I was previously wrong to say fatbikes aren't ideal for commuting. I stand by the fact that my 700x42 nokians are better in the slushy mix left behind by cars, but I was also clearly wrong and it's obvious to me now.
I work in the tallest building WAY down there in some of those pictures.
Riding from Fat Willy's at 9 am each day. Routes are as below:
Day 1: This is a link as wellfood/rest potential at mile 27 (Chatfield), 49 (Dover Road Trip bar and grille), 56 (Kwik Trip) and Fat Willy's at 71. I'm thinking gas station at 27, soup at 49 Many ways to shortcut home if needed. This has some real climbing in the middle.
Day 2: LinkBombing through the city for first 10 or so, THE HUDDLE at mile 39ish, Kwik Trip in Eyota at 52, Fat Willy's at the end. I plan on lunch at Huddle, Lunch at Fat Willy's.
Hope to see you. There are some spots left to stay at my house overnight Saturday. I'm assuming many will make one day or the other. Locals feel free to meet up en route or cut off early etc..
I had some nasty symptoms and some nagging symptoms. I wasn't able to ride much for a really long time. I couldn't even ride to work, but was still trying to race cyclocross. I would get a ride to work from Kim with my bike on the roof and just hope that after work I'd feel well enough to ride it home... but then be forced to call for a ride after spending hours on the toilet. And this all took place right in the middle of my favorite part of my racing calendar. Over the last two months I've been tested for everything from a thyroid disorder to ulcerative colitis to HIV. They tested my heart. I told them that if my heart was degenerating fast enough that it could explain my symptoms that they may as well not test it, that I was going to die... they insisted.
They never found anything. At this point I'm done with it. I've said that a through times throughout this process. Tried to flip a switch mentally and just GET BETTER, but this time I am done. My stomach has calmed down to a great degree. I've been able to ride the last two days with a more or less linear relationship between my effort level and how my body feels.
So, I am making some diet changes in hopes of fixing some health issues that have come up this fall. Not sure yet what is going on, but I've had some symptoms that may be affecting my bike racing and some symptoms that are definitely affecting my quality of life in general. I won't go into more details for now since the point is just that I plan on trying a stripped down, home made only diet here for while. Yesterday was day one of that effort and ironically? it didn't go very well.
Quinoa has been brought to everyone's attention the last few years as something healthy people 'in the know' are eating. I've been eating it here and there for a while and usually in relatively small quantities. I plan, at least initially here, to cut out wheat from my diet and figured a quinoa based stir-fry might be a good dish to try.
It turned out really good too! I ate a small portion for lunch then headed to a doctors appointment before going into work. I had a bit of a rumble in my stomach at the doctors, nothing new as it's the whole reason I was there anyways, and basically ignored it. Around 6 I got hungry and ate a larger portion for dinner...
Around 6:45 I had a bad headache. At 7 I was dizzy and my head was pounding to the point of keeping me from getting anything done. By 7:40 I was laying down in a dark conference room at work trying to figure out how not to throw up while also somehow getting home.
I forced myself to drive home at 8 which cost me 3+ hours of PTO. As soon as I got into my house I laid down on the bed in a fetal position and slept. Around 1:30 am I felt a tiny bit better and finally felt able to lift up my head. I googled a bit and realized I was having a somewhat common issue with the quinoa. A reaction to a toxin called saponin that is naturally present. I had rinsed it briefly in water (per the instructions on the container- fwiw this was the red quinoa from trader joe's). I obviously had not done enough, nor had I been aware of any danger. I won't be eating any quinoa in the future, I guess.
I'm resting. Had to DNS Sunday, should have DNS'd the entire week last week. After a TIRED weekend down in STL (best finish was a 4th in SS) I was looking for answers. Two were possible, one was that I've done too much... that the combination of life and training had equaled too much. The other option was that I needed to buckle down harder, that maybe the flu shot had hurt me or something else?
I rode every day and I tried to ride hard. I felt off, but I knew I had Friday to rest. My legs just didn't come around.
It became clear I may as well not even be racing pretty quickly Saturday. I had to quit, had to start reversing my mistake.
I refuse to use being a parent as an excuse. Or the new house and the work that is going along with it. Or the stress at work. None of that is a reason to ride poorly, it's simply that I need to do a better job of analyzing where I am at and rest when that's what I need. Looking back now I've been on the absolute ragged edge since late September. I look at my diary and there were commutes at least once a week where I had a hard time getting home. I needed a full stop. I took some prior to the Filthy 50 since I had a 13 day window with no CX, but it's been far too long since then without real recovery. At the same time I was riding less than I rode last year, or in the spring, or etc... but the point is that is only half or a third of the equation. I had it in my head that I could take a bunch of rest before the season and then push and push. I had a schedule with built in breaks but then when the breaks came I didn't take them.
Next year I will do a better job of balancing this stuff- it's new to me not to sleep 10 hours on my 'off' training days. It's new that I have to not to something else in order to find time to work on my bikes. I'll adapt.
This week I'm not throwing my leg over a bike until Thursday or Friday. Maybe then I'll hop on the Pugnago and just cruise around. I'll race one day this weekend only if I start feeling great- great like I haven't felt since Wednesday the week after Trek CXC. Otherwise I'll be letting it roll all the way into Jinglecross. I'll be ready for Jinglecross.
I somehow skipped blogging about a bunch of early season CX races.
The 2/3 race at trek cxc was super fun. I had solid rides both days and finished around 10th despite going in with a pretty nasty head cold that had even required taking time off from work Thursday and Friday. The course was one that suited me pretty well and the temperatures stayed down just enough for me to ride solidly.
The next few weeks after that, really all the way up to the Filthy 50 I battled the clock trying to squeeze in house work, unpacking, turning my garage into a shop, training etc. way too much vs. being ready to race. This was ok as I was viewing it as the beginning of my training for the fall. My season this year falls into 4 blocks of CX races with the rest period between blocks one and two being the Filthy 50 weekend. I wanted to be as fast as possible early, but last year I feel I ran out of steam late and wasn't able to capitalize on my bike handling skills as much as I wanted to when it got muddy and snowy late. A longer view for this year, then.
Metal Cross was a total disaster for me. Crazy mechanicals the first day took me out of both the SS and the 1/2 race and then the temperature soared and I rode crappy on day 2.
Next was the Baker Orchard race. I didn't go in with high expectations because my legs had been leaden all week but was bailed out by the weather. The muddy conditions and relatively flat course put alot of emphasis on skills I do have and not on fitness that maybe wasn't there. I was pleased to finish 7th with a strong field.
I headed to Green Acres on a bit of a high after winning on the road during my rest week. Green Acres is a course I really enjoy and the conditions were looking excellent with cold temperatures and a bit of rain. Saturday race started out solidly and I came back down the hill in the top 6 or 8 but then I had stupid problem with my chain and frustration with my new shoes and found myself out of it physically and mentally very early on. I chose to ride on at a fun pace and get some practice riding the course but then to pull out prior to being lapped, already had an eye on Sunday.
Sunday's course was a bit of a change-up with some awesome singletrack downhill sections and an even steeper muddy climb that I could just barely ride. The race started well but this time a rider right in front of me crashed at the top of the first hill and the lead pack of 6 was gone from the start. I pressed a bit too much to get back into it and went head first into a tree too! By the time I got things sorted out I was 60+ seconds behind after just a lap and no where near where I wanted to be. I caught and passed one rider each lap for a while. Finally getting close to Fred...
Well, not close to him there yet at all. He and Dominic both weren't caught up in that early crash.
There close to him and closing...
When I caught Fred he just took off! but I caught him again and then we made like 5 laps like this...
Getting in a little duel with Fred was pretty fun. Obviously we like to compete with each other, but we are also friendly enough that more things go than with most other riders. What I mean, is that we were both really enjoying feeling each other out and sort of screwing with each other where if it had been someone else we might have played it a bit closer to the vest? Anyways, I won this battle because of the lesson I learned last year at the same venue. I may also have set Fred up a bit by dogging it up the hill with two and three laps to go because when I had the lungs to keep it pinned up top after riding the hill on the last lap I was able to open up almost 30 seconds between there and the finish. I finished 7th against what was probably the strongest non-state chamionship field I think I've seen in MN. Sort of interestingly Dominic was right in front of me for the second year in a row at Green Acres, maybe next year I will beat him there. Trevor dominated the 35+ field both days! They started 30 seconds behind the 1/2 field but he was easily top 10 overall despite the handicap both days and wasn't too far from catching me Sunday. Always good to see him racing CX after the long WORS season. I thought these pictures of us were funny right after the race...
First, awesome to see so many people show up for this event. It was very well run, organized, planned etc.. I'll be back next year if it fits my schedule at all! Hope to see some more of these racers at next years Dickie Scramble. Here is my overly detailed racey race report.
Twenty miles in and we were caught and I was tired.
My goal and plan had been to get off the front solo, which had failed despite 3 real efforts to do so and some great help from Rochester teammates. I'd only succeeded in gaining two man moves- first from mile 3 to 6 or so and then again from mile 13 to 20ish. It was disappointing I hadn't gotten further clear. I knew Franz had done what he could for me and it was appreciated. The group that had caught up was very strong. They were the reason I had planned and hoped to go solo. I didn't like my odds against any of them late in the race heads up and they were all there yet but one (Nick). My failed gamble had been that if I went before the group broke up I might gain more time than anyone was expecting. There was little left to do but take my turns at the front and avoid being dropped. The group was friendly and worked well together for the next 20 miles as we all anticipated getting back out of the valley.
On Nature rd Dominic attacked and he and Pat gained a gap. I sat back knowing the false flat would give time to pull things back together, which was true. Wow, was I ever thankful we did not go up Oriole! I noted that Pat's teammate Adam did take a couple turns with me to get us both back on term. At that point we were over the only large bump and there were about 18 miles to the finish. Surprisingly, with so far to go, the attacks, games, strategy started immediately.
Pat and Dominic appeared much stronger than Adam and I and Pat wanted clear. I was dropped multiple times over the next couple of miles but always came back after the move was covered. Simply unable to respond to either of their digs I was resigned to not even trying but instead staying steady and hoping. Adam didn't appear to be doing much better either. At one point Adam and I were 25 or 30 seconds back riding side by side both thinking that we were beat. Once we were back on the other two were marking each other so hard that Adam and I both slipped clear, but I wasn't on terms with Adam and I needed to eat so I went back to the other two. Adam opened up a 45-60 second gap as Dominic realized that for different reasons neither Pat nor I would really do any work. Over the next few miles Dominic put in a really strong effort and I did eventually take a couple of pulls. I started to see that if we caught Adam he might be the only one of the three I could beat and as such I wanted to keep the gap reasonable. Then again, when we caught him the whole thing would break open and I would probably be dropped, so no need to catch until the end.
At 3.5 miles to go nothing had changed for quite a while and Adam had 26 seconds. I was hoping for a sprint.
At 3.2 miles to go we crossed hwy 30 and Dominic slowed and moved left marked by Pat. They seemed to stop. I was alone on the right side of the road and I must have had a hundred plus meters before they even reacted. I was very very tired, constantly looking under my armpit for the next mile. I wondered what had happened, how could they not be coming after me? The gap was so big so fast, it felt like a gift.
Meanwhile Adam was 15-20 seconds ahead of me and I had no idea how he was feeling or if I could catch him solo but then he blew the last corner...
2 miles to go I was leading, riding 24+ mph down a gravel road I know well. It was the solo ending I had hoped for.
It happened so fast I didn't even know what to think. Again, like a gift. Luck. Wow!
Pat beat Dominic in a contested sprint. Rochester teammates had solid rides in 5th and 6th. Monika came in with a strong 11th on a flat tire. Everyone seemed happy. I won 12 pork chops...
The other thing of note...
Which was the right choice. The frame and both wheels are cyclocarbon repairs. I won't get into my thoughts on 'gravel bikes' any more than this... expect to either see my on this setup or my tarmac with the same wheels and 27s. I mostly went with this bike here because I was too lazy to change handlebars so I could run aero bars on the Tarmac at this time of the year.
On Wednesday night you drove out of Rochester with two kittens. You had probably been trying to give them away for a few weeks. You knew that they were your responsibility since you had been irresponsible enough not to spay your pet.
I know this because Thursday morning when I woke up they were high in my trees, scared out of their minds. They came down to see me with some coaxing. The two of them were inseparable. They followed me as I went about my outdoor chores and work. Here they are-
I gave them food and water, starting trying to find a home willing to take them. They were so friendly to me, happy to follow all over through the woods. They always stayed close.
Sometime late last night the the one on the left was caught on the ground, spooked, chased and killed. Most likely it was one of the neighbors dogs. Really, it was you. These were indoor cats that obviously had not learned to hunt, protect or defend themselves. Is that the ending you had envisioned when you drove down my gravel road? When you were too much of a coward to take care of her or even to have her put down? What did you expect?
Of course the blame doesn't end there. Paws and Claws... did they call you and ask if you had room for these cats? I don't know, but you would have been condescending and scoffed at the notion. You would have acted like whoever was calling was an ignorant jerk who had let their animals breed. They should have known you were too busy and full to help them solve the problem they had created. I know this because this was the attitude you gave me when I called you today. You raised millions in Rochester recently for your new building and yet you cop an attitude when someone needs you? What are your priorities? Full or not, finding home for many animals or not... you need to realize the consequences of having an attitude. You are the largest and most known shelter. You are who people call. If you simply turn them away and with an attitude that makes them feel hopeless... what do you expect them to do?
Lanier parking put those in the 3rd St. ramp last week. I'd noticed the "bikespot" logo and the pump previously and thought it was a bit odd. I mean it was just a sign on the wall and a couple tools. Then one day I was on my way to the same bike rack I've been using for years...
The same one I've been complaining about fighting for space, the danger of theft, my light being stolen, the parking lot security car being parked in the way of, the stupid pink 'curb cancer' garbage cans infringing upon, my friends bikes being stolen etc.. On this night, I looked to the right and saw something different. At first I wasn't sure what they were, but as I walked down the ramp and they became clearer I got really, really excited. I had to have one.
On Monday I put down the $5 a month for the remainder of this years billing cycle. I was able to ride my CX bike yesterday and go on a lunch hour training ride. I have a place to leave my shoes so I can wear my cycling shoes to work then change. A place to let my clothes dry while I'm at work. All that stuff is nice but it's the overall impact that can't be understated, it's like in a driving simulator video game... I've been driving the civic they make you drive initially and this locker has unlocked the supercars. No longer do I have to ride what sort of works but also probably won't get stolen or wrecked in the rack. I can't remember any single event ever increasing more how excited I was to ride my bikes.
I realize a lot of this stuff is old hat to many people, especially those from 'progressive' Minneapolis, Des Moines, Iowa City, Madison, Duluth, really anywhere but Rochester. In fact, most of my readers probably assume that my employer would have long provided it's employees with 'secure' places to put bikes, places to change near where they work etc. etc..
I sat in the parking lot and waited. After a while it became "we". Eventually more arrived and we had a few beers. Some of us went inside the Casino/Hotel and showered only to wander back out. It got late and everyone was hungry so we finished our beers and headed to the buffet...
We walked in the doors to employees putting up the closed signs. "Water on the floor of the kitchen". We would later find out that the water was sewage back-up, and for the 3rd time this year alone. Can you imagine working in a restaurant where sewage regularly backs up onto your floor? We learned that the nearest other food option was 18 miles away. Everyone had just ridden to Grand Portage from Grand Marais with thoughts of buffet, all you can eat crab legs, ice cream etc.. What did we do?
We descended upon the 'trading post'/gas station like Vikings pillaging. Creating a potluck to be proud of despite the 3.2 beer. That is what the gravel conspiracy is all about.
For me it's also a race and a training camp. It marks the end of the heat and the beginning of fall. I knew it would be cool and that I wanted to use it as a goal to encourage me to pile on the suffery miles in the heat during the summer. As a chance to get some confidence back in my legs. To get a hint of some form that never quite shows even on the cooler days of the summer. This year I had not ridden nearly as much in August, nor had I ridden well in July and I wasn't sure what to expect. I'll be honest that more than one of the other riders had me worried. They had been piling up great results all summer while I snuck in rides after dark. My plan or strategy was to ride the first day very hard. I knew I could ride hard for 37 miles after the road first turned up off of highway 61, but had no idea how I would fare on the longer days. Riding those 37 miles hard was something that I could control.
Maybe it had been a little too long since I felt like I had control of anything riding my bike. It truly has been frustrating this summer. I remember having so much excitement over my form in spring but had completely lost any connection to that feeling by late June and felt like a different person altogether by August. I put my head down and rode those 37 miles with some rhythm and it was damn fun. The route climbed up and up away from the lake and then traversed beautiful terrain. The roads just windy and technical enough to keep me honest but always begging for more pedaling and less brakes. Those 37 miles took me about 1:57.
The next two stages were much the same. Long, long but wonderful climbs, seriously rugged roads strewn with rocks and puddles, some fast open gravel descents. Each stage following it's own way but generally fitting the pattern of a slow undulating climb to the midpoint far up and away from the lake and then a meandering back down. Time to get completely lost. I tried to explain to Josh what is so great about this. How it's even better than just riding alone because I don't have to think at the event. I just follow the purple line and lose everything else. No need to think about where to turn, where water might be next etc.. No need to worry about using too much energy and not finding food. Knowing just that I have to follow that line and that I can watch the miles count down and at the same time push my riding to so that when the miles say zero so do my legs.
The group was awesome. Everyone seemed to be loving the ride and hanging out together after each day's ride. Not much could have made it a better weekend.
We have room for at least two kids, the dog and two bikes for a weekend now... all the while with 30+ mpg.
It was nice when I took that picture but it was HOT in Sheboygan when we got there. Like, mid to high 80s with a ton of humidity. Stuffed my pockets with ice and pre-rode to find that it was also super bumpy. My Flash was in the pit and I made the decision to switch to it for the race. A little weird being the only mountain bike on the line but when I was leading after a full lap, which was incredibly unexpected, I figured it had been the right choice. Of course I faded and suffered in the heat but I was determined to find a pace that I could finish the hour race at and to do so. Wound up 8th. Overall pretty good.
Didn't stick around too long, had to get some fluids and head down to pre-ride WORS in Lake Geneva. Probably should have skipped the pre-ride and instead got better recover food and fluids plus some rest. As it was it was 9:45 before I was straight up raiding this place...
wondering why the gas station was spelling out how to steal their gas?
In the dark Saturday night the WORS course seemed pretty straightforward. In the context of the race I was all over the place from the start. My legs were just heavy and I pushed too hard to force a typical start out of them rather than just going with it. It took me at least 45 minutes into the race before I got into any kind of a rhythm and started to find spots to breathe out there. At that point I was back in around 30th and I was able to work my way up bit by bit the rest of the race. Wound up 22nd but quite far back time wise. Didn't think I had expectations other than getting a good effort in leading up to CX but can't help but want to be a bit closer to the front. Probably a good thing, as it will give me some motivation heading to next season. It was certainly fun to do a bit more mountain biking this year than the last couple and I expect to continue that next year as well.
It's been too hot for me. Skipped the WORS race last weekend when I saw the weather. In my 'plan' it was supposed to be the start of my fall season. Instead stayed home and dug trenches all over the damn place. Sometimes with this beast...
a lot of the time by hand.
We are turning our three car garage into a finished and heated space for me to work on bikes, cars and carbon repairs. This means running hundred of feet of new electrical service to the house and garage, gas to the garage, water to the garage, cable (for TV) to the garage. Kim's Dad found some great cabinetry out of someone's kitchen that even includes an island (workstation!) and Trevor is helping out with the gas stuff and with a great price on a heater. When it all gets done it's going to be incredible.
Work has also begun on what I've decided to call "Wilson World"... which will be .5-.7 miles of trail literally in my backyard. A lot of the woods on the back half our property are pretty open and will be easy to route though... but the crux of the project was freeing the entire perimeter of the property. The back of which was a dense thicket of sumac trees which took 3-4 hours to chop though. My best estimate is 150-200 silly little trees laid to waste by my axe. Not sure when I will have time to work on this in the near future as there are a lot of higher priorities, but I can see it being valuable and awesome once completed.
I've also been working on this... which is basically going to be a super fun, low key cx race followed by a do or die world championship level crossathlon. You will want to be there. If things go well with the above there may even by more crossathlon afterwards back at Wilson World.
Finally, the Colesburg 40. Glad I went. It wasn't on my calendar until it got so hot and I missed WORS, but I wasn't liking the idea of heading to the 'big' cx race in Madison next month without a couple of races under my belt this 'season'. I showed up a bit tired (see the above, particularly the axe work Saturday and Sunday) but with a general feeling of 'belief' that I haven't felt since early June. $20 entry fee and there was a $20 prize for the KOM at the top of the first climb. I appreciated the symmetry but wasn't feeling like being real active until we got about 2 miles into the gradual climb and my legs woke up. Hit the next steeper ramp pretty hard and got a gap then blew a little bit and knew the group would catch up but rested a touch as they did and went again uncontested for the $20. We immediately turned down a B road that was full bore crazy. Kevin McConnel was in front bunny hopping washouts at 25 mph and we were gapping the rest of the field pretty quick until I took a bad line and went offroad entirely. I fell back after putting my foot down and waddling back to the road and wound up falling back with a chase group after a brief solo chase, did too much work and caught Kevin too early (or maybe no amount of time out solo would have made him fallible). Anyways, it was just the two of us for a bit with Cochran on our heals and than one of Kevin's teammates caught up and they were able to spring themselves on the largest climb. This was partly aided by my front derailleur cable breaking and taking away my big ring, but I was toast either way. Luckily I had enough left to ride ahead of Cochran to the line. This was the hardest 43 miles of 'gravel' I can remember unless you count the last 43 miles of something like the Royal. I hope to be back next year.
"It's like riding a bike" pretty much covers it, no?
Golf usually makes most lists of lifetime sports as well. A few days ago my Dad turned 70. My gift to him was a round of golf. My parents picked up golf about 30 years ago and continue to play a lot, usually more than once a week. They are both really, seriously, good. Dad shoots right around par from the whites with mom not far behind from the red tees. They've both always been good but my mom in particular seems to be playing some of the best golf I can remember. In no way has age slowed them down or affected the way they golf, beyond that they now do usually ride in a cart. Even that is forced more by Mom's previous sports injuries than by age per se.
I 'used' to golf, the way I ride bikes now. I learned how to play from Dad and have played thousands of rounds with him over the years. That said, I have only averaged 3-4 rounds a year with literally no practicing over the last 5.
After a couple of holes on Dad's birthday we were both under par. Recently when we play we've made a game where we play match play on the back 9 with a handicap based on our relative scores on the front. The match was close. We both hit great shots that worked out and some that didn't, rolled in some birdie putts. I got robbed on 14 when the green didn't accept the shot as I expected with a pitching wedge and fell 2 down in the match, but responded with a birdie on the 15th. The 17th was a 170 yard par 3 and I was one down with two to go and the honors. I hit a decent shot to the middle of the green then 70 year old dad hit it to 1". We didn't play 18. Instead, we skipped back to number 3 and played 3-9 again because we were having so much fun.
Does cycling match up to that definition of 'lifetime sport'? As much as I want it to I don't know if I see it.
Posting this quick... it's not a new idea but this aluminum cargo rack is on sale at Menards right now and maybe someone else wants to build one while that is going on too.
Those fork mounts need different skewers, but once I run to the hardware store and get what I need it will run 100 and 135mm spacing forks just fine. They bolt right to the rack with $5 in bolts. I happen to have a couple extra ones that I'd pass on for some beer.... Let me know.
Wonder how it will fit with 29XXX tires?
Edit- added shot of the roof rack as well. Will get a close up of the very DIY 'foot' setup used to mount to the factory rails.
I have heard about these events for a couple of years and was excited that it was going to be in my neighborhood. I knew it was all about having a good time, plus it was going to fit right into my 'offseason' between spring and cyclocross. I figured I'd go and ride a funky bike and party it up. Then I got a sinus infection and screwed up all of July, moved my schedule around a bit training wise and am beginning to feel antsy to race hard. Still, ten days ago my plan was to ride the Pugnago in a Raoul Duke costume and just take it totally easy. Then as the time approached a few people on my facebook kept posting stuff about thow they were excited for the race aspect of this thing and had been training. I looked at my already SS Flash (that has been SS all month in preparation of SSCX) and couldn't make my mind up about what to do. Never got the costume organized, eventually wound up waffling between riding that bike and my drop bar, rigid, 26" marin (which is also my SSCX bike). The morning of the event I had two bikes in my truck with two totally different attitudes to go with them. I know I was overthinking things!
At the venue I hopped on the 26" bike and the rear tire went flat. Decided that was the bike god's way of telling me to step up and race. It was a blur of talking to friends and some foes at the start line and then we were off on way too long of a run to our bikes. I was second into the singletrack with no one in sight in either direction. Eventually one rider would run past me on the way up the bluff for the first time which would put my alone in third where I would sit alone for quite a while. It isn't clear who actually "won" the XC race portion of this thing, but it is clear who deserved to win and that was Jesse L. He was the first rider into the singletrack and he was gone. That said, I believe both he and the other rider who had gotten a bit ahead of me early (although never more than 30 seconds up) made wrong turns at some point. A group of 5 very strong riders caught up to me and I rode with them as people split off forward and back based on the strengths of the gearing etc.. My gear was steep in the new singletrack but I was having a great time riding. Then about 2/3 of the way through the 35 miles I just wasn't anymore. I got a little bit hot, it got a little too hilly for my 40x20, my friends sitting around drinking beer at the aid stations trying to hand me beer all got too enticing. Mentally I just wanted to relax and have a good time and so I did. I wish I could have stayed longer and gone out on the town, but my dog was home alone and I had to go before I could no longer drive.
It was a good day. However, the overall, curated?, vibe of what I saw of this thing was something I just can't get my mind or my words totally around. I'll just leave it at that.
As many of you know I've been riding THIS 1999 Trek 720 a whole lot for a few years now. Kim has an awesome fargo (more on that build sometime soon), a nice full squish Santa Cruz and a 9zero7 fatbike. We moved into our new place "out" in the country at the beginning of the month (more on that soon too) and she thought it might be nice to have something faster than the fargo that would work for our 10 mile mixed-surface commute. I started half-assed looking for a carbon road bike in her size to repair. Half-assed because it seems like 90% of all broken bikes are 56 cm, which I can't complain about because then they all fit me, but which does mean finding a 48 or 50cm is a tall order. Then I saw a craigslist advertisement for a 51cm 1982 Trek 400 at $150. Emailed the guy right away and wound up heading home with a bone-stock bike for $120 that evening.
We wanted to build it up for years or reliable use as cheaply but solidly as possible. This wasn't going to be a gravel 'mutt' or a 'parts-bin' bike or whatever (although you might call it both), it was going to be her bike that we both hoped would serve her as well as my beloved 720. In the end we did use many parts that I had laying around, spending just an additional $175 out of pocket including the $95 shifters. If I were to try to charge her for the inter-familial parts-swapping a la Dayton's failed tax plan maybe the total actual value investment would have been closer to $450.
The stock wheel size was 27". We were able to swap to 700c wheels without any modifications whatsoever with the adjustment given by the brakes. I also swapped to modern pad holders and pads just to improve braking/ease.
The bars that came on the bike were seriously, seriously long reach and got swapped right away (along with the too-long for her stem).
Stock seatpost/saddle were insanely heavy and were swapped for more adjustability.
Entire drivetrain was swapped to modern 10 speed. I had to 'cold-set' the rear spacing to 130, but now all of my, dozens?, or road wheelsets are useable on this bike.
The whole package worked out pretty well. Only real 'issue' currently is that there is no way with the modern 10 speed brake/shifters (microshift branded) and the vintage brakes to 'open' the brakes for wheel removal. With the 700x30 tires on it currently you can only install or remove the wheels with a flatted tire. This could be solved in the future in a variety of ways, or just let be.
51cm Trek 400 frame/fork
stock brakeset with upgraded pads/holders
700c bontrager SSR wheelset
700x30 Challenge Almanzo tires
PZ Racing compact crankset
microshift 10 speed shifters/brake levers
shimano 6600 cassette (12-25)
wtb speed she saddle
vintage ITM stem
3T short reach/drop ergo bars
We've been out on a couple or rides already totalling about 40 miles. She seems very happy with it both on pavement and off.
Rode up the gravel hill to the upper parking lot to find a white s10, a teenage girl looking like she just woke up and a boy in camo. Nodded, said hello. Noted the sheepish grin on the girls face. Figured I had maybe just missed something which I was glad I had missed. I turned and continued up the road past the gate. Noticed a newspaper on a tree but did not think much of it. Cleaned the tough climb, remembering how hard it used to be, enjoyed most of a lap. Then boom!
Real BOOM. I'm familiar with gun fire. I'm not a sportsman but I've spent some time shooting and gone hunting more than a few times with friends. This was way loud, and close. I stopped, listened, scanned the forest. It had been so close that the words "warning shot" crossed my mind. Straddled my bike and waited. BOOM. The same as the first. BOOM again. I thought while I scanned the woods, the shooter had to be so close. What were the shooting at? How close were the shots? BOOM. Decision, I called out and walked the 40 or 50 steps up to the main road. I was now about 100 yards up the road (above the aforementioned gate). The same access road used by people on horseback, walking their dog. The one I had countless times come down on my bike to leave the trails. The one that my friend's kids, families, pets etc. all use. The tree with the paper on it was just to my right and there were now two cars, two more boys down by the truck now with a military style rifle steadied on the tonneau cover. It was aimed up the hill towards that tree, and me.
I went straight down that hill and explained my point of view. Took a couple of pictures.
Called 911. They had lots of questions for me. I must have answered them wrong because 70 minutes later nothing had happened, I called back. The operator said, "It is legal for them to be shooting on that land"... Yes, I knew this, hadn't I explained to you that they were doing so in an unsafe manner and also hadn't I called 911? Doesn't that merit a response? Even if you are telling me my call was frivolous doesn't every 911 call merit a response? I, and this is embarassing as well as recorded somewhere, somewhat lost it with the operator. She told me that her supervisor would call me (which has not yet happened). Eventually an officer came, I spoke to him. He hadn't been told anything other than that I was complaining they were shooting. Explained that they were shooting uphill, with an upward trajectory and into a multi-use area. He investigated? I went to work. I haven't heard anything more. I have felt awful since. I don't know how to reconcile the complete disregard/disinterest shown mainly by the 911 operator with my fear of getting shot while riding my bike.
I think tomorrow I will go back and finish my ride. Perhaps by doing so I can get the pit in my stomach to go away. I do not think I'll ever ride directly down the upper part of that road again.
That was how I felt at first when I got up there. Stupid crank issue on the Flash Carbon meant I was stuck on the fatbike... didn't take much riding before I changed that mindset. Pulled the Marge Lites/Husker Du combo off of Kim's 9 zero 7 instead of my wider/heavier rims. Didn't take long before I forgot I was on a 'fat' bike and was simply enjoying myself. Riding the Red Trail and The Flow at speed on that bike was incredibly fun. I've always been confident in my carbon construction process etc., but when you are heading down the Red Trail at 28 mph over it makes things real.
Sorry, for the total lack of pictures from most of the good parts of the trails, no stopping... pictures lean heavily towards places it seems natural to stop!
After I managed to fix the 'good' bike I was almost reluctant to take it up for a ride due to all the fun I'd been having on the Pugnago. When I hit the bottom of Stairway to Heaven on the 16 lb SS it felt pretty natural though too. !
Can't really see not owning both. Now I just need a full squish enduro type thing...
More pictures later as well from this trip and some other news.
Adventure Mine trails are techy! We both struggled with the wet roots, rocks and steep climbs. I haven't felt that out of place on a mountain bike for years. Would be a really fun place to ride if it were a little less wet and also probably with gears (I was riding 40x18 which is just not ideal there). Here is Kim on a really fun descent from the mountain top above the mine.
After this ride I realized that my crank on the Flash Carbon was moving in the spindle and my chainring was sometimes contacting the stay... wtf. Tried to get this fixed at the shop in Houghton but to no avail. Eventually I sorted it out with parts from my own tool box and was able to ride Copper Harbor on that bike.
After lunch we headed north of Houghton to the town of Gay. Here are a bunch of pictures from our ride there...
Pretty much fatbike paradise. There should be some sort of group ride/race/party/camping trip out there. If it were any closer to my house I would make it happen.