Sunday, July 31, 2011

24 hours of Wausau 2011 Part One

A couple of months ago, Rafal said that he was gonna do the 12 hour race at the 9 Mile Forest in Wausau, WI, so I agreed to meet up with him and MK. I was also stoked to see the smarter, more eloquent, and better looking brother of Christopher Wolff, William was gonna be shucking and jiving for 12 hours also. Considering the abject lack of endurance riding that I have been doing this year, I stuck to the 6 hour race.
About 400 souls started the race via a lemans start. There is no more wonky sight than cyclists running.

Its like watching a monkey try to dribble a basketball.
Then once we started the first lap, it was a lot of waiting for everybody to walk through the rocky section at the one mile mark. I was running the Ferrous SS, and was loaded for bear, turning a 34:18. Rafal told me at dinner the night before that there was only 300 feet of climbing per lap. Rafal and will also joked about how people would be walking the one singletrack climb. I chuckled too but I ended up walking that every time.
Anyway as we got towards the end of the first lap we kind of found our rhythm's and started getting acquainted with the folks that we would be spending the day with. I got to ride with Jason Gaikowski, fellow former Kansan, recently of QBP, as the grand poo-bah of Marketing. We took turns throughout a couple of laps catching up on life. Jason and I rode together for about 70 miles in the 2008 Dirty Kanza.
At the end of the lap I eventually caught up with Rafal, and we rolled through our support station. I was taking 2 bottles of water (a 16oz and a 24oz) per lap, and that seemed to be enough for consumption and cooling.
After a couple of laps you sort of fall into a rhythm of steady state activity. My laps seemed to consist of staying fluid on the singletrack, staying on top of the gear on the gravel, and pushing my bike up the singletrack climb. I learned a long time ago that you can do a lot of work (and look cool) riding 3 mph up a climb, or you can just walk by your bike at at 3 mph. Somewhere on the 3rd lap, The Good Doctor Buffington made contact with me as I was pushing my bike, as did Danielle Musto. Both would proceed to ride what I was walking, but once we hit the gravel sections of the course, I would make up a little time, then they would catch me again as I pushed my bike up the one climb each lap. It was a vicious cycle.
We finally caught another SSer on the 4 th lap. It was around this time that I realized that there was some meteorological treachery afoot, and the sky was looking rather grim. As we finished the lap, they were saying that the storm was going to hit in about 30 minutes.

I figured I might as well get as far as I could on a dry course as opposed to waiting it out. I as I rolled back out I did not see any of the folks that I had been with, but they were all doing 12 or 24 hours. About half way through my 5th lap I saw a chain laying in the trail, so I put on the brakes as I went around a corner. Sure enough, there was Rafal, without a chain, looking bewildered. I alerted him to the fact that his chain was back down the trail, and gave him my extra 9 speed quick link. Made it past the climb as the wind started to pick up and the temp dropped. This storm looked to have all the makings of a real humdinger. A few miles later it started to pour. I got to about mile 9 of the 11 mile course before they told us that the laps had been suspended due to lightning, and that the lap we had just ridden (most of) would be cancelled (expletive).
It was at this point that I was:
  • Wet (soaked would better describe it)
  • Pissed
  • still in the woods in a lightning storm
As someone that has promoted events I usually hesitate to criticize the judgement of race directors, but as I stood in the woods, in the pouring rain, with lightning crashing around us, I was passing some pretty serious judgement on that decision. Someone showed up that knew how to get back to the start/finish line, so about a dozen of us went screaming down these flooded logging roads. We got back to the finish and were told that once the storm abated the race would resume. A big box truck was sent out to pick up other riders that were still out on the course. Once everyone got back and the storm dissipated, the 6 hour period of the race had elapsed. So my race was over. I got 5th in the Mens Solo class.
I am sure that the promoter had a great reason not allow us to finish the lap, but in my mind, a more reasonable approach would have been to allow people to finish their lap. Then communicate to them that the race would resume once the storm was over.

Ali and Jappers wait out the storm.

Rafal and his mustache were in full force for the race restart. William looking decidedly dapper in his kit.

The race restarts. The rest of the story tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chequamegon NF and the Rock Lake Trails in the Namekagon Trail Cluster

Weekend before last, Team Stamper and Team Johnson made the trip up to Cable, WI for some singletrack and sunshine with the wild pack of Dingos in tow.

This bat was a little too committed to chasing down the insects ( of which there is no shortage up there)

May the PCL be with you.

Dennis Grelks old Dragonfly. It simmers grits.

Butchy scouts the steep lines of Wall Street of the Rock Lake Trail.
If you live up north you really should make the time to ride here.
If you have a "Trail" or "all mountain" bike (and can ride it) this is the trail for you. There are only a few trails that I can really say that I wish I had a 4 or 5 inch bike to ride, and this is one of them (the only others that readily come to mind are Wilson Lake KS, Pisgah, and Little Casino to Big Casino Creek in Stanley, ID). I say this because most trails may have some tech sections, but few have enough sustained gnar to warrant full suspension or even a trail bike. I road it on the SS and had a ton of fun, but would have really dug having a 29er Anthem (hint hint)

But fear not, gentle bike wives! There are more tame options at hand too! Ali and katie were out for a 3 hour tour. Katie said she loved it, and said that it was the first time that she had fun on a Mtb.

She was probably just glad to get a break from wrestling kiddo's.

Loafing by the lake.

Nobody had any fun

Jappers got a Big P's gift pack.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

summer dump

Been pretty busy keepin it thug. Living Minnesota life.
Its kind of strange how time starts to get away from you, but man, does it ever.

Took the time to head up to ride the new trails up at Cayuna Lakes. 20-some miles of fresh singletrack, that is almost entirely made of mine tailings. Very much like the trails at Warrior Creek or OVT at Kerr Scott Lake

Rode up with fellow Battle Creeker Drew Diller and Andy Wentzel. Drew was rolling his homemade bamboo fat bike. He runs it as a SS but with a Hammerschmidt 2 speed crank. Its pretty sick, but you don't get 50 feet before people are stopping us to ask questions about his bike.

Trails are pretty fast, and the surrounding area is definitely worth the drive.

Last weekend I drove Ali up to St. Croix Falls so that she could shred some singletrack with my coworker/GIS zenmaster Kim Kaiser. Me and Jappers went strolling about, poaching blackberries.

Then I did something that I normally would never do. I mounted up road rubber. Don't judge me. Last Month, as Butch and I were riding back from a especially soggy ride. There was a yard sale, that NO ONE had been to all day. So just for giggles we stopped. I ended up buying a pair of nearly new 25c Conti Gatorskins AND a new pair of 40c Schwalbe Marathon Duremo tires...... for a dollar.

Ali brought back country ham from the old country.

My new dough got out of control.

Jasper kills and eats his first avacado

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Disposable Drivetrains

This past week I had to replace the entire drivetrain on the Scale. I was a little pissed. I had been using the same 991 cross step chain for almost a year, and when I checked the wear with a chain checker it came up as being worn, not terribly worn, but due for replacement.
I had also had the bike torn down to isolate a squeak/creak that was related to the interface of my e-type front der. needing a little grease. While I had the cranks off I also took the time to repack the bearings if my Hive Bottom Bracket.
I started doing this after this past winter I was getting a knocking sound out of the drive side of my CX bike at jingle cross. When I got it home and took it apart I found that the bearings were dry. I learned a few things (I may dedicate a post to repacking the grease in external bearing bottom brackets), but a 1000 miles later the bb is still going strong.
Anyway, while I had everything apart I took the time to grease the heads of the chainring bolts, inspect the rings etc. Get it all put back together, new chain on, and take it on a pavement ride (in the big ring). squeak is gone, but the chain wants to skip between the 21 and 24 tooth cogs on the cassette when I am in the big ring, so I shift down to the middle and the skipping stops, spin around on the middle, then take it back to the big ring. Shrug my shoulders and write it off to fine tuning the cable tension to the rear der.
Then on Tues I meet Butch for our weekly Lebanon Hills man-ride (our wive get together and ride once a week). I shift down to the middle ring and start to really stand on it as we ride out of the parking lot.
BAM! chain slips, knee slams into stem. whimper and try not to cry.
Looks like its going to be a big ring session at Leb. So I spend the next hour and a half talking with Butch about drive train wear as I staggered and wobbled around Leb in either 44:18 or 44:28 due to the skipping between the 21 and 24 cogs. In some ways I was tempted to just put the old chain back on and ride that drivetrain into the ground.
Some people may have a little angel on on shoulder and a little little devil on the other assaulting their self conscious about right and wrong. I have a little dirt bag (aptly nicknamed "scumbag stumpy" by a guide I used to work with) that sits on one shoulder and Alison sitting on the other. They debate on whether or not I should poach closed trails, eat free lunch at union meetings that I do not belong too, and generally debate the nature of my everyday existence. My mind is a scary place.

So on the drive home I caved to prudence, and stopped at Penn Cycles to get a new 32 tooth middle ring and a 11-32 cassette. Wasn't the caliber of stuff that I would usually buy, but I was not about to throw down 11o bucks on a 990 cassette to save 150 grams. I hate paying retail, but Penn was pretty reasonable.

I guess that I am now trying to figure out how much life I should expect out of a chain? I didn't think that I had a excessive amount of miles on the chain, but I also hypothesize that using solely dry, wax based lubricants on it my lead to premature wear. I like dry lubes (plus Scooby gave me a box of dry lube 2 two years ago after the Buffalo Mtn TT). I like how dry lubes keep things clean, but I am not sure if it lends itself to long chain lives. Chain wear is irrelevant when all my SS bikes have stainless cogs and rings. So I got some DuMonde lube, and am going to give that a whirl.