It takes about 9 man hours to install a drain gauge with a disturbed monolith. I had initially planned to do a undisturbed monolith, but the soil was too course, and I could not keep it in the DCT. Plus it weighed a ton. I would have never got it out of the pit by myself.

So after 2 days of digging pits by hand I headed back to WI to do the first Whitetail Ridge Thursday night race of the year. I had never been there, so I knew that it was going to be a lot of learning. The KORC crew that puts the event on is super laid back, and the trails are pretty sweet. Like a cross between Lebanon Hills in MN and Platte River SP in NE. I stopped to assist a guy that took a digger and dislocated his shoulder on the first lap. I asked him if he wanted me to reset it, but he seemed to want to go to a doctor. It would have hurt, but not nearly as much as if he had walked out and had the doc reset it once all his adrenaline had worn off. I would not have even charged him. Jumped back on the bike and chased, namely because I did not know the course. I caught a rider and he let me sit on for the rest of the lap, and showed me where the course changed after a lap. After that I came around and chased for the next 10 miles. Never saw anybody. It definitely took a lap to get comfortable on the Scale. I have spent so much time on the SS that the first lap felt twitchy and awkward, but the next two found me really getting into the groove.

Then Ali and I went out to dinner on Sat while LaLa watched the lil monster. I wore my white pants. Lookout!

Woolly Race in St Croix Falls this weekend. I prerode the course with the Cyclova-XC guys on Saturday. Looks like a lot of fun lined up for this weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Return to me

Should you ever be tempted to filch thy neighbors whip, you should be advised that stealing expensive bikes will get you a felony should you get caught. Apparently there is a cutoff from when stealing cheap bikes to boosting 1000+ dollar bikes, and once you hit it it goes from misdemeanor to felony like that.
That being said, I got a call from the fuzz putting me wise to the fact that they had found my bike. Bollocks, says I.
Nay, says the fuzz.
Me:Bully good.
Fuzz: Be by in a bit.
Arrive at the the SPPD. Bike is all in one piece. no dents no dings.

What did I learn from this?
If its not U-Locked, its not locked up