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2012 'Not Snowing Season' Schedule

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Another lazy boring summer lined up for this year.


14: Ragnarok 105
21: Ronde Von Skandia (T)
28-29: Yukon J. Malamute Memorial Backpacking Trip 

3-13: One Lap
19: Royal 162
25-27: Ride The Keweenaw

16: Keweenaw Chain Drive (S)
22-24:North Manitou Island Backpacking Trip
29-30: Marquette Bike Jam(F,B)

7: Miner's Revenge (F,B)
18-22: Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium

1-9: Downstate Bike Tour, Home to Ludington and back. (T)
11: Ore To Shore (S? F? B?)
18: Great Deer Chase (S)

2: Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival (F,B)
8: Tour Da Woods (S? F?) 
29: Heck of the North (S)

T: Tentative, S: Single Speed, F: Fat Bike, B:Bikepacking

I took a year or two off from "serious" mountain bike racing once I had met my initial goals of completing them without dying in the process. Now that I've conquered bigger and tougher events, I like going back to them just for the fun and camaraderie. Probably race the fatbike a few times to increase the fun factor and  do a couple self supported bikepacking expeditions to a few races just for the extra challenge. 

Doing a few backpacking trips as well. The Yukon Memorial trip is a short weekend I'd always take my malamute out for as soon as the snow melted enough to do so.  Destination is cool little waterfall down a canyon that has a mine shaft drilled into the side.  After Yukon died, I spread his ashes out there. Now I bring a bottle of "Canadian Hunter" and proceed to get melancholy.  

Unless any of my cohorts come up with a better idea, I'll probably once again do the tour down through Wisconsin to catch the ferry over for my family's annual summer party.  Most likely won't do the full loop again, but just take the ferry both ways.

Also looking forward to getting the kayak out for some crazy trips this summer. Some friends and I have a number of them planned including numerous overnight Keweenaw expeditions and a return to the Huron Islands. 

And for sure, there will be lots of all day mountain bike or gravel road rides thrown in for good measure.

Somwhere in there, I might mow my lawn too.  

BDB Training Guide

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Hi kids.  It's that rough time of the year- daylight is running short and the weather is turning colder, but it's still not quite ski season yet.  That doesn't mean we can't stay in top, competitive form though.  Perhaps these helpful videos will help see you through the holidays. 

Dude! Where ya been?!

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Holy crap. It's November already. 

Wasn't it like, August just yesterday?

Well, anyway- Cyclocross has been a little depressing this year. I made the jump to A class, but I'm just getting the royal, double footed, no handed ass kicking treatment. Which is exactly what I hoped for, but it's spread all us former B class guys out all over the field and the actual racing hasn't been as much fun.   I tried going back to B for one race but after getting dangerously close to landing on the podium, it felt a little too much like sandbagging.  In theory, it's probably where I belong as I had a great fight with 4-5 guys and didn't give an inch. But then again, my current predicament in A is exactly where I was in B a few years ago.  No reason to sit still in B when I can try and get a little better in A.  But damn, I do miss those epic battles... 

The gravel road racing season also ended on a somewhat mediocre note.  I felt we had a good showing at the Gentlemen's Ride and the event went great despite the epic flooding in the area that weekend.  However, the next weekend at Heck of the North just didn't go so well for me.  I just had one of those bad days on the bike.   The speed wasn't there most of the time and when it did come, I was often out by myself or making a wrong turn or whatever.  Thankfully, it proved to be an good weekend in Duluth in all other regards. The course is great, the fall colors were awesome, and my fellow competitors proved to be the usual excellent crop of folks that enter these things. 

Somewhere in there were a few mountain bike races, a couple epic tours, and the usual commuting, training, and trail rides.  Some good stories, but unfortunately- a lot of the same. I'm really looking forward to next year. As usual, I've got all kinds of crazy ideas on what I want to do. 

But in the meantime, SNOW DAMMIT. 

Last winter kind of sucked and ended early. I have never been more ready for winter to kick in. This year, I may just say to hell with racing and ski for fun.  The Noquemanon is cool event but I have just terrible luck surrounding it. Cold weather, flat tires, getting sick. Not to mention it's got a huge (and non-refundable or transferable!) entry fee.  I may come around in March for the Bear Chase, but I'll be savoring all my weekends out in the backcountry for the foreseeable future.

Chequamegon 100

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"Dude, how'd it go?"  

I don't know.  

It was really hard, I guess.   

But I finished.   

Definitely the hardest thing I've ever done on a bicycle.   

And now that it's behind me I'm sort of lost and without a goal to shoot for.   

I started this bike racing thing almost exactly four years ago. I signed up for the 16 mile Chain Drive.  I honestly wasn't sure if I'd even finish, let alone beat anybody.  And sure enough, I did finish- even beat a few people too.   

Some people are sore losers, I'm a sore winner.  This was merely an indication I needed to try something much harder next time.  So I've been doing progressively harder and harder races ever since.  This past April and May were the culmination of that- 2 hundred mile plus gravel grinders, a 100 mile mountain bike race, and a 75+ mile road race with the local big dogs that I decided to do on a mountain bike.  After spending a lot of time and money preparing for these, I successfully completed them all.  

So now it's time to pick an even harder event- right?  There's no shortage of events to choose from. The Trans Wisconsin, Tour Divide, Arrowhead 135.  All big challenges.  However, all will take a significant amount of time and money to prepare for.  In some cases, life altering amounts of time and money.  And here's the problem- lately, I just haven't been getting out of cycling what I've been putting into it.  

Four years ago, my enthusiasm would positively nauseate you.  And why not? I dropped over 100 lbs with the help of cycling, got myself in the best shape of my life, met some cool new people, and had some fun new adventures.  It goes to reason then that if I cycle more, I'll get more of these things- right?  

Well, maybe not.  

I know what's going on here. I've seen this pattern in me enough. I've done it with all sorts of things. Motorcycles, rally, ham radio, the list goes on and on...   This is the phase where I go from being completely gonzo about something to quietly integrating it into my lifestyle.   Focusing on the things I enjoy most about the sport and committing to them.

I've got a pretty empty calendar for the rest of this season.  I'm teaming up with my dad for the 12 hours of Potluck. I'm looking forward to Miner's Revenge and the Copper Harbor Fat Tire Fest- albeit maybe more for the parties than the races themselves.  I certainly won't miss the Official Unofficial UP State Single Speed Championships at the Great Deer Chase. And of course there's my favorite form of bike racing ever- cyclocross in the fall again.  In between I'm hoping to get some touring in and of course the best kind of riding ever- just getting lost all day on a bike.   

Things might be kind of quiet around here for the rest of the summer, but rest assured- I'll be out pedaling.  Gotta justify that beer drinking somehow.  :)      


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Managed to get a good training ride in this weekend.  'Twas a plan hatched over too many beers at the KBC the night before. 

"James, you should come to Marquette tomorrow."

"Can't. Gotta ride my bike."

"Ride to Marquette!"  

"Uhhh, OK." 

So I took the Northwest Road from Skanee over to Big Bay. Was a very, very nice ride except for the segment from Dodge City to 510.   Still lots of frost holes. Enough to swallow half a bicycle wheel.  Once I had made it that far, no way I was turning back.  Made it the Portside around 6pm. This was a pretty good ride, I'm feeling pretty confident going into the Ragnarok.  About myself, anyway. 

I'm still uncertain which bike I want to use.  I have a new 29er that should be arriving any day now.  I'd like to race it this weekend, but I'm concerned it might be too slow.  But then again, I'm signed up to do a hundred miles of singletrack on it in May.  This will be one of exactly two opportunities between now and then to get 100 miles in on this bike- both races.  But I've only got a few days to test it out and get it setup before this one. But then, the ol' Jake's new wheelset has been delayed and really could use about $100 worth of new drivetrain components (which is unlikely to happen before the race).   Dunno. 

I was also happy to note that I got a place in the "Heck of the North", another gravel grinder in the AGRS.   This gets me an entry in 4 out of the 5 AGRS races including the two lottery entries.  The fifth one, all I have to do is sign up and I'm in.  Only problem is, that race is the day after the start of the Trans Wisconsin.   And the same day as the Chain Drive.  I wouldn't mind skipping the Chain Drive this year as it always kicks my ass, but I really want to do the Trans Wisconsin. But I don't know if I can get the vacation time for it, organize a ride down to the start, cough up the cash for the lightweight bikepacking gear I'd need, or get back in time for Superior Bike Fest.   I'd like to say I'm undecided on this, but I think I've already made up my mind.  Even these gravel grinders are proving very difficult to train and prepare for. It's very, very hard to find the time to get the miles in that I'd like to get in.  Given that May and June are going to be absolutely nuts as it is, maybe I should sit it out the Trans Wisconsin this year or maybe run an individual time trail in July.     

Really, really, REALLY bad decisions....

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Funny how it's always the little things.  (Read the comments.)

Yep, 15 whole extra points for finishing the Tour Divide.  

I'm thinking about it a lot more seriously than I've thought about it before. 

I haven't actually fully committed to this yet, and even then there's quite a few wherefores and what-have-yous before I know I can go, but I'm actually contemplating the mechanics of pulling this off, rather than just thinking "how cool would that be..."  

"Dear sweet lord in heaven, WHY?!", you might ask?

There's a million reasons, but one really stands out. I've never, ever DNFed.  Maybe it's dumb luck, maybe I'm not pushing as hard as I could, but I've always, always finished.  Sure, I regularly bump into my limits of outright speed, but what about endurance and perseverance? How do you know where the limit is if you don't cross it?   

On a lighter note, I should point out that my Mom came through with flying colors with Christmas swag.  Went out skiing in a twenty below windchill last weekend and was actually too warm in all my fancy merino wool.   

Socks and Underwear for Christmas

It's almost Christmas again.  Time for my my legions of fan (Hi, Mom!) to contemplate what to get me for Christmas.   

Usually, they have no idea, so they ask.  And then I take a deep breath and respond...


To which my loved ones usually interrupt, "Uh... How 'bout we just send you a check?"

Me: "OK."  

Still, some of us choose to challenge ourselves physically and mentally on various ski and bike racing courses whereas my mother is the world's fiercest and most determined Christmas shopper.   This year, I'd like to give her something of a challenge.  

So, here's the official BDB Christmas wish list:

-Cyclocross socks. Our team jerseys are cool and all, but I'm totally slacking on the cyclocross fashion front.  My socks are just not up to par.  

For example, these are cool cyclocross socks. And so are these. As well as these.  These are not.     

-Wool.  Zillions of dollars in synthetic fiber research has just been unable to beat this stuff. Go nuts in the 100% wool department.  Long underwear, socks, and bicycling jerseys top the list.  (size XL, please.)   

-Kilt.  Yes, your son wants a dress. Both for formal occasions and changing into bicycling clothes in the parking lot without getting arrested.   

-Knickers.   This is the challenge.  I can't find these anywhere.  100% Wool kickers, with a lower cuff. Something like these.  


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I think she's on to me.


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We interrupt this tour report to bring you an important message.

On August 28th, 2009, the editors of "Bad Decision Bicyclist" mistakenly reported that "Touring by bicycle is awesome." 

This is incorrect, it should read as follows:

Touring by bicycle is for fat, slow guys with beards on overloaded bikes with yellow fenders and blinkie lights.

Bikepacking is, in fact, where it's at, yo. 

The editors of "Bad Decision Bicyclist" sincerely regret this mistake and are also incapable of growing a beard. 


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As Jello Biafra once said, "Being the old underground diehard won't pay the kid's dental bills."  While I don't have kids, I do have a lot of dumb stories to tell, and I hate posting the same thing to 37 different forums and social networking sites, so I figure I'd do the blog thing so the 3 people who actually care (Hi Mom!) can check in regularly.  Without needing a gopher client.