Thursday, December 6, 2012

The case for conservation.

PBS is currently streaming the 2 part Ken Burns documentary on the dustbowl. It a pretty good representation of what can go wrong when we disregard good agricultural practices for the sake of a few more dollars. Something that most people do not realize is that about half of the row crop farm land in the US is rented for cash. This means that the tenants do not have a vested interest in the land, and the land owners probably live in a city and do not have any connection to the land. Land rent has gotten so expensive that tenants feel the need to squeeze every last dollar they can out of an acre. I hear this argument all the time from people in the ag industry usually when someone is trying to justify a poor agricultural practice.
It drives me insane.
The most direct (but not necessarily effective) solutions involve regulation of nonpoint source pollution, but this approach will just mean that food will become more expensive and the environmental impact marginal.  Regulations are a good fit for point sources of pollution, but have historically had a extremely low success rate with non-point sources of pollution like sediment, excess nutrients, and the off-site movement of crop protection products.
It is a very complex problem.  The one thing that I am sure of is that there are a ton of ignorant people touting simple solutions to complex problems.  I happen to believe that education (perhaps mandatory?) will improve our quality of life in rural areas and for those that live downstream, but its a shame that it takes disasters like the dust bowl to draw attention to problems.

Blacking out

Parenthood is a potent drug. I did not know what it was like to blackout until last night.  I remember talking to my parents last night on skype, but have no idea when or how i got to bed.

My wife took this picture sometime after I slumped least she did not give me a permanent marker mustache.

I have also been on the trai1of how to use cranberries in recipes since I can buy them for about 50 cents/lb.  So I edited this recipe from Taste of Home.


  • 3 cups 4 large chopped peeled tart apples
  • 2 cups 12oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 and 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  • Combine apples, cranberries, sugar and flour. Pour into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. In a bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until fruit is tender. Yield: 6-8 servings.
Add Vanilla ice cream. You are welcome. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grinch Smacked

Butt Crack dollar bill snatching is more dangerous than I initially thought. The fact that this is at Jingle Cross only adds to the story. I think that this is Andrew Coe from KC.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Since I have been laid up

Jasper has been tuning my suspension

Big Al got Mums, so you know that it is fall

My knee hurts just looking at this

all kinds of radness going on here
 In a attempt to not get fat whilst not able to do a lot of physical activity I have been eating lots vegetables.  I got the 40oz to use as braising liquid for the cabbage (with some brats, caraway seeds, and dijon mustard).

We went to Iowa to visit the Kochs, and so Jasper could wear his pimp Hawkeye getup
 This past week was the Woolly Race in St. Croix Falls, WI.  I went up to volunteer and to spend some time in the woods shouting at people (its way more fun than you would imagine).
The only member of the Hollywood Army that took a Busch hand-up.

Barry had a good race.

Jay Richards even showed up

With his oh so pro carbon tubular mtb wheels
Jay and his family run Maplelag, a resort in western MN that has some really punchy, gnarly single track.  Its a pretty sweet location, and is worth visiting if you are going west on I94. I got to ride there in August while I was headed out to Fargo for a conference.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


My knee has been officially jacked up for 3 weeks.  It started right after our trip to KS to be in Tanner and Mina's wedding.  Patterson also delivered me my new bike, a carbon Cannondale Scalpel 29er, so I am hypothesizing that my knee issues arise from riding a ill fit bike, standing around in dress shoes, doing the stanky leg at the reception, and then kneeling for like a hour while I talked to people that were sitting at their table at the reception. 
The swelling has gone down, but there is still so much fluid in the joint that its painful to bend my knee past 95 degrees.  I had a MRI a week ago, but no one from the doctors office or the hospital has called me. The sucking sound from this healthcare provider is starting to become audible.If rafal brought me a bunch of his cherry infused moonshine I might just aspirate it myself.

So today I said screw it, and rode my new bike anyway. Now for some cold therapy.  It was so worth it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The North Woods Adventure

I am just now recovered enough to think about the 3 days that I spent with the thirty-some intrepid souls that traveled up the north shore of Lake Superior for just under 300 miles of gravel and Forest service roads.  This was something that I have wanted to do for several years, but lived too far from national forest to really be able to pull it off. First, I put on these events because I get joy from seeing others challenged and having fun.  I try to put together events that I would want to do.  I also put a lot of stock in making it feasible for people to do.  If you are not into bikepacking the concept of riding point to point is really foreign, but this type of venue lets participants get to know each other and hopefully create some lasting friendships.
Laying down the rules of the gravel road. Photo cred: deathrider

Lisa Keeps all the boys in line

It was about 50 degrees and rainy, and while everyone else was donning jackets, Eddie just pulled on his snowmobile gloves

Ted Loosen choking down what could be the worlds worst breakfast sandwich

The Ely police setup across the street from our bike house. Lots of shady Characters

Tara, our other lady, was all smiles even when things were awry

Lisa mocks the driving rain

The big pot of boiling water for hot chocolate at a the aid station was a huge hit

Frank Lundeen rides like Landgraf

Two very different people with a common interest, adventure.

Novak: Unhurried and In control

Drew drove the pace all weekend long and took the GC.  His worst stage finish was 2nd (due to my crappy directions)
I could go on, but I was really blown away by how positive everyone was. 
Drew posted his experience here, and Josh Peterson talks about his shenanigans. Charly Tri will probably post something soon too (about moose, tetherball, and axe body spray).
I will post a final review on the GC site this weekend. I am currently off the bike indefinitely until I get my knee issue resolved.  I had a MRI on Monday but the Doc still has not gotten back in touch with me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting about in the Gravel conspiracy

Ok I am really just posting this here because I feel like the Gravel Conspiracy blog is getting crowded (and I have not written any thing here for a month.....thats a new record for me)

Ok, I have learned quite a bit about navigation using GPS in the last few months.  I am not a expert but I will try to relay some useful info.
First, Garmin Edge units are expensive.  Garmin Etrex units are not. Unless you need the powertap or HRM functions of the Edge units, save yourself about 300 dollars and look at a etrex 20 unit. The eTrex 20 or 30 units also use AA batteries.  This is a huge advantage if you are going out for multiple days and do not have the capacity to recharge your Edge. They are not as slim and trim as a Edge 800 or 705, but serve the same function.
Namely they allow you to load a base map and to navigate preconceived routes.

  • You can use OSM on your iPhone GPS when there is no cell signal, however I would be too concerned about the battery life to solely rely on a iPhone to navigate the gravel conspiracy course.  There will be no cell service once we get away from the north shore.

  • Creating routes: I have found the most useful free program for creating routes to be Bike Route Toaster  All of the routes for the Gravel Conspiracy were created with BRT.  I also love that it allows you to create cue sheets.  Remember that routes created for Garmin Edge units should be saved as .tcx files, all other gps units will use .gpx files.  Once you have a .gpx or .tcx file that you want to load on your GPS, you plug your GPS into the computer.  Under "My Computer" Click on the name of your device and open a folder called "new files". Drag and drop your .tcx or .gpx files into the "new files" folder.  Thats it.  The next time you power up the device your route should appear on the GPS. Then you just follow the line.
A special thanks to Ted Loosen who took the time to walk me through some of the finer points of routing and navigating with a GPS. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stop motion Pro XC Nats

I was playing with my brothers high dollar camera and ended up doing this.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The early bird

I was making rice at 4am this morning, but so were probably 2 billion other people, living in Asia, so I am ok with that.  I whipped up some of Allen Lims rice cakes (bacon free for Butch) and met Butch so we could bust out some early morning miles south of the cities.

I also have been using Skratch labs SDM, and I really have to admit that I feel much more "fresh" at the end of the ride when I am not ingesting tons of calories with my liquids.  I also read the "Feedzone" Cookbook, and the approach that Lim takes is in no way revolutionary.  However, Lim has the "street cred" to make people believe that his ideas function and taste good.  I am in no way going to eschew gluten, but I had a long talk with a doctor (over expensive scotch) about non-imflamatory foods. Rice was at the top of her list for foods that fight inflammation.  Not saying that I understand the nutrition issues, but it gives me lots of things to think about.
PhotoCred: Butch

Anyway, we busted out about a 55 mile loop before 10:30.  It was super calm. so calm that if a car passed, the dust would hang over the road for like 3 minutes. If you stopped the mosquitos would quickly descend. Made for a quick tempo (maybe quicker than Butch liked).  It was a good morning.
I am really starting to dig this Garmin.  It makes planning my ride so much easier.  I have a Drawer that is literally filled with hundreds of google map print outs and tyvek race #'s with cues written on them in sharpie.  I may take them out back and burn them.  It has taken me some time to figure out all the little GPS navigation nuances, but I have been pleased.

Leaving for Idaho on Tuesday.  Going to see the Newest Stamper and hopefully catch up with professional and unprofessional cyclists at XC Nationals in Sun Valley.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Road training

Or not.  I actualy sat down a few weeks ago and wrote out a training plan.  I have a MTB race in July that I did not want to totally suck at, and I felt that having a defined training plan would help me stay on top of it.  I usually only have defined training for really long races or for (running) marathons, and that is usually just so I plot out my taper. 
Herein lies the problem.  I have no top end power, and do not train for top end power or speed.  I can ride tempo for hours, but sprinting? Not so much.  This usually leads to me cramping in races as I get out of my comfort zone early and my golgi receptors start pitching fit about 2 hours later.
Well, to combat this lack of top end training I have taken to the road, and to be real honest it has not sucked as back as I thought it would. 
I have had to go through a couple of of differnet groups to find one that I am comfortable with, and it never ceases to make me chuckle when I watch the dynamics of some of these groups.  One of the things that really bothered me though was the complete disregard that cyclists here in the Twin Cities have for stop signs, and traffic laws in general.  Don't get me wrong, I have been guilty of the ol' rolling stop every once in a while, but this is ridiculous.    
I got yelled at by one group (of old people.... that I had been pulling) when I did not just blow through a stop sign.  The ironic thing was that before the ride the group leader talked about how another group had gotten pulled over by a sheriffs deputy for running stop signs the week before.  I rolled my eyes and bailed on them the first chance I got.
This morning I did a shop ride out of the Omnium Bike shop.  The route was pretty tame, but they have a circuit set up at the furthest point on the route, so we had 3 different race simulations......and it was kind of fun.  There was only about a dozen of us so everybody was jumping at every move.  And it was Fast!
I don't have a ton of road experience to compare it to, but there were several times that 46:11 was just not enough to hang on. Road races in KS were just not that exciting (hey lets ride in a big, flat square for 30 miles!).   I can now see why folks might like road racing.  I still think that it's lame, but less than I did before.
Finally sold the Scale on ebay.  Pretty stoked that I was able to ride that bike for 2 years essentially for free.
Maybe I will purge some other stuff to help fund my next bike.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dirt Fest 2012 part 2

Rolling the road section back to our campground

Adam Lipinski was slangin pies all evening from his homemade camp pizza oven.  He was turnin out a thin crust every 5 minutes with this oven that was at about 700 degrees F.  Faces got rocked.

Taylor Patterson rocks out the generator powered pinball machine.  The brake levers operated the flippers.

JPatt, Alex and I cruising back from Rays to Lake.

Cliff Jumping on the cruise

Matt and Mary (center) took us on a tour of the trails on the other side of the lake

Then I saw this spectacle of east coast ingenuity.  Single Speed and Full suspension.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dirst Fest Part 1

This past week I traveled to Pennsylvania for DirtRag Magazines Annual Mountain Bike Festival Dirt Fest.  I have been trying to capitalize on the fact that I can fly Southwest Airlines pretty cheap, and I have been wanting to demo more bikes in more dynamic terrain than what is usually afforded at demo days in MN.  The week before last, the Angry catfish had a demo day at Carver Lake.  While this was a great chance to try out a bike, its hardly the place to put a 4 inch FS bike through the paces.  The trails at Rays Town lake in PA offer the perfect mix of terrain, and there were no less than 10 different demo trucks, so there were tons of opportunities to ride a lot of different bikes and evaluate what was right for you.

Patterson concedes the position of Capt to Matt, instead relishing his role as Rear Admiral.
We arrived at Rays Town lake on Thursday night for the exhibitors cruise around the lake.  I ended up hanging with the guys from Swiftwick, talking about life back in the old country.  

TPatt and Graham counting cans
 I also got to chill with Graham Daniels of Cannondale over many Dales Pale Ales.  I explained that I had never really considered a Cannondale since I was not really familiar with the Lefty.  He offered to pull one apart for me the next morning before the expo opened, just to show me how simple they actually were.
The next morning feeling kind of bleary, I stumbled over to the expo area for my Lefty lesson.  It literally took less that 90 seconds to disassemble the fork for damper service.  Graham showed me that all you really need is the special tool to remove and replace the Cartridge Damper, which is recommended at least once a year.  The next thing I knew, I was on the Scalpel 29 headed up the hill with the Swiftwick guys for some early morning shred session.  We were immediately blown away by how nice the trails were.  The Allegripis trails at Rays Town Lake are not overly rocky, but require diligence since they allow you to carry so much speed into corners and rollers.  I was immensely impressed with how well the Scalpel performed, and how precise the steering was with the Lefty.  Matt, from Swiftwick, was on a rigid bike, but was still just absolutely thrashing it given the fact that he is pretty new to mountain biking. Ended up getting in over 35 miles of single track that first day, and ended the day at Harlan Price's Cornering skills clinic.  Harlan did a really great job walking everyone through the principles of trail riding.  He covered body position, line of sight, plus weighting and unweighting the pedals.  There really was something for everyone.  My only disappointment was that we did not have enough time for some actual trail time.

Harlan Price advises riders during a skills drill.

4 people and 3 tents

No shortage of good reading material in the ol' blue box

On Saturday, I got to use some of the basic skills that Harlan instilled in us, as I got to ride with a brand new mountain biker.  One of Pattersons college roommates, Alex, from VA came up for Dirtfest.  We put him on the Niner Jet RDO.  We practiced clipping in and clipping out a few times, talked about being in the "neutral" and "ready" positions for turns and obstacles, and the kept repeating the mantra "just keep pedaling, don’t stop".  Alex did great all morning, and never had a problem all day.  Its really fun to see people progress as a rider.
Badass Plumber

Patterson lets no demo bike stem go unslammed
Saturday afternoon I did the Rays to Lake ride.  Which was essentially a race paced ride out of the expo area up the road to the top of Osprey trail, then screaming down to the Hydro loop where we were supposed to meet a house boat.  It was sort of like a race in that only the first 30 people that finished would be able to board the houseboat (that also had a keg of Sierra Nevada).  This was also the only time during the weekend that I demo'ed a hardtail, a Cannondale Flash.  I was really impressed with that bike.  As we went up the road to the top I really started to see the flash shine.  It’s a 29'er that really does not start to shine until you put it in the big ring.  I was a little worried when we started down the descent, as I was in front of the group, but once we hit Hydro the group was pretty strung out.  There was only one SS'er that was with me, and I wanted to see how the bike handled in the corners, so I started really punching it out of the turns. I did not know where the boat was going to pick us up, so me and the SS'er just busted out another loop on Hydro.  So much fun on a super fun bike.
Then we started our cruise back to camp, that we interrupted for some cliff jumping and aquatic shenanigans.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Its a quality that I do not always exhibit, but today as I was getting ready to buy new Hyd. brake lines so I could move the Elixirs over to the Ferrous I thought it might be a good idea to measure before I cut.  I just assumed since I had originally shortened them for the Scott Scale that they would be too short for the long wheelbase of the Ferrous. 
The line length is perfect.
I just saved 40 bucks.
I think that deserves a special treat!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strada Fango

Fast Forward:  I had just bridged up to the lead group (on a SS this is something to crow about) about 5 miles into what I thought was a gravel road race.  After collecting myself, I started to pay attention and look around.  I was immediately struck by the fact that everyone in this break was on a full suspension mountain bike. a few minutes later the gravel road race ended as we hit the ATV trails.  That was about the end of my time at the front.  By the 10 mile mark I had manged to pinch flat both tubeless tires at the same time as I banged down the rocky ATV trails.
Mutter expletives. 
Start putting in tubes.
Get mocked by the two dudes on the tandem.
Reflect on the irony of that.
Clean up my yardsale.
Chase down the tandem and shout at them.

I managed to move backup through the group, and eventually got in with a group, but the pounding on my hands was pretty demoralizing.  This course had everything. We rode through singletrack, pavement, ski trails, ATV trails, Dams, through a strip mine, and across lots of sand.  It was obvious that the organizers did a ton of work to place all the signage which made it easy to navigate.  There were even some freshly cut ST sections. 
Lots of rolling terrain.  I was a hurting unit when I finished.  It was so rolling that I could never get on top of my 42:18 gearing.  I think I only managed a avg speed of 14 mph, which is way too slow (contributing to my demoralization).
Bottom Line:
Many thanks to the Organizers. 
Don't show up without a geared 4 inch FS bike with 1.9's.  I now understand why Trek sells so many Top Fuels in WI.

Monday, April 23, 2012


You never know when they will slam on their brakes.
I would never live in California. I don't know that this is California so I will just rely on preconceived stereotypes to guide my judgement.
Never once did it occur to her that maybe she should not have slammed on her brakes in the middle of the trail.  Its not like she wasn't wearing enough equipment to drown Michael Phelps. I felt bad for the guy that ran into her. He just kept taking her verbal abuse.  I would have loved to see John Waller deal with this situation.

I am gonna go hunt some morels with Brutus and the little man.  If some little ol' Chinese lady starts creeping on my mushroom territory I will scream and throw my bike at her. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mammoth Gravel Classic

That ride was reminiscent of when I was in high school when I got nominated to participate in a game of "donkey basketball" as a fundraiser for our high school Ag program (I am pretty sure that this fundraising practice is outlawed nowadays)  It consisted of careening out of control, almost getting bucked off (don't doubt my ability to cover some hide), dragging a recalcitrant animal around, and getting the poop kicked out of me, repeatedly while trying to shoot hoops in the gym.  It was incredibly fun, had a ton of laughs, and I was wore slap out when it was all said and done.  The Mammoth Gravel Classic had all of these hallmarks (minus the donkey kicks).

When I rolled into the Cyclova XC shop in downtown Saint Croix Falls, I immediately saw several friendly faces as we got signed in, picked up Gandy Dancer Trail Passes, and shot the bull with Frank and Ben, the proprietors of Cyclova XC.  Got to visit with Wooly Race Organizer Matt Fisk, who was leading us out of town in a Chevy Volt.  Thought that was a nice touch.

Once we we hit River Road it was all business as a ton of people surged to the front, and the group was really zipping along at 22 mph.  Saw multiple Tandems, including the Salsa Prototype Tandem that was captained by Joe Meiser and powered by Jason Gaikowski.  I was really impressed with how Salsa spec'ed it. I also was please to see that instead of using a tandem specific crankset, they ran the timing chain on the drive side on the granny rings.  I saw a tandem at NAHMB that was set up the same way, and thought it was a great idea as there are so few decent, modern tandem cranks.

Once we hit Wolf Creek it was time to move up as the soft sand was making things pretty sketch.  Managed  to stay in the top 30 until we hit 310th Ave when the blow sand really started to pull the group apart.  I managed to stay clear and found myself in the top 5 with Jesse Rients trying to chase down the couple of mountain bikers that got away.  After a couple minutes of watching Jesse ride away, I heard Chad Sova and Barry Tungseth roll up behind me, and we started to give chase.  At the 25 mile mark I stopped for a PBR at the aid station that they so graciously provided.  That meant that Chad and Barry got away, but I had a PBR to keep me company.
Being on the SS leaves me under no illusions about my place in the world.....or at least the peleton.
I managed to catch back up to Barry a mile or two later.  Sova was gone.  Barry and I traded pulls on County Rd O until we got overtaken by the train that Ted Loosen was driving.  Barry and I tagged along for about 7 miles before I popped.  We had just made contact with Sova, but I just was not able to keep up the mad spinning that it took to compensate for the surging as guys were pulling through.  Barry was kind enough to fall of the back with me, and we pretty much occupied no mans land for the rest of the ride.

My thighs we starting to cramp pretty bad by the time we started to hit the climbs right before Luck.  I tried to walk up one of the climbs, but that did not really help.  I was able to spin it out once we hit the Gandy Dancer.  We rode with Jesse for a little while on the Gandy, as he was the only one from the lead group to stop for coffee at Cafe Wren, but we fell back about 6 miles from the finish.  With about 3 miles to go I whipped out the PBR that I picked up about 40 miles earlier, and split it with Barry.  Was a good way to finish the ride.

Was great route that was well marked, and I thought that it was a excellent way for Cyclova XC to highlight the great routes around that area.  Many thanks to all the people that put in the time and effort to make this awesome event happen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I am not a important person

But it seems like my time is getting pretty valuable. Not enough of it to put my thoughts down on the interwebs.
Made Cookies though.

The right woman would throw herself at you if you have a bucket of these and a half gallon of 2%.

You cant see it below but butch is eating a donut the size of his head.....while riding with a 25 mph tailwind, on a perfect MN day. Happy Easter.

We should have donut hunts on Easter. (Filched from Butches twitter Acct)

God knows about these donuts, he can see them from space.

Katie told Butch she wanted a new back door. We made it happen.

Prepping the new base for the sill plate.
It took us a few hours, mostly due to my OCD and over analysis, but we got it hung.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Big Miles

Took a "new" cyclist on his first hundred miler on Saturday. Headed to St Croix Falls via the Gateway trail then hooked it up with some sweet dirt roads cutting across the countryside until we hit Hwy 8 near Scheafer, MN. Ray was a trooper about the dirt, as he was on his road bike with 23c tires. I pulled the whole way there since there was a little head wind and I was on my SS and could be super consistent about speed. We worked on basic tricks of the trade like how to slip in and out of the draft to control your speed and how life is better in the little ring (his pride did not want to hear that). We also crushed it. Average speed was 17.7 mph on the way there.
Ray was feeling pretty bushed once we got to St Croix Falls, WI, so we stopped into Cyclova XC shop so I could pickup a new multi tool and Ray got some goodies. They were also kind enough to let us leave our bikes in the shop while we ate lunch.
On the ride Back to the cities we went south on 240th for like 20 miles. Its a sweet road that has several climbs but nothing steep. It was also a bluebird afternoon. sunny and 70. Ray could easily keep up with my normal pace on the ride home, so we were going two wide since there was no traffic on that road. In Somerset, we stopped for a gallon of water and delectable gas station fare. I got a apple fritter and kettle chips.
I almost died. I had the worst gas pains within 20 minutes. I think Jeremy Powers refers to this as cross gut.Link Whatever, it sucked. We took Rustic Road into Hudson, WI, and then crossed the River on the I-94 bridge. Then it was 14 miles back to the house for some Grainbelt and front stoop sitting. Now granted this whole time I am in pretty severe discomfort, feeling bloated and irritable, but considering how fast and how far we went my legs felt great. The second I walked into the house I took some Simethecone and felt better in 5 minutes. I am gonna have to start carrying a few packets in my saddle bag.
I think Ray had a good time, and it a pretty rewarding experience sharing a sport that you are passionate about with folks that are new to it.

Headed up the North Shore over Easter weekend to pre-ride the Gravel Conspiracy course. That will be a 300 mile weekend. Singletrack was dry today, so I took the SS over to River Falls, WI. Definitely took some time to get back on the mountain bike rhythm, and 34:17 was not kind to my knees after yesterdays shenanigans.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Being a hardman

I was going to title this post, "I used to be a Pansy" and then launch into about how living in the plains or northern midwest will turn you into a hard ass. This all came about after reading accounts of winter riding in the old country (SE US). Its tough for me to imagine that 6 years ago I have never seen temps below -2 F and wind never really figured into my daily planning. Weather does some really strange things to you mentally.
I remember my first summer in KS, it started to drive me mad because we had a string of 12 cloudless days. I just was not prepared for that sort of crap. That much sunshine will drive you crazy.
In western NC we get about 55 inches of rain per year, and it is spread out evenly throught the entire year. so you can count on at least 1 day a week is going to be cloudy and rainy. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that.
But you never know what is going to happen out here. Which leads me into another rickety segue, I had a dream (nightmare) last night that I was trying to outrun a tornado and ended up having to share a tornado shelter with Lady Gaga. If only Gwar had made a cameo appearance, could that dream been any creepier.
So bottomline, I feel that I have matured as a person since learning to live on the plains, just don't let lady Gaga near me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bought a ticket

Over the last few years I have dumped some serious cheddar into traveling to mountain bike races. But rarely did I really get to enjoy that terrain of the event, and mingle amongst the common folk.
This past November, I made it to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Clubs fall get together. I got to ride new trails, meet fun people, and ride bikes. It got me to thinking.
I should try to get to events that showcase trails, so when I was up late one night I saw that Dirt Rag was hosting a long weekend of trails at their annual DirtFest, I knew that I needed to go.
I have also been trying to capitalize on the fact that Southwest Airlines has a major hub here in the Twin cities.
So I got a roundtrip flight to Pittsburgh for $220.
I am looking forward to this immensely.

Ask me about the 33rd annual Eelpout Festival. It was all the culture I could stand.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Attn: Navigational Zen Masters

Ok, I will come clean.
There is a new Gravel Conspiracy race in the works.
Its a stage race....up north.
3 days, 330 miles. It will be free, but entry will be limited to 75.
The website will go live later this month.

In the mean time, I have created routes, and would like to take the .gpx files that I created from gmaps pedometer and turn them into cue sheets. I then intend to laminate the cue sheets onto the back of the number plate (think Psycowpath plates) that you would mount to your handlebar. This would eliminate the soggy cue sheet phenomenon, and would allow the riders to flip the plate up to navigate or leave it down for ID purposes.

Bikely software is being wonky, and the googlemap cuesheet hack will not read my .gpx files (and its pissing me off).

I would also like to have the .gpx file openly available for riders that would like to navigate to course with a GPS, but there is something I am missing.

You help me iron it out the cue sheets and formatting, and I will guarantee your entry, and cover your lodging costs. I will even pick you up at the MPLS airport if you want to fly in for the race.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snow bike racing ....... or not

Last week got away from me, in many ways. It seems like since the start of the new year I have just been treading water. Not in a bad way, but I have definitely been busier with work and home stuff, which is the way I would have it in the winter doldrums. That said being prepared is a dicey subject when you don't really have a ton of free time to plot, plan and connive.

So I missed the start of last weeks Cold Bear Challenge Snow Bike Race. By a lot. Like I started 10 minutes after the unicyclists (yes. Unicycles in the snow. You will just have to believe me. (edit I found footage)). I actually asked someone that looked like they had some authority if I could just jump in, and they acquiesced. So I started chasing.

Given the relatively mild winter that we have had this year I have not really taken the fat bike thing very seriously. Apathy would best describe my feelings towards fat bikes. The conditions have got to be pretty bad to make me want to ride a 35 lb bike with 10lbs of weight in the wheel-set. But I really haven't tried it so I will not knock it.

Anyway, I started late which meant that I had to ride through most of the intermediate field. The LCR crew had us riding the Hillside trails backwards, which was actually a lot of fun. After a half lap I really started moving through the field. I was SS'ing and was pushing a pretty good gear ratio, so I found myself really powering out of the corners and on the inclines. By the end of the first lap I was passing people pretty steady, and then it really thinned out, as the intermediate class only turned one lap. The second lap was pretty solitary. I could tell that I was getting tired as it became harder and harder to hold the lines in the snow and I found myself struggling to keep my front wheel out of the chunder. I managed to catch Eddie Karow, a fellow Battle Creek-er, about a mile from the finish. The result was not what I wanted, but given the fact that I started so late, I was pleased with the ride time. Its fun to ride when you have no where to go in the field but up. Plus a nice lady was offering pulls from a bottle of Jameson at the top of a run up. It was 15 degrees remember, gotta keep the blood thin. Once I finished I handed one of the timers a $10, and thanked them for letting me jump in. They even scored me

Here is some of the Footage that Todd Trembley captured from the Cold Bear Challenge (there is snow Municycling.....brace yourself).

So this weekend I decided to keep it close to home, instead of driving down to Rochester for the unnamed Almanzo ride. I actually made that decision at about 0630. Drive 3 hours and ride for 4 hours on icy roads, or sleep in, Watch the CX World Championships, then ride to Carver Lake for the first installment of the Cold Catfish Cup TT series.

So I decided to stick close to home for some Carver Lake singletrack racing. I really felt like this was the first time this year where there was a well defined advantage to being on a fat bike. I say that not because there was any real advantage as far as being able to go fast, but because the wide tires let you be less judicious about where you put your wheel. I was on my SS with Maxxis 2.1's inflated to about 22 psi. I was able to ride just about everything, but had to be so tense and focused about where I put the front wheel. Since Carver Lake is relatively new singletrack it still has a lot of slightly off-camber trail surface, and if my skinny front wheel got even the tiniest bit off the hard pack snow, a washout was imminent.

Reed and the Angry Catfish Crew sent us off in 30 second intervals, based on how we registered. I went off about 10th and caught my 30 second man about a mile in. Even though the ST is pretty tight and twisty, all of my passing events were smooth and I tried to be courteous.

I managed to not seriously pile it up, and did not get passed but on the last lap I could tell that there was a dude the was putting some serious time into me.

I was pleased with that result, but I came to a conclusion. Riding a fat bike in the snow is like being on a 5 inch travel bike on XC singletrack. You just don't have to worry about anything. Its not a big deal if your line is not perfect, as opposed to when you are on a skinny bike you are trying to stay on a route that is 10 inches wide. I felt like I was having to go sooooo slow to make sure that I kept my front end out of the chunder. It was also a little annoying on the 2nd lap as everything got chewed up. it takes a ton of composure to stay seated and grind up the climbs on the SS without the rear end breaking loose, and I could definitely feel my composure starting to wain as fatigue set in.

I just now found some footage that Heath Weisbrod took on his way to winning yesterday.

It made me think of the conversation I had with Dennis Grelk one time about how doing 10 mph on a snow bike felt like you were on a rocketship. Heath is going so fast in this video, its really kind of scary. I hope that DG is staying warm at the Arrowhead
This almost makes me want a snow bike........

Monday, January 16, 2012

Europe is Irrelevant?

Am I the only person asking that question?
I counted 16 non North American CX Competitors at Masters Worlds in Louisville this weekend, and based on the teams, I think only about 5 or 6 actually traveled here. The rest appear to be expats that now abide in the US.
Last year, the state of Kansas sent more riders to Mol, Belgium for masters worlds than the entire continent of Europe sent to the US this year.

I just don't know what to think about this. It kind of makes me wonder if just 10 Europeans will show up for next years Elite UCI race.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More effective than syrum of ipecac

This made me throw up.

This and more nausea can be found here
Remember every time you pay retail at a bike shop a hipster get struck by lightning. A responsible bike shop would never allowed something like this to happen.
What reeally made me sick to my stomach was ramming my bike into my garage this evening, destroying a perfectly good Yakima rack. The mountain bike was fine. For the sake of irony I should add, that I did have it set up as a fixie.