Monday, September 6, 2010


Well a lot has happened since the last post. The Wednesday night ride has become a staple, and then receded into the past. After leaving the country for the first time, I have a skewed and renewed vigor for random tidbits for life.
After leaving for Mexico, I was excited for my future. I couldn't imagine a world outside the country I had known. What I saw blew me away. If you are an American (from the USA, you will not be surprised) and travel to Cancun, Mexico, you will find what you are looking for. Hell let me put it this way. If I were going there to get completely wasted (a la Iowa City-tailgating style), I would be disappointed.

While the "luxurious" amenities abounded, I was significantly disinterested. I met some sweet people, but could not imagine a more watered down experience. Was it not a fabulous honeymoon? Of course it was. Emily and I experienced gorgeous views, beautiful seas and magnificent beaches in the company of our one true love. We were in heaven. Anything we wanted to eat or drink for 10 days, while in the company of the only individual on the planet that was significant.

So compared to Brazil, what did I experience? Everything. The beautiful people of the country emblazoned my memory with imagery that I cannot begin to describe. The love, care, and emotion with which they displayed their passion for their homeland left little to question, and much to be desired. I can only begin to describe the experience in picture rather than words.

I apologize as I struggle to find purchase on what my blog has come to be, but I have struggled to describe my personal experiences over the past couple of months as I see them now. I would say that things have changed drastically, but they haven't.

I haven't stagnated. I have advanced. I have raced. I have biked. I have loved. I have been overly corny. I have been a poor husband. I have grown as a human being. To say that I have done anything other than stagnated would be a travesty.

I apologize for being dramatic previously, and continuously. I was in a weird place, and quite honestly still am. This whole season has left me humbled on the bike and in my learning environment. Some might think that to be a weird statement, but I will leave you with this. Try walking in someone else shoes for a minute. It might throw you off for a while.
On to Gnomefest. If you don't know what it is. Listen up, learn yourself somethin'. Get to the 'Scons, and live a little. I'll be back soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stagnate or Advance?

I have been pretty flat since returning from vacation. After a wedding, the end of my semester (during which time I spent three decent weeks on the bike) I have been ultimately flat since my vacation. I don't even know where to start. Well I do, but I am lacking motivation.

A garage full of bikes. A body ready (but questioningly able).

I need some kind of rebound. I am ready to throw in the towel, but last season lingers in my brain. I overcame stupidity last year. This season brings struggles due to life decisions.

Where do I start? A long road to travel any way I slice it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iola Bump and Jump Race Report

Well one week before my wedding and I knew I needed to get to one last bachelor race before marriage. Luckily instead of having to drive completely hungover up to Iola on my own, Kevin from the shop decided to head up there with me. He just purchased a brand new car and an awesome roof rack so he was definitely looking for an excuse to use it (and to lay the smack down on my hungover butt.)

We met up at 6:30am to make the 5 hour drive up to Iola, Wisconsin. Little did I realize that I had basically made this drive before for Gnomefest Quattro. We chatted and listened to some good tunes, peed one too many times and snacked on some good foods on the way up. We stopped in Steven's Point just down the road from Iola to grab some sandwiches before the race. We ran into the Eppen's who were doing the exact same thing.

I tried to cram some sandwich down and some chips which worked ok. I was still feeling my bachelor party from Friday night. Needless to say I enjoyed the evening and was home in bed by 11:30pm (I was lit beyond belief). We got to the venue and not to our surprise it was packed. There were countless cars everywhere. Right when we got there the Sport race was going off and the line of racers was longer than any I have ever seen. There were probably 250-300 people racing sport. Insane.

We got registered and perused what little of the course we could. With the races being so large, you cannot pre-ride the day of the race, so we checked it out what little we could. It was time to get ready so we suited up after finding Kyle and Robin and pre-rode a little bit. We thought we were going to nab a good starting position by getting to the line early, but it seemed that everyone else was there 10 minutes early.

We lined up somewhere in the 50-60's of our field. We didn't know at the time, but our field was 94 deep. Talk about nerve wracking. National anthem, waiting, call-ups not in that particular order. Then go time. With 50 people in front of you, you have time to make sure you don't slip a pedal or do anything stupid, unfortunately, it is the people hurrying in front of you you have to worry about. Two guys got a little tangled in front of me so I had to clip out. Not a lot of momentum lost and I cranked as hard as I could up the start hill.

The beginning of the race is really open and all doubletrack. There are some wicked steep climbs which were going to take there toll later in the race. I kept the pedal down, but on the open sections just wasn't feeling it. I made it through lap one unscathed and had moved up a little ways.

Lap two went on without a hitch until the end. Riding behind a 29er crew racer out of a singletrack section into a clearing, he took a really inside line near some course markers. I was gassing pretty hard and not paying as close attention as I should have. Totally being my fault I rode too far inside and smoked a pole. Nothing serious and no crash, but I came to a complete stop and had to rally to catch back onto the group after the opening climb.

I caught back on, but the damage was done for lap 3. I had to back off at the beginning of lap 4. So did everyone in the group except Kevin. He was riding really strong and just walked away on the start climb. I could have chased, but knew I had to sit in and let my legs come around. After the 3rd or 4th hard climb I hacked the most epic two part loogie of my life. And after the epic loogie, it was game on.

My legs out of no where came around! My hangover and stomach came out of no where and started working. I kept the pedal to the floor with only two or three guys hanging onto me. At the beginning of the 5th lap I could tell they were hurting and just kept the pace up. I felt great at the steady tempo. I was paying for Friday night on the climbs, but I just cruised those in the granny and kept the pressure on until the singletrack. There was no one in sight at that point. I rode to the end of the race solo on the remaining singletrack.

I ended the day 26th which wasn't too shabby for being more drunk on Friday than I have in probably a year (don't ask about that time). Eppen killed it of course and took 2nd and Kevin took 23rd. Robin did awesome as well taking down 7th in the Women's Elite. Dr. Kyle rode strong as well considering he had just defended his doctoral thesis two weeks before hand. Kim Eppen flatted/burped her tire of the remaining pressure and DNF'ed which sucked. She asked if anyone wanted to ride Sugar the next day, and we all declined. No way was I going to ride when she had some aggression to take out on the trails.

All in all a good weekend. Now time to get married. I have more butterflies in my stomach than you could ever imagine. I know that isn't a thing for a guy to say, but screw it it is true. I love Emily more than anyone could imagine and the anticipation of her being my wife is killing me.

I also have a bitching SS cross/gravel conversion coming up after I get Emily's wedding present all built up. The build has spiraled out of control as new parts that are just hitting the market have literally been falling in my lap as I need them. They have just become available pretty much exactly when I need them. I will detail that in the next couple of days.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Decorah Time Trial Race Report

Knowing that the Decorah Time Trials were going to be on the IMBCS schedule this year, I knew it was a must do. About 3.5 years ago I had the chance to cruise up to Decorah to finally ride the awesome trails. With it being 3.5 years since I had ridden them (I have subsequently said year after year that I was going to get up there at least once) I knew I was going to need a refresher on the trails.

I contacted Shockey at the beginning of last week. Tentatively the plan was I was heading up on Thursday to pre-ride come hell or high water. Luckily neither of those came about and I was actually joined by Adam and Thomas B. We shoved off nice and early (8am, come on it was my day off) in gorgeously sunny weather. Shockey had arranged for Jeff O'Gara to ride with us.

Last time I rode those trails a couple of friends and I actually rode with Jeff and another individual who we figured out to be none other than Ben Shockey. Small world, but it is Iowa. So after some minor adventures on the way up we arrived just in time to meet up with Jeff.

Jeff knows those trails well enough that he could casually ride a fast pace and make us feel pretty worthless, but without that kind of pace, I wouldn't have gotten a good race pace feel for the trails. We rode just about all of the course (some or most backwards) and included the Palisades side just to round things off and kill the last of what was in our legs. I somehow remembered a lot of the trails and where we were which was great.

Come race day Adam and I met up even earlier at 7am to rainy cool weather. With a 10am start we knew that we had to get up there early enough to get a decent start time. We arrived right at 9:30 with just enough time to register and get the low down in the race meeting. We nabbed the 10:53 and 10:54 start times, and got suited up.

One thing I need to work on is warming up. I suck at it. The course started with about a 200 yard road stretch and then turned into the sky. I had been forewarned about the opening section. I knew there would reach a point that got too steep. This came a little earlier than anticipated due to the tacky/slightly muddy conditions. At this point my heart was beating out of my chest so I hopped off the bike and attempted to run. Not happening. So I hiked up the short section that led to the top of the bluff.

I thought that things wouldn't turn up again too badly, but I was wrong. I was 10 minutes in and had already passed countless people who were faced with the intensity of the climbs. The trail opened up into a double track section that again pitched up steeply. There were three more people here either off the bike or just trudging along. I dove in past the last of them thankful to find the trail finally at the top of the bluff.

This is where my heart finally slowed down and I got into a good rhythm. After this I was on cruise control. I was feeling great. I knew the couple of trouble climbs after this point and knew the insane dosage of elevation was better spread across the remainder of the course.

I got heckled twice going through Death Valley where all the party people were hanging out and was wishing I could stop, but I felt really good. I got down to the river trail and punched it as fast as I was comfortable with. Trevor was waiting at the line and said I had rolled across the line close the the sub-1 hour mark. I knew I had made the top 5 and was content.

I then proceded to drink way too many beers, eat some awesome chili, hang out with Shockey, Adam, and Marty, show up to the awards late (they started way earlier than anticipated) and then head home. I pulled out 4th on the day. I had hoped for more, but everything felt great. The stupid cramping problem was being caused by the Rotor rings and was remedied by a chainring position change. This race confirmed it.

Next up is the WORS race at Iola. I am hoping that my legs have a little Bump and Jump in them after my bachelor party on Friday night. I have a long drive up there on Saturday evening after work and a late start time on Sunday and then more driving.

After that I am on official house lockdown. No mountain biking for me until after the wedding. More self imposed than anything seeing as the beginning of the season has been laden with races already.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sylvan Island Stampede Race Report

So this is way late, but better than never. I headed down to Davenport early on Saturday for my cousin's wedding so I got a chance to preride the course with Emily. Riding the course backward from last year was very surprising. It rode great! Not a single hiccup in the flow of the course.

The wedding went off without a hitch, I probably drank too many beers, and then headed to the hotel to get some rest. I woke up nice and early to watch Paris-Roubaix. It was crazy to see Cancellara ride away from the rest of the field that well. After getting ready we headed over to the Island to watch the Sport/Women's race.

After getting all ready, we lined up for the Men's Expert race. Things were running behind all day long so it was an antsy start on top of the fact that it was the first IMBCS race of the year. I as usual was an idiot and didn't get a front row start which really hurt my chances. I was right behind Kevin who got bumped off the start which in turn caused hesitation on my part.

So getting into the singletrack somewhere around the 20's I knew I was going to need to do some work to get through the beginning of the field. What I didn't know was that I was going to darn near have to blow myself to do this. On the open sections of the course it seemed like everyone was riding really strong. I had to burn a couple more matches that I would have liked to just moving up.

I got up to around 4-5th by around the end of lap 2. I realized that if I held that "pace" I was going to blow up. Worst part was all the accelerations were causing me to slow instead of being able to settle in and hold a solid pace. The rest of the next two laps were damage control.

I over'Gued myself somewhere around lap 4. My stomach got all weird and bloated which turned out to force me into a comfortable pace. At this point I realized my fitness was lacking and that I was going to ride above my comfort level just to save face.

Lap 5-6 were when I felt the best. If the race would have ended at lap 6 I would have been happy. I would have been one place lower, but Jed Gammel rode stronger than I and should have beat me if not for a late race puncture. I also have to give it up to Brian Kingsbury. He rode the race of his life. His fitness looked great. He caught me on lap 6 and never looked back. Hats off to him.

I ended up 5th on the day. With guys like Brian Eppen, Jesse Lalonde, Cam Kirkpatrick there, you know it is going to be a tough day. And it was.

I promise to get the Decorah Time Trial update up this week. It went a lot better.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ouachita Challenge Race Report

So race day came. Woke up around 6am and got showered and headed over to Oden to pick up the race packets. We officially found out that we were going to run the race the opposite direction. My goal for the race was to stay with the leaders as long as possible to see what would play out.

At the start I made the group for the long dirt road section before the singletrack. I had to ease up on the climb to the entrance but caught back on the tail end of the line of 15 or so leaders. I rode in the group for quite some time while things stretched out slowly. I realized quickly that I was going to need to back off the pace.

I eased up and settled in climbing Blowout and Big Brushy. On the descent off of Big Brushy (after flatting) I found my front brake slowly leaking down. Shit. As it turned out, my brake hose banjo bolt was not torqued to spec (the bike had been built for 5 days, still my fault) so the last 40 miles were ridden without a front brake. Awesome.

Anyways after my mechanicals, I kind of shut down a little mentally. I was out of the top 20, and was yoyo-ing around the 30's. I decided to just ride and have fun. I started to have some cramping issues a little earlier than expected as well. I was hydrating well and eating, but cramping ensued early. I think I have tracked it down to my chainrings which leave you on the gas a lot.

All in all I still finished top 50 which was a good day on the mountain bike. I finished with Adam same as last year forgoing the opportunity to sprint it out for 39th or 40th or something. Seemed fitting to cruise in with him.

Next up Sylvan Island Report. More of the same (minus the mechanicals!)