April 2012 Archives


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This one looked seriously iffy going into it.  Long range forecasts were talking about hail and tornadoes and fire and brimstone.  

So at 5am the morning of, I'm trying to find a local tv station to get the local low down on the weather.  Nothing but infomercials.   Including one for spinning. 

"You can do it in the privacy and convenience of your own home!"

I just drove all the way to Red Wing, MN to parade my spandex-clad ass around south eastern MN.  

"Miss Kansas uses spinning to maintain a healthy lifestyle!" 

A bunch of ugly dudes with beards use gravel road racing as an excuse for excessive beer consumption. 

"Act now and get the 'Tour of Ireland' DVD!" 

I gotta admit, replace the falling down castles with falling down barns and it's almost the 'rök. 

The irony of it all was just too much.  

Prognosis on the weather was looking good. Looked like pretty much the worst of anything would hold off until later that afternoon. A good excuse to keep on the gas and not get caught out in bad weather. 

We started in a brisk mist. One where you can't really guess which way the weather is going to go. As such, many were packing a rain jacket or some such as a contingency plan. 

Start went as per usual.  Cold legs into a hard climb kept the pack together for the first couple miles. Later on though, my impressions of the Fargo as a poor gravel road racing rig were reinforced.  It was just really tough to find the right pack to hang on to. Usually, my approach to this event is to find a pack I can barely hang on to and stick it out until the first checkpoint. This year, I kind of bounced from group to group.  

And got passed a lot. 

I mean, A LOT. 

I guessed that some of the faster guys had missed a turn someplace and were now hammering their way back up to the front. Looks like I was right, but man- it's demoralizing to get passed by the same dudes twice. 

While no speed demon, the Fargo is still a great bike to really enjoy this type of riding.  Sitting upright and rolling on big rubber let me enjoy the scenery a bit more. And those fat tires with disc brakes just made the descents crazy, crazy fun.  

But of all the weather scenarios that could have played out- the one I was unprepared for came true. A beautiful day of blue skies and sunshine. I'll be nursing a case of sunburn for a few days.  

Finished just 7 minutes later than last year. But at 12.5mph average as opposed to 13.1 on last year's longer course.  Things went pretty well during the event and training leading up to it, so I'm gonna go ahead and say it's the slower bike. 

But now I'm in a quandary about the Almanzo.  100 or 162?  I know I can knock out the 162, but with only minutes to spare before the cutoff last year, can I do it this year on a slower bike? Or will the lower gearing and better traction help me through some of the big time sinks last year?  Should I just dust of the Jake?  Should I just buy a proper friggin' CX bike rather than race weird crap?  

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

These things need to come with a warning...

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Goddamn Fargo. 

So I got some new tires and a rack that I wanted to test out before the Ragnarok.  I figured I'd ride into work. 

Well, remember that railroad grade? I figured I'd check out the section north of Arnheim Road. 

Guess which part I hard to walk? 

Still, some of the sections with tracks were still rideable. 

But I was happy to see the start of the developed trail. 

Why I love the UP. You'd never see this sign unless you went down a dead end trail. Arnheim Falls is approximately 36-48" in height. :)

Another New Bike(I can quit anytime!)

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Got the Fargo done this weekend.  

Fresh and unmolested, ready to head out yesterday morning:

Stopping for glamor shots:

First impressions, this thing does not ride at all like I expected.  I guess I was sort of expecting it to be a lightweight, flexy frame.  This thing is a fucking tank.  It's meant to be loaded up for touring.  

Also, trekking chainrings and a MTB cassette are not gravel road racing appropriate. The jumps between gears are just way too big. Really need a road casette. Going with 8 speed just exacerbates the problem.  Plus those bar cons way out there on the ends of those woodchippers are a bit of a reach.  

What this bike loves though is playing "Where Does That Go?"

Yes, there's a trail there. And I rode down it. Couldn't quite make it back up though.  :D

It's also the best two tracking bike I've ridden yet.  I could ride this stuff all day.

Riding some Ottawa Slickrock on Silver Mountain.  

The summit:

The silver mine for which the mountain is named:

Took a turn onto the north country trail. Which is technically not allowed. But in all the years I've hiked it, I've never seen anybody on it. And many portions are overgrown to the point of being near impossible to follow. And I've got a whole list of rationalizations for biking where I'm not supposed to if you want to hear them....

But brushfires had recently scorched the Baraga Plains. So it wasn't long before I was humping the bike over all kinds of deadfall leaving me covered in small cuts and ash.  Karma's a bitch. 

And then I discovered my barcons had come loose.

Did I mention this was going to be an easy ~75 mile gravel loop just to shake down the bike? Damn Fargo wanting to go down every little two track...

At this point I was out of food and water and had to high tail it to the nearest town to restock.  

8 hours in and I still had a solid 20 miles left to get home.  But I still couldn't stop checking out new trails.  Found this old railroad grade that spans many miles.

Stuff like this keeps the ATVs off it, so I had the trail to myself.

Finally back home. Other than the loose shifters, no issues after some serious abuse.  

No idea how many miles I did, but after 10 hours- I hurt far more this morning than I did after a paved 150 miler I did a few weeks ago.

Gonna have fun with that bike this summer.

How To Pick Your Battles

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What's that famous quote? "The battle is won before it's fought?" 
As well you know by now, Iove the drama of throwing myself headlong into some crazy race I have absolutely no chance of winning. 

But you know, dammit. I like trophies too. 

And if there's one thing I've learned from racing cars- there's a podium for every man who wants one.  Whether it be Midwest Production Regional Rally Championship or 35 and over fatbike racer, rest assured- there's a class out there with a trophy just waiting for somebody to show up and claim.

First up was the Red Jacket Cyclotron in Calumet. Hefty snowstorms kept the MQT crew at bay keeping the trophy:competitor ratio pretty high. But I still legitimately beat a few guys for first in my class. 

Next up was the Midwest Snowbike Championships. This was another hammerfest on XC ski trails.  We actually had a rotating pace line going for about half of it.  I'm that much closer to putting drop bars on the pugs. 

I did hold on for 3rd place in my class. 

It was an emotional moment on the podium for all. 

(all above images courtesy of Adam Griffis)

And one last fat bike victory for the season this past weekend at the "First Annual Shitshow". Whether it was my stunning batman costume, my inspiring beer consumption performance, or the story involving my teammate, the purchase of contraceptive devices, and my teammate- I'm not sure, but I did get the coolest prize out of them all:

Convenient carrying case included!