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.