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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.  

2010 Bike Season Wrap Up

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My legion of fanS (Yes, it's plural now!) have been demanding an update. With less writing and more pictures. 

So yes, I did finish out the tour. Riding through the Traverse City area reminded me of all the reasons I stayed in the UP. I cut the trip back up through WI a bit short as it was pretty hot, and this being my 3rd time on the same route, I was getting a little bored of it.  All in all, another great tour though. I could do this for the rest of my life if I had too. More pictures here.

But then it was back to racing...

The 2010 UP State Singlespeed Championships went pretty well. I had a sprint to the finish to come in just behind last year's UP State singlespeed champion.  I still really like the Deer Chase. It's probably the only MTB race I really do anymore for the racing.

Somewhere in there, I started organizing a team for the upcoming Gentlemen's Ride in MN the next month.  One of my teammates came over to the UP to do some riding with me and we rode from my house down to Eagle River, WI for the Central ADV Rally. We stuck with mostly gravel roads on the way down and it turned into quite the adventure- what with the moose encounter, and finishing out the last 20 miles in the dark on a sandy two track with minimal lighting.  We took surprisingly little crap for showing up at a motorcycle rally in spandex trousers on bicycles. As always, a hell of a party. The hangover was mostly gone by the time I finished the 100 mile grind back north.  At least I fared better than the two guys who woke up at the campground literally days after the rally ended concluding an epic bender.

After that it was off to Fat Tire up in copper harbor.  Weather was a little crappy this year, so I neglected to ride up and also skipped out on the Super D the day before leaving the title of Central Upper Northern Midwest But Not Wisconsin Touring/XC/Downhill title up for grabs. Sadly, there were no contenders so my title is still safe.  I showed up with my 29er, did the long race and felt I did pretty good, but I was just kind of reminded that the better I get at XC MTB racing, the more I seem to dislike it.  I love riding single track, but racing on it just seems to suck the fun out of it. You're either going too fast trying to make time, or too slow because some doofus is in front of you. Then you're stuck racing like a total tool just to maintain your position when you can. It's quickly becoming not worth it anymore.  Thankfully, Fat Tire has a great party afterwards and that's always fun....

I think cyclocross started shortly thereafter.  And, well... I still love CX, but with my move to "Eh" class, things didn't go as well.  A bunch of other guys made the jump as well, but the racing just wasn't the same. Our little pack was totally broken up and a lot of the fun of CX was missing.  I did run one race in the "Bees", gave it my all and still came in fourth with some great racing. I hate any semblance of sandbagging, but it's not like I'm waltzing up to the podium if I move back in 2011.  We'll see....

The we had the Gentemen's Ride, a rendition of the Almanzo 100 that must be completed as a team of four riders. I recruited one of my imaginary internet motorcycle friends and a couple of my teammates and had a pretty good time on this. The slightly slower pace allowed me to enjoy the course more and I think I made a few converts to gravel road racing as well. 

Shortly thereafter was the Heck of the North, another gravel road race in Duluth, MN.  Absolutely, stunningly, beautiful course right in peak color season on the North Shore of MN.  Too bad my fitness level wasn't up to the challenge. The start was a little rough and it took me a while to find my rhythm. I eventually pulled through with a respectable finish, but I'm looking forward to getting back in 2011 for revenge. Gotta get a plug in here for the cool folks that run the Gardenwood resort just north of Duluth. Great hosts for the weekend!

And that kind of finished us out... Honestly, I was getting pretty anxious for ski season.

The Big 2010 Tour: Day 3

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Day 3: Seney to St. Igance, 100 miles

Well, the day started out well enough. I stopped at some bar in Seney that was advertising breakfast and found it was pretty much me and the owner/bratender/cook.  Although they didn't have pancakes, she did an awesome job of filling me up with french toast and then charged me some exorbitant price. I think it was $3.50 for what basically amounted to an all you can eat deal.  

Just before McMillan I ran into some French-Canadian dude on a cross country tour. His English was about as good as my French, but from what I could gather he was about 3 weeks in so far and was planning to end up someplace on the west coast.  

After that... well.  Not much to report. It was a ride.  My schedule for this trip required that I really push hard and make St. Ignace today. Unfortunately, my route was pretty boring and pretty much anything really interesting was a solid 20 mile plus detour.  

I did have to stop and check out why the Post Office in McMillan was for sale though.  

Made it into St. Ignace with no problems and checked into a Motel. Kind of nice to get my first shower in a couple of days.  

The Big 2010 Tour: Day 2

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Day 2: Nestoria almost all the way to Seney: 120 miles

I awoke well rested and still rather full of fish and Old Milwaukee from the night before, so hit the road and belted out a quick 30 miles before stopping for breakfast in Champion at "François' Cafe" where I was immediately greeted by a wide open door. In fact, it wasn't so much wide open as falling of the hinges.  This did give me an opportunity to learn the local pronunciation of "François" when a waitress told another "Hey, give Frankie a call and let him know the door fell off the restaurant".

"Super Dave" was already on the case and fully removing the faulty door from the closing mechanism and setting it aside. Dave is one of those people that you really only get an opportunity to meet when you're riding a bicycle. His Trek was parked next to the restaurant as well and he's the type of person you can only refer to as "a character".  He asked about my trip and told several stories of his own about some serious long distance tours and his racing exploits.  Very cool guy, I see his Trek parked in front of Frankie's from time to time and should check in. 

Besides, and I'll just go ahead and ruin the build up of one of the central themes of this trip when I say that Frankie's has some of the best blueberry pancakes ever.  They managed to walk the fine line between a slightly crispy without being greasy outside with a light and fluffy inside. Well done and perfectly executed.  Even if I wasn't carrying my usual reserve of pure maple syrup.

I used several chunks of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail to navigate the Ishpeming/Negaunee/Marquette area. Cool trail through some really interesting old town and mining ruins. And certainly beat trying to navigate the highways in this area.

I picked up M-94 south of Marquette and came across another sight that you really only notice when on a bike. I've probably driven by the sign 50 times and never given it a second thought. Turns out to be an interesting historical anecdote.

In Chatham, I stumbled across the annual Chatham Country Fair which was going full tilt when I arrived. I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to fill up on healthful foodstuffs such as Funnel Cakes, Elephant Ears, and Walking Tacos. I spent a while hanging out by the tractor pull, but honestly- this old Farmall had everybody pretty much beat on the slick turf from last night's rain. 

Lots of other cool stuff to check out too:

I pressed on with the intention of camping or maybe grabbing a hotel room in Munising, but just outside of Munising something odd was happening. 

See, usually when you cyclotour in rural areas people just think you're weird and sometimes go so far as to question your upbringing, employment status, and even sexual orientation while using colorful metaphors yelled from swiftly moving pickups. Outside of Munising though, people were giving me a wide berth on the road, and even waving at me.  The familiar buzz of oversize BFG Mud Terrains preceding the cloud of diesel exhaust was conspicuously absent.

It was seriously weirding me out. 

Once I got to Munising, I found the town was booked- 100%. Not even a tent space at the overpriced KOA nor a manger was to be had.  It was then that I figured things out when I started noticing all the "26.2" stickers.  I was amongst my peoples: retarded endurance sports junkies.  Marathoners, in this instance. 

With no options for stopping in Munising, I pushed on towards the Seney Stretch. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a long, straight, flat section of M-28.  25 miles. Perfectly flat. And perfectly straight.  

Traffic was light, so I amused myself with my camera. 

Just shy of the rest area, I found a large, open field and set up camp for the night. With setting sun and wildflowers in bloom, it made for one of my best camping nights on a bike tour yet.

The Big 2010 Tour: Day 1

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Whoa, wasn't this, like, months ago dude? 

Well, yeah.  But things got crazy busy for me right when I got back.  I didn't even have a chance to get the pictures off my camera until this morning. And honestly, this wasn't as much fun as all my other tours. Still some good stories worth sharing though. 

The plan was, ride across the UP in about 2.5 days, cross the Mackinac bridge, and then take however many days to get to my parent's house in Scottville, party for a few days, then catch the ferry over to Manitowoc and ride last year's tour route back to home.  I made one big change in my usual touring plans that I sort of regret- I carried no cooking implements our food besides basic snacks intending to catch most of my major meals at restaurants.  This changed the dynamic of the tour more than you might think, but more on that later.

Day 1: Home to Nestoria: 45 miles.

It certainly wasn't my most productive day at work, but I was out and on the road by 5pm. Being rather familiar with the next 250 miles from countless drives downstate, I had a good handle on roadside camping locations and intended to just belt out as many miles as I could. 

The weather had other ideas. After making the turn east just south of L'Anse, I could see an approaching storm front. I could literally look over my shoulder and see the rain catching up behind me.  As luck would have it, It just about overtook me in Nestoria which is known for pretty much two things: being the southern end of the Herman-Nestoria Rd. and home to the "Cozy Inn" and it's famous all-you-can-eat-lake-trout-for-$10 fish fry. 

I ran in and put on my best sad and pathetic looking cyclotourist face and they agreed to let me camp in their backyard. I got my tent pitched just in time and they even let me chuck my bike in an old trailer for the night.  With camp established, I proceeded to do my best on the all-you-can-eat part of the fish fry deal whilst trying to convince my fellow patrons that I was not crazy for attempting this ride. 

My Big 2010 Tour: The Prologue

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So it's just a little bit more than 24 hours since I completed my longest bicycle tour to date, 859.25 miles over 10 days of riding. I'll get the stories and pictures posted over the next few weeks, but there's something I'd like to start with... 

Now, everybody seems real impressed by what I've accomplished, but honestly- I'm rather humbled by what I came across the weekend before I left.  On my way home from 12 hours of Potluck, I saw a bunch of bicycles stopped on the side of the road, one of which was upside down on it's seat and handlebars.  Looked like a flat tire.  Since I had a full size floor pump with me, I'd figured I'd stop to help.

What I encountered really impressed me.  It was a group of about a dozen teenage girls, pedaling their way across the UP.  Now, I follow all kinds of hardcore adventure touring races; the trans-wisconsin, the tour divde, etc. These girls beat them all. 

Any schmoe can spend a zillion bucks on equipment, spend months or even years training, and still keep the ol' Visa card in their back pocket for an easy out when things get really ugly.

Not these girls. They had a collection of old step-through hybrid bikes running semi-knobby tires and had Walmart's finest in outdoor gear unceremoniously bungie corded to their bikes.  I think the only nod to actual cycling clothing any of the girls had was one with a "Livestrong" t-shirt. 

And you know what?  They were out doing it, and clearly having a great time.  Hell, I'd be surprised if they had a collective $250 in saved up babysitting money between the lot of them. And they were still looking forward to what the journey brought their way, despite the day's setbacks.

Turns out, they didn't even really need my help, or that of the two motorcyclists that also stopped. They had spare tubes and a pump and were having no problem getting themselves going again.   

It's too easy to put off a bicycle trip because you don't think you have the right equipment or enough money or whatever. These girls didn't. 25 years from now, they'll still be reflecting on what they learned on that trip.  If you can pedal across the UP with only what these girls had available to them, you can probably accomplish damn near anything in life. 

It's one of the few, truly inspiring things I've seen in the bicycle world. I hope the rest of their trip went well, but given their resourcefulness up to that point, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it went great.   

It really set the tone for my upcoming tour. I had a couple of down moments along the way, but man... I didn't want to be outdone by a bunch of teenage girls!  :)  

Run What You Brung

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I did this one last year for Fat Tire and have been looking for a good opportunity to do it again. Bikepack to a race, carrying whatever I need for raceday and camping there with me on the bike.  And it goes without saying I race whatever bike I ride there too. 

Miner's Revenge was the perfect race to do this. The race is only maybe 35 miles from my house and a weekend of camping is just part of the event with plenty of nice spots right on site.  Plus it's kind of a technical course with lots of opportunities to hurt myself by riding over my head, so knowing I have to get me and the bike back home under my own power is kind of a good motivator to chill out a bit.

The big plan was to leave Friday right after work and take the long way there, camping along the way someplace.  It's usually a nice idea in theory, but rarely works out for me. Instead, I found myself packing for the trip at midnight and on the road the next morning at 7:30AM.  I was hoping to stick with dirt as much as possible, but a navigational error put me behind schedule a little more than I'd like. (Did you know there's a drainage ditch between Greenland, MI and my house named "Greenland"? My GPS does.)  I hopped out on the pavement for the last 15-20 miles into Mass City and cranked her up making it to registration with minutes to spare.  A side benefit of this was that everybody coming from Marquette for the race that morning now knew me as the doofus that rode his bike to the race. 

The race went well. I started in the back and managed to work my way up a bit on the climbs, but took it easy on the descents. I managed to avoid getting into the red mist of racing too much and had an enjoyable ride, joking with folks on the trail and really enjoying the new singletrack.  Rob and his crew have been hard at work and have built some awesome new trails out there. I wish I could have made it down to help them out this year, but they seem to be getting along fine without me right now.  I also just plain flat out enjoy this event. A lot of traditional mountain bike races are lacking in technical challenges. Not so here, and it's certainly not lacking in aerobic challenges either. You have to be a strong all around rider to excel at this event. Which is probably why I finished way in the back. But finish, I did- with me and the bike in one piece.  

Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine showed up with a cooler full of beer. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the Coors Light, or maybe it was just the fact that he had a truck and could haul the twisted remains of me and the bike home if it didn't work out, but I decided to do the downhill event as well.  I figured I was in way over my head when I was the only one at the start line in spandex on a bike sporting a rear rack instead of rear suspension. Nonetheless, I managed to post some not totally embarrassing times. The course was a fun and it was worth the $10 entry fee just to ride in a 6x6 Pinzgauer up the old ski hill to the start.

We set to work on the rest of the beer around the bonfire that night and it wasn't too long before I wandered off and passed out in my bivy sack for the night.  I woke up feeling pretty good, but there was a low point early on that I report with much sorrow. I was handed my first significant defeat of the season by Grandma's Cafe in Mass City, MI.  Usually, there are several foodstuffs that I never really fill up on, I just merely run out- pancakes being one of them.  Well, Grandma's serves a pretty colossal pile and I was forced to admit defeat and not finish them. 

The ride home proved pretty uneventful and I managed to avoid most of the rain.  I'm getting my bikepacking setup a little more dialed in. I think I'm going to need a tent to keep doing this comfortably in the midwest, but I was only an extra pair of bikeshorts away from having everything I needed to keep pedaling for a whole week with me on this trip. I'm looking forward to my next bikepacking trip to Copper Harbor for Fat Tire.  

Any Excuse To Tour

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I think it's been at least two or three posts since I talked about the Tour Divide in this blog. Have you been following it this year? I'm rooting hard for Patrick Tsai. I passed him in the Almanzo 100 and he's currently sticking it out in last place.  It's very much one of those "if he can do it..." sort of things. 

Anyway, in addition to this year's race, a documentary about the 2008 running has also been released- Ride The Divide.  And hey, look at that- a showing in Marinette, WI on July 2nd. That's only 170 miles or so from my house! You know how this goes, right?  Yep. Load 'em up, it's touring time!  

This time, I did something I'm usually a little reluctant to do- invite others on one of my rides. Since it was a holiday weekend, I had a pretty structured route with camping spots already reserved. People would know exactly what they were getting in to. There was some interest, but in the end, only one taker- My teammate/perpetual arch nemesis, Pat. The guy always, always finishes just ahead of me by a few minutes in every race we ever do.  I think I managed to beat him in a cyclocross race once.  

Day 1: Askel to Iron Mountain, 108 miles

So I'm all into the bikepacking thing now and whatnot, but right from the get-go I was reminded how much fun it is to get rolling on a fully loaded touring bike.  Just something about all that momentum and the smooth, stable ride really appeals to me.  And with Pat and I pushing and pulling eachother along, we were just flying right out of the gate. Not even a little rain between Covington and Crystal Falls could slow us down.  I think our moving average was hovering just south of the 15mph per hour mark as we rolled into camp that night.  Cold beers were obtained and we were asleep in short order.  

Day 2: Iron Mountain to Marinette, 76 miles. 

This was supposed to be the easy day.  You know, knock out 70ish miles after the big hundred mile push and roll into town with plenty of time for bike maintenance, laundry, hot tub, beers, and dinner before the movie.  Maybe a nap too.  

Things actually went pretty well until maybe the last 20-25 miles when we hit a pretty fierce headwind. We'd rotate the lead every few minutes, but I was quickly getting the crap beaten out of me.  I was extremely dismayed when we finally did get to Marinette that the hot tub at the Super 8 was merely a myth intended to draw tired bicyclists away from more well appointed hotels.  Oh well. The AC worked and the shower was hot.  After a few beers at "The Railhouse" brewpub (Yay for Imperial Pilsner!) and a double order of perch (the Friday Fish Fry is a deeply rooted religious tradition in Wisconsin you best not ignore), I was much happier and looking forward to the movie that night.  

We arrived at the theatre a little early to meet Erik Mathy who was hosting the screening as part of his fundraising efforts in advance of entering the 2011 Tour Divide himself.  Erik is engaging speaker and very dedicated to his fight against cancer. If you can help him out in any way, I'm sure he and those he's trying to help would appreciate it. His blog is  

I don't need to say much about the movie here. If the subject is even remotely interesting to you, I'm guessing you'll probably see it anyway. Be warned, if you're currently someplace in the middle of the spectrum between "doing the tour divide" and "not doing the tour divide", this movie will do nothing but move you closer in the direction of the former. Non stop awesome scenery, interspersed with inspiring dialogue about the life changing aspects of the ride and the occasional emotional scene when somebody is faced with the prospect of quitting the race.  It was awesome.  More so on the big screen.  

And after the movie I won a kayak rental from CyclePath!  Little do they know how easy it would be to push me over the brink of kayak ownership....   

After one more beer (the gas station attendant was very much impressed with my sophisticated tastes as reflected in my choice of "Milwaukee's Best Ice" for a nightcap), it was lights out.

Day 3: Marinette to Crystal Falls, 106 miles

We started the day by taking revenge on the hotel for depriving us of a hot tub the night before with a full on touring bicyclist assault of the continental breakfast.  We left nothing but a wake of destruction and empty "Bear Claw" wrappers in our path.  

It was pretty hot out, but we had a great tailwind pushing us along and made good time. The highlight of the day was probably the Osprey nest on top of the cable tower. If that wasn't cool enough, dad was out hunting nearby and we got to watch him try to take out a crow.  Some really nice scenery while out riding today and I was digging out the camera more than I had the entire trip so far.

Finished the day at Bewabic State Park just west of Crystal Falls. Neat old CCC buildings, an awesome swimming lake, and a funky bar right across the street made this the best night of camping on the trip for me.  

Day 4: Crystal Falls to Askel, 76 miles

We decided to push hard today to make it back in time for 4th of July Festivities. We still had the tailwind working for us and also a thousand foot drop in elevation once we passed Covington. We were really hauling ass today.  Made it back to my house just as it started to cloud up and raindrops were falling as Pat pulled out of my driveway.  

Great trip. Riding with Pat really worked out well- teaming up together we can really crank out the miles plus he maintains just the right combination of preplanning and just taking it as it comes to put us on the same page for most of the day.  While riding by myself certainly has it's own appeal, touring with others is something I'd like to do more of.  

The final mountain bike race on my calendar was the Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival on labor day weekend.  The only problem is, it's on Sunday. This is probably great if you're coming from out of town, but it kinda kills the whole weekend for us local folks. 

So what to do when you've got a whole day both before and after a race? Ride there and back, of course!  

My obsession with the Tour Divide race is fairly well documented here, and I was kind of frustrated on my Manitowoc tour with being banished to the pavement. So, I ordered up a rack for my mountain bike and stripped down my touring setup to the bare essentials.

I was feeling pretty smug about being Mr. Badass Touring Racer for my plans to ride to Copper Harbor and back until I was riding home from work on Thursday night and ran into a couple of guys from Marquette riding down the highway on their way to Copper Harbor for the race too.

Buncha showoffs.  :)  

Anyway, Saturday morning I took off. The plan was to stick with snowmobile trails as much as possible. Had a nice ride through the old mining ruins of the Keweenaw. 

Once I hit Allouez, I decided to make some time and rode pavement all the way into Copper Harbor. Had plenty of time to register, grab a nice dinner at the Mariner North and head out to my super secret camp site out past the tip of the Keweenaw. I was kind of worried about backcountry camping on labor day weekend, but only one other group had found my spot, and they were camping way down the beach.  

I registered 86 miles for the day. Despite rolling on 2.3" knobbies, I still managed to average about 10mph.  Only about 2mph slower than 35c touring tires and a heck of a lot more comfortable.  

I had myself a nice Polynesian themed happy hour with dried squid and pineapple while I watched the sun go down. 

Rode back into town early the next morning. Thankfully, the team tent was on hand to stash my gear in during the race.

Time to start mentally prepping myself for the race.  I decided to go with the "just have fun and cruise this one" philosophy. After all, I still had to pedal 80 miles or so back home tomorrow, and this race is very technical and it's easy for me to get in over my head and crash if I'm not careful.  

As usual, I took it easy for maybe a whole 5 minutes into the race. 

The first part of the race has a climb up some double track and I was stuck behind a couple of guys riding side by side. The people in front of them were pulling away and the gap was getting bigger and bigger.  Good thing I've got myself a pretty good bag of asshole roadie tricks now. 

I just inserted myself between them and held my ground. If you've ever ridden cyclocross or a crit, this is no big deal. You regularly come into contact with other racers and you sort of learn to lean on them without letting the bikes come into contact. 

This utterly freaks out midpack mountain bikers.  

The guy on the left held his ground pretty well, but the guy on the right immediately headed for the bushes. 

Well shoot, looks like I'm racing now. 

Which was really OK, as the first part of the course really suits me- lots of steep quick climbs that I can power up. The slower traffic from the long race was really killing my big gear mashing technique, but I still found myself in the top 20 for the short race. 

Of course, you know how these stories go now.  "I was doing great until..."

Well, I knew I couldn't hang onto that top 20 for long. Although the first part of the course is lots of quick, steep ups, the latter part is lots of quick, steep downs. It gets so bad in some places, I have to get off and run my bike, and I certainly can't bomb it at race pace.

Before that though, there's some intermediary fast and flowing stuff. Unfortunately, me and a couple of other guys were stuck behind a slower long course racer. After a bunch of incessant whining on our part, he finally let us by and I immediately started riding well outside of my actual ability. I knew I was being a little reckless, so I let the guys behind me by so I wouldn't have any incentive to try and stay ahead of them. 

Didn't work though.

I was happily bombing along when I caught my shoulder on a tree, which bumped my handlebars into another tree, which bounced me off a third and landed me in a pile on top of my bike.  I managed to land on top of my up pointed handlebars right on my collarbone. My collarbone area was screaming in pain, but didn't feel broken, although what really had me worried was the dull twinge in my knee. 

I managed to get up and get going before anybody passed me, but my race was pretty much done at that point.  The only way to get any kind of edge from here on out was to bomb the downhills faster than anybody else, and my confidence was so shaken, I'd have a tough time riding it at Sunday morning cruising pace. 

I managed to hang on to a 36th overall, 30th in my division. A really good finish on my part that I'm quite proud of.  


(Image courtesy of Juskuz.)

This was followed by the famed "Festival" part of the Fat Tire Festival. I kicked back with a beer in my hand and a bag of ice on my knee and it wasn't long before I was feeling no pain whatsoever.  

Just after sunset, I cruised out to a secluded spot a couple of miles out of town and passed out for the night.  


First problem was, it hurt like hell. The most concerning issue was the fact it was now approximately twice the size it used to be.  Once I actually got on the bike and started pedaling though, it didn't really bother me all that much.  I couldn't hammer, but I could certainly spin.  

I ambled my way into town to survey the wreckage left from last night. 

Ate a huge breakfast and pointed my bike southward.  

Man, that was a slog home. but I made it. And I'm now horribly, horribly hooked on this whole bikepacking thing.  I'm now lusting for a 29er hard tail with some custom bikepacking bags and a lightweight sleeping setup to carry with me. I could really get into this touring/racing thing. It adds a whole new spin on "run what you brung".   

And it only took a week or two for my knee to return to a normal size and color.  


Manitowoc Tour - Day 8 & 9

Somehwere south of Crandon, WI to Lac Vieux Desert, WI- ~90miles

By this time, I'd learned an important lesson in bicycle touring- never, ever, EVER stop on the side of road unless you want company.  Closely examine any feature of your bicycle and somebody will offer mechanical help, look at a map and people will offer directions, lay the bike on the side of the road and duck into the woods to take a leak and MY GOD THERE'S BEEN A HORRIBLE ACCIDENT!!!  (I really need to get a kickstand).  

Anyway, one thing I find completely odd is the number of people who ask me for directions. Seriously, the last guy you want to ask for directions is the strung out touring rider with a map and GPS strapped to his handlebars.  Nonetheless, I had some guy in a minivan wave me down to ask if I knew where "Chicken In The Woods Road" was? 


Yep, I guess I heard that right. 

"Uh, no. I don't."

Although I felt I should have responded with something like "No, but the blue dog barks at midnight." just to see where it got me. 

About thirty miles later though (man, that guy was lost)....


Had another nice ride on Military Rd. that day and pressed on up US-45 to a National Forest campground right on the border of MI on Lac Vieux Desert (it's French for "big lake that stays shallow enough to wade in about 1/4 mile out from the beach"). Nice for a National Forest campground, but I gotta say- those private campgrounds spoiled me. They were all cheaper, had hot showers, and had surprisingly way better tent sites.

 Lac Vieux Desert, WI to Askel, MI- ~100 miles

 Crossed the WI/MI border early in the day.


The ride was pretty pleasent until Kenton, MI. After that, I was on the home stretch and couldn't wait to get home. Those final miles just dragged on and on.  I was half tempted to dump the bags in the bushes and come back for them with the car. 

I made it home without incident, just in time to watch the weather turn cold and rainy for the rest of the weekend. 

I'm really tempted to wax poetic here about how the whole touring thing is awesome and i had such a great time and blah, blah, blah. But really, I was kinda glad to be home and off the bike for a bit.  Although it only took a couple of days before I started planning my next stupid bike trip.  Don't touch that dial....