I'm racing IOLA WORS on Sunday and then plan to spend the next couple of days working my way back to MN. In the past I've spent lots of time riding in central, western and northern Wisconsin at places like HPT Lacrosse, Blue Mounds, Wausau, Steven's Point, Levis, Cable etc. etc.. My plan is to ride 2-4 hours in the morning and repeat in the evening. My goal is to improve my handling skills and get some solid time on my mountain bikes with an eye towards preparing for a couple later series races and the Keeweenaw Chain Drive. Should I venture further south and west when I have the chance? Where would you go?
No pictures, the sideways rain and 35 degree temperatures were not conducive to carrying a camera.
Skipped today's portion due to slight knee pain (not sure if it's the "fat" q factor or that the cleat was misaligned on my right shoe...). Not worried about it going forward because I did pull the plug so preemptively early. I've got a ton of stuff coming up fast and getting a bit of extra rest certainly won't hurt either.
Everyone involved with the ride was great, things were well planned out, the riders all had great attitudes etc. etc.. I know this is the same weekend every year as Trans Iowa and the Decorah Time Trials but I highly recommend making the trip.
Hope you had a good weekend. Congrats to the Trans Iowa finishers... more of you finished % wise than finished the cat 1/2 road race here in MN (so maybe I should also be congratulating those of them who finished... way to go Brandon on another win as well!). I wish the weekend were 3 or 4 weeks long so I could have done both and the time trials. I had fun keeping track of TI updates etc. and trying to predict what would happen next etc.. Some of it was more predictable than other bits, that's for sure!
I'm still feeling the effects of last week's almost 400 miles (roughly, I commuted all week and went on 3 mountain bike rides that I didn't keep track of mileage on). The climb out of Rochester to my house is weighs heavy all afternoon. Each of the last two days I've been passed on my way home by riders going at least 2x as fast as me. I can't remember being passed on my commute.
That said, I wanted to check out Ben Witt's Pofahl, drop bar, fat bike...
My OG powertap pro (the wired version from before like 1999) also was in need of some assistance, as it now takes about 200 watts just to turn the wheel due to bad bearings that I've let go way too long. It only made sense to throw my fat bike in the car, join their ride and drop off my wheel.
Here are a couple pictures-
and one of Dickie-
Tomorrow night I'm going to ride the Caffeine a bit at Eastwood and then head to a Midnight Muse Burlesque show, so I tried to get everything ready on the Pugnago for the 180 or so miles this weekend at BALLS. Only major changes are that I added two more bottle cages, some Revelate designs bags and switched the rear shifting to friction (I just prefer it).
Been getting a lot of inquiries about what road races etc. I'm going to be in etc.. I'm going to post a bit of my schedule/plan here so that people can see it, maybe we can carpool etc..
BALLS this weekend
WORS Iola plus a couple extra days after to work on MTB handing etc.
maybe race on the road Memorial weekend (doubtful)
Keeweenaw Chain Drive (staying up through Wednesday to ride)
rest/attend a wedding
Northfield crit (may have hit a Tuesday night or two earlier to get ready for this depending on how I feel)
Iowa Gravel Championships???
2 days of road/crit on the weekend of Southside Sprints
Thoren Heuval Kermesse
MN RR Championships
Sugar Bottom Scramble
copper harbor festival, race?
gravel tour race? (not 100% on this one yet)
misc. fall gravel
full CX schedule
Iowa Spring Classics
This hasn't changed much, if at all, from what I was thinking back in December. There are a lot of events there, but racing one crit or road race a weekend and within easy driving distance will feel pretty restful this summer. I obviously want to win, but the ultimate reason I'm doing that stuff is to gain experience with race strategy, bike handling etc. while getting ready for cyclocross season. I intend to ramp up again for the fall gravel stuff and then transition to CX a bit earlier this year than I did last time around. I hope I can continue to improve my fitness etc. through the Royal and Chain Drive, rest/reset during the summer and then build to a strong fall.
Today's plan- race without working hard... try to conserve energy for end etc.. This was a last minute addition to my calendar and I wanted to go and see where I stacked up with the field, but I also knew that I'd ridden hard all week and that it might not be my 'best' race. I did feel like I had strong legs at the end of my mtb ride last night though and certainly didn't plan to get my butt kicked.
The 3/4 race was 4 laps with a couple small climbs on the back half. On the 2nd lap Joe Moyer started to pull away a bit on some rollers and I made the decision to let him go. He is a strong rider, and I knew he would be able to form a decent gap if we let him. I hoped then to be able to bridge that gap and ride with him later, but knew that if I tried right then the whole field would react.
I sat on the front and talked to Keith Bianchi and some others, refused to pull through etc.. Joe's gap got up over a minute. I was suprised no team/riders organized to start pulling him in. I continued to sit in 2nd or 3rd wheel and not really pull through, hoping for the field to break into a small group on one of the climbs on the 3rd lap. We did get a group of 7 and I worked with them. The gap was 50 seconds at the beginning of the last lap, our group stopped working well together and most of the field came together again. I stopped pulling at all and started thinking about racing for 2nd. The pace went down very very low. It was disappointing that a group hadn't formed which would allow me to sit on and pull me since I was "working" for Joe (selfishly- with the idea that it was also giving me an advantage).
Got frustrated and threw in a couple of real efforts/starts but even when I totally telegraphed it the group didn't react in time and by the time the 'fast guys' got up to me they whole field was with them. Didn't think it prudent, "right", or in sticking with my plan to give solo chase. Back to lots of sitting in. Finally, we got to the final time over the pair of hills. Down to 5 chasers who worked together. Stopped working when it became clear we wouldn't be caught, tried to save for a sprint, felt strong. Stupidly went too hard too soon on the uphill finish and two riders who stayed together came around for actual finish.
Feel like the race was an exercise in race strategy more than anything else- definitely feel I learned a few things on various levels. Mostly relearned the lessen of almost every road race- be patient, wait, take what it gives you! The two guys who beat me in that sprint had apparently been right in not joining me when I had tried to split the field earlier in the lap.
Congrats to Joe for putting the effort in to stay clear! Despite the shenanigans behind him it was a mighty impressive TT effort that he put in. It would have taken a whole group of us doing some real cooperating to even have a chance to reel him in.
Tomorrow I wake at the crack of dawn and we plan to ride that 200 mile route! Wish me luck, I'll try to bring the camera and remember to pull it out- we will be in tons of scenic river valleys etc..
Blatant plug for what I've been up to with the carbon repair-
The Diavolo I raced Saturday is one of two that I found and repaired for gravel and cyclocross use. This one is the "1" bike with the repaired top tube. The other has a repaired stay and is set up as a cyclocross bike currently.
I also rode repaired rims. They are circa 2010 Zipp 303 rims built by Ben Witt at Milltown using Sapim spokes laced to a Zipp front hub and a Reynolds rear hub (I got a good deal on the DT Swiss made Reynolds hub and sold the Zipp hub off prior to having the wheels built). Both the front and rear rim were significantly repaired- the front had a spoke pulled out of it and carbon cracking around that spoke hole, the rear had a crack along the braking surface.
The rest of the build as ridden yesterday and will continue through the Royal-
ritchey wcs cockpit plus carbon/ti devo saddle
trp euro x brakes with bontrager cork pads
7800 DA drivetrain with Sram Force 39/53 crankset and an 11-34 XT cassette
aerolite aero bars
Challenge Grifo tubulars at 38 psi
Shot of the bike again (I'll get the rest of those stickers removed when I find time, unless Zipp sends me a check in the meantime...)
This is a "home" event for me since the start is 4 miles or so from my parent's. Nice to be able to have dinner with them and to have their support at the checkpoints. Tim Werts, and Dennis Grelk stayed at their place too and it is always good to see them both. We had some great lasagne and played a bit of Kinect. Tim and I rolled down to the registration before Grelk showed up and we ran into a buch of the LCR guys. I had heard the buzz about the KOM/pot stirrer/most aggressive rider award that Larry was going to be giving out and he immediately started in on that as soon as he saw us.
I didn't want to hurt my chances in the race by being overly aggressive, but as I thought about it I wasn't so sure that chasing the rock wasn't going to mesh with what I thought my best strategy would be. I knew there were a lot of fast guys in the race, quite a few of whom were more or less endurance specialists. If I could get away from those guys early with some strong guys I hoped it would mean that I'd be able to put distance between them and myself before their advantages over me could really kick in. I figured I would try to split the group on the 3rd or 4th big climb. I assumed there would be a lot of action on the first few climbs with many people trying to earn the right to claim the rock.
The opening climb up Lehrbach was much slower than I had expected. It is a climb that I know well and the key part is having the lungs left to power over the relatively flat top and hit the descent hard. I could hear Larry's words in my head and I considered the sketchiness of the descent that followed (I remembered the race two years ago when I had been strung out behind a group after that descent and had burned myself up quite a bit right away just to stay with the group). I pulled out to the left, took a couple of hard standing pedals then settled in to a solid climbing pace, fully expecting my move to have caused all sorts of reactions.
The move was about 45 seconds before I past in the video there, there were not a lot of reactions. I had my head down and did not check until much later. At the bottom of the hill I had a large gap and chose to keep it going. The group almost closed on my near the bottom of the next large hill at mile 7? or so but I gained on the ascent and then even more on the way back down. The ragnarok course if very up and down, working in a pack is not as important as it is in many other races. Plus I knew I had a fast bike setup and aero bars. I settled in and checked the gap from time to time. My expectation was that a small group (likely the exact guys I "wanted") would eventually feel like they had to bridge up to me. I was willing to go alone if they would not and reduced the effort to something I thought I could sustain.
There was a left turn onto a "church road" upcoming... I reached a road that went that direction, but the street sign was gone. There was a yellow arrow painted on the road. I didn't want to give up my gap, I turned. I watched the group hard and made sure they followed. After confirming that they had I set back into opening up a gap over the next large hill and getting out of sight. The mileage for the next turn past, I hit pavement I wasn't supposed to hit and I knew I had to turn around.
For a moment I felt all was lost. We had gone at least 3 miles in the wrong direction! Then I realized that all of the horsepower in the race was still all together, we would get back to the front.
The group was 15-20 at that point. As we worked our way back toward the front we steadily shed riders. I tried not to work hard, I knew that I had burned extra matches already. That said, I wanted to earn that rock and I went to the front on the B road climbs. The group kept dwindling. We lost some people early who I had expected to figure in the final selection, if not for the win. Just before the checkpoint we reached the front of the race once again. We all agreed to take a few minutes at the stop, go the bathroom and refill our bottles etc.. Our group slowed a ton and we spent some time riding in a relaxed manner in a couple of river valleys. We even allowed quite a few of the chasers back on. I didn't really want to, I felt insecure about dropping them again, but the other guys up front were unworried and more or less left me no choice. The B road out of the valley was sort of anti-climactic as I was ready for an all-out attack, but it left me riding with just Krawczyk, Moore, Meiser, Peterson, Carlton and Curran.
We hit a series of long climbs south of Millville. On the first I took the front and rode a steady pace, worried that there might be an attack. At the top I realized I had attacked, it was just Brendan Moore, Brandon Krawczyk and myself. We were disorganized and allowed the group of 6 or 7 to reform. The next large hill the same thing happened again and again we had to stop and worry about directions. After that I made a point to get my maps turned over and right in my map holder. There was a really cool spot with a bridge under construction where some CX skills were needed. There was another pee stop break. I tried to spend time drafting/resting as we moved through the valleys. I knew that the next time we split it was going to be the real thing. I would have to deal with those two for the rest of the day- initially as a team, but later things would be sorted out. Racing with them for 45-50 miles intimidated me, but I knew that as long as I would ride with them even if I did a third of the work I would be putting mileage between myself and everyone else.
Finally, we got near the top of a long gradual climb and some of the race organizers were parked near the top where it kicked up a bit. We were just less than 20 miles from the final checkpoint. I could tell it was a short enough climb left that a real attack was possible without much risk. The three of us again were clear. This time I had the maps out and organized. We rotated and worked together well. I was surprised to find myself feeling comfortable working with them. I relaxed a bit with the map reading when we hit highway 63 and we went the wrong way! Another 2 mile detour and some time on 63 at 30+ mph chasing what turned out to be no one... Again, we neutralized for the checkpoint and made sure each of us found what we needed. Again, we slowed a bit leaving it and chatted etc. for a few miles. At the base of Heath's Hill I heard a loud pop and my chain was caught. I panicked, worried that I had broken my derailleur hanger and that my day would be over. Finally got things back together, knew those guys would wait for me if they realized I was back moving. Got back with them on the long descent down the other side.
We continued to work together. Brandon put in a monster pull up one of the later climbs that really opened my eyes to just how strong he was feeling. I wanted to win and felt like I was in a position where I had nothing to lose- beating either of them would be great, but I'd already done more than I had ever expected. I did think back to the Dirt Bag though and I knew that I was capable of 'stealing it' if either of them faltered. I would be incredibly happy with third though, those two are both pretty accomplished if you know what I mean!
Huneke road kicked up and Brendan put in an effort that hurt me. They were a bit confused at the turn to Orchard and I tried to point them to the right from my place 100 yards back so that they could continue without me. Their hesitation allowed me to catch on the descent. Finally we reached Lehrbach and the pace was high from the pavement on. I held on to where it really kicked up but had no response when Brendan again kicked it down. I'd watched him take off like that a few times before, but it was always in the first two hundred yards of mountain bike races...
I watched the two of them race up the hill with a huge smile on my face. My parent's, girlfriend etc. were all at the top of the hill watching me get totally destroyed but I couldn't have been happier just to be there. Brandon, true to form, sat on Brendan's wheel to the top and came around for the win at the line.
It was a great experience and I am definitely thankful to the other riders and the organizers. This years course was excellent, really cool to head that far south and get those long climbs plus the longer river valley sections.
Been feeling a little left out because I haven't prepared any elaborate, or otherwise, excuses to protect my ego when it comes to the race this weekend...
Didn't find any while we worked on the trails Monday or while riding my Pugnago.
Tuesday was no better either- just more riding, fun with friends etc..
Wednesday means group ride- perfect place to come up with something... heck, riding it could be an excuse because I'd be tired and not riding it could be an excuse because I could blame that on something! Sadly, I did a little bit of both and my excuse fell through the cranks, so to speak.
By Thursday I was getting pretty nervous- If I didn't come up with something fast I'd just have to go and do my best in the race, fully accept whatever results might come. I'd only have the solace of knowing that I'd tried my best and the knowledge that the world doesn't revolve around me. Someone else could win glory on Saturday and I wouldn't have at all diminished their performances with my whining! I decided to do what I always do when I need to think...
Ride Wheelies in water!
Didn't see any good excuses here- though I did think about the consequences of going over the bars earlier on the 45 second descent!
Still none over here (6 miles of singletrack later btw!)- That house is for sale btw in the background.
None on the other side of the hills
Tall mike came along too- his excuse is that he is 7' tall!
Around the other side, dropping the Tall guy by enough to take the picture maybe had the makings of an excuse.
In the end we didn't find what we were looking for. We were only reminded that riding mountain bikes is fun. I don't usually bring a camera and figured tonight would be a good time to do so... hope you like the photos. On the sportsmanship/excuses thing... I decided excuses are bad sportsmanship, PERIOD. Giving one is only to diminish your competitor and yourself.