Sunday, March 30, 2008

More tomorrow....

About the GRAID:

Matt Maxwell, Steve Fuller, Dennis Grelkand myself started in Lamoni, Iowa on Saturday with the hopes of riding to Emmons, Minnesota roughly 265 miles down the road.

Steve decided to bail after 100 miles or so and then rode 20 miles to his house. Matt stopped in Ames. Both guys did awesome!

Dennis and I left Ames with the intention of going to the border. Four miles down the road, once in Gilbert (where I live!), we decided that a warm bed and hot shower sounded better than the next 65-70 miles to the next town. I think we ended with around 157 miles. I will take it. Especially considering that Dennis and I stopped with energy in the tank, just wanting to sleep more than our desire to ride.

I am very happy with the ride. The bike was flawless and efficient. The ESE wind helped as will!

More tomorrow folks. I am still tired.

Happy training.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hold on a minute

I am going to have to postpone my Trans Iowa thread for a few days. I have gotten too busy to think about it.

I picked up a new light tonight. Dave Nice has been using it and loves it so it must be good! It is the Princeton Tec Apex headlamp.

I took it out just for about 10 minutes and so far so good. The light is very bright, especially compared to the lights I am using now. On high I would feel pretty comfortable riding single track I am sure. I need to order a handle bar mount from Princeton Tec (Dave?) as wearing it with the strap is kind of funky, but surprisingly not that uncomfortable!

I threw on the 36 tooth Salsa ring tonight. I will go for a ride tomorrow to see how it feels on the gravel. The lowest gear on the cogset is 36 X 32. I would think that would be low enough as I have climbed the Des Moines river valley hills on 32 X 17 before.

Well, the GRAID is going to happen on Saturday, but the forecast has been up in the air a bit with the wind direction. So far it appears that we will have an excellent day, we just need to figure out which way the wind will be coming from. As of right now Accuweather is calling for SE wind, which would be perfect if we left from the south, but not from the north (DUH!). I am making the call on Thursday afternoon. Hopefully things won't change too much from Thursday to Saturday!

Rode for roughly two hours tonight around Ames. I am sure loving my new rims and tires!

Happy training!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What Makes Trans Iowa So Damn Difficult - According to Paul! Part 1

Warning... long post.

First a bit of history.

In 1999, at my 10 year high school reunion a buddy of mine asked if I wanted to run the Chicago Marathon. We had 8 weeks before the race and I hadn't run most of the summer. About 10 sheets to the wind I said that I would love to run it with him. Eight weeks later I ran the Chicago Marathon. Throughout the years to 2004 I ran a marathon or three a year. I realized, while not fast, endurance was my thing.

In April of 2005 one of my best friends, Jim McGuire, talked to me about the Trans Iowa bike race. In high school I rode quite a bit (and I still have that 1985 Panasonic Sport just waiting to become a fixie some day!). This really interested me so I offered to be support just in case Jim and his buddy Gary Cale had to bail off of the 305 mile route. I met up with Jim and Gary late on Friday night before the race and I was as giddy as a school girl. I am sure Gary was hating me! I met Mike Curiak at the hotel. Jim said something to the effect, "Hey, that is Mike Curiak!" as if he was talking about Michael Jordan or something. Jim introduced himself and I followed. I had no clue who Mike Curiak was and it was just a strange meeting. Here Jim has excited to shake is hand and at the time it was just like anyone else (well, I guess he is just like everyone else, but not!).

Fast forward to the pre race meeting. All of a sudden there were new rules put on the riders that they didn't have a clue about. One was that they had to be in Algona, approximately 127 miles away within 10 hours. You do the math: 12.7 mph average on gravel (including stops and B roads!) is not exactly easy for most riders especially with gusts of wind up to 35 mph!). So, that was a huge blow for a lot of people I think. Mentally, all of a sudden this was not going to be a slug across the great state of Iowa, but people had to really be on their toes and likely change their mindset of how they had been planning on accomplishing this great feat. Well, it became apparent very quickly that TI was going to eat up a lot of people. I had the luxury of driving ahead about every 15-20 miles and watching all the riders. While I knew that Curiak and Jeff Kerkove had to be up front when I was in Orange City around mile 25 or so four riders on cross bikes flew by. It seems like they were going 20 plus. I about crapped my pants.

I waited and waited. I think I waited at least 30 minutes before the last riders came through and that was mile 25! I then drove to Primghar which was about mile 45 or so I think. I went for a 4 mile run and waited. What do you know, after my run here came the leaders on their cross bikes. Again, I couldn't believe their speed with another 250 miles to go! A lot of people stopped in Primghar, and a quite a few didn't and probably paid the price with dehydration later on. I waited and waited. It must have been nearly 2 hours before the back of the back came through. People were already dropping out. I couldn't believe it. After saying good bye to Jim and Gary I drove along the course (I had copied their cue sheets onto a tablet of paper). I probably drove for an hour (I think I was about 20-30 miles out of Emmetsburg when I stopped?) I still couldn't catch the leaders! I parked right on top of this hill that was going north to south. The riders were making their way up the hill against the 25-35 mph winds. They were really feeling that hill! The look of fun and agony on their faces were priceless. After I met up with Jim and Gary I drove up to Emmetsburg. I went to Pizza Hut and ate lunch and then went to the edge of town to watch the riders come in. Now at least half the field were gone and riders would trickle in every 10-20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes between riders. People had bailed out and people were loading up their bikes to call it a day. Then, Jim and Gary came and they were doing great, but the goal of making it to Algona in 10 hours was about out of reach as they had rode through some really thick and rough gravel.

We chatted a bit and I drove to the checkpoint in Algona. Very few people were coming in (it was probably about 4:00pm when I got there). There were famished riders hanging out and I believe I had heard, if memory serves, about 11-12 people took off for the finish from Algona. I was in awe. The talk around 6 pm was that there were still riders coming in and the cut off time of 10 hours to get to Algona was being extended. I think they into the checkpoint at about 6:50 or so. They didn't seem to care that it was extended even though there was some gas still left in the tank. Mentally, they were finished. After eating a bit we drove up the course to Forest City where Jim and I are from. Just north of Britt and before Forest City we started catching some of the riders. We were all in awe! We drove out to Pilot Knob State Park where my buddy Tony was camping for the night (the guy that asked me to run the Chicago Marathon!). We put out lawn chairs at the east entrance and FINALLY I had caught the leaders. Guys were flying through the down hill section of the park at 25 miles per hour and when they came to us they were a bit lost as they were suppose to ride a mile of single track, but had missed it. So, Tony and I pointed them in the right direction. I couldn't believe how fresh those guys seemed. Like I told Jim the next day, they sounded like they had just started about 5 minutes ago and hadn't just rode 200 miles with horrendous winds. Unbelievable.

It was about a week or so later I learned of Paddy Humenny. He finished TI V.1 on a mountain bike single speed with 44 X 16 gearing, approximately 71.5 gear inches. That is sick. What is super cool is that Paddy was very encouraging of me for TI V.2 and I will never forget it.

After months of saving, in November of 2005 I bought my first mountain bike.

Part 2 probably won't be until Monday. Going to Missouri for the weekend (without the bike!)

Today was the first day in a month with NO pain. I rode for an hour. The Flight is now a 1 X 8 and I think I need to put the 36 tooth chain ring back on as 32 just is too easy (I say that now!).

Happy training.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Week and a Half Until the GRAID!

Over the last month or so I have been suffering from some sore achilles. It is strange, sometimes during the day they are sore and other times they are 100%. Now as I type this I am feeling 100%, but in another hour I may go through a phase where they are sore. I am finding now that the longer I sit, unless I keep moving my feet into different positions every once in a while they start getting sore. The more I walk around the better. When do they hurt the most? While driving. Having my feet resting on the heel is when they ache the most. Strange.

The plan is to do a lot of resting between now and the GRAID. I am certainly not going to gain any fitness doing anything extravagant that is for sure! I am just going to bike a few minutes every 2-3 days. Today, I will be commuting into Ames again so I will be getting 1.5-2 hours in, but it will be all nice and easy riding.

The mandatory cup of coffee in THE CUP

Gary has finally gotten his blog started again!

Here is the bike ready to go get its derailer. Paddy, don't hate me!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Paul Varnum and I took off for a sweet ride at 9:00 AM this morning. Paul planned on joining me for one lap of the 36 mile loop I had created. This loop ended up being a pretty good route as it took roughly three hours to complete given the conditions today.

Paul with a mouthful of the dozen donuts he brought along! This is a joke as anyone that knows Paul well knows he takes his health vey serious.

We took off with temps around 30-35 with a N changing to a NW wind at 15. You know me and wind! I can't stand it as I have stated many, many times, but then again that is part of cycling. We hit our first gravel road going south and were riding 14-15 with hardly pushing the pedals. We continued our way towards Boone County and were finding the fresh laid gravel was less than ideal! Fortunately, we only had a 5 mile trip directly into the wind and Paul pulled be through a tough uphill mile. I told Paul, "Man! I have forgotten how easy this is!" He probably didn't appreciate that!

We then hit a couple of miles of "scenic" miles. We concluded that a scenic gravel road in Iowa just needs a curve in it and it is considered scenic! If you have ridden Iowa gravel I am sure you can appreciate that statement!

We continued our miles and miles of bobbing and weaving all over the road like a couple of drunkards trying desperately to find a line. We could occasionally find one, but it would die out in 50 feet only to be riding in 2-3 inches of sand again. We eventually made it back to Paul's and I was really feeling good. Certainly a lot better than last week! I downed a Boost, which I swear by!, and I was off. About 8 miles later I made it home and warmed up some Casey's pizza (you regular readers will know how much I like pizza!). I was out the door within about 25 minutes and going for lap two.

This time I decided to ride the loop in the opposite direction. This was working great until I hit the north section! I was missing Paul pulling me along! %^) This started the 10 mile per hour sand pit ride! I have been dreaming of a sandy beach all winter, but this didn't quite fit the bill! The gravel was between 2-3 inches deep and was incredibly slow. Since my achilles have been hurting a bit I decided to spin and not mash so I was pretty slow. Once I turned west I quickly figured out the wind had turned to more of a northwesterly wind compared to when Paul and I were out. I even threw grass up in the air like I did in my golfing days just to prove it. I did take a couple of breaks in this section. Going up any incline at all and I was down to 8 mph. I thought, "I can run at a faster pace! This sucks!" But, my heart rate was probably in the 150's (guessing based on feel) so I just kept on spinning.

Finally, I turned south and had the wind pushing me again for 5 miles! I was cruising again at 12-14 depending on if I could find a line in the gravel. I wouldn't be surprised if I rode an extra mile or more just with all the weaving all over the road! I made my turn back to the east and it was confirmed that the wind was coming from the NW as I continued to get pushed home.

With about 7-8 miles to go this "park" is found. All I can say is it is very strange. I wonder if people actually came to see this back in the day?

A very nice final few miles got me home in 7 hours with 6:15 of riding time. Certainly not fast, but I got home feeling great. I never really got overly tired or bonkish feeling. I feel pretty good about the ride considering the amount of resting I have been doing with my foot. So, now I just need to rest up and see how my achilles feels over the next few days. I am sure they will be sore, but they felt pretty darn good during the ride so we will see!

The GRAID is on depending on the weather and the conditions!

Today's weapon of choice 2005 Ibex Alpine 550

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Well, this morning I woke up and felt great. Took my 3 Aleve, went to work and everything went well. I was a bit sore after driving my bus (I have to extend my foot forward and have to press the brake straight down with my toes) and I have many stops and starts so I was a bit tender after that. Came home, jumped on the bike for 8 miles of gravel. After the ride I was feeling pretty good. I took a few more Aleve after that and now that it is 5 hours after the ride I am feeling great. Probably 90-95 percent. MUCH better than last night that is for sure. I guess we will see what happens!

Saturday morning ride at my place starting at 9:00 AM. Thirty-five to seventy miles on a 35 mile loop around Gilbert. It should be good. Leave a message if your in!

Here is a map to my place in Gilbert.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Well, call me a wimp, but my achilles on my right foot is killing me. I hasn't been too bad except for the last couple of days. I have been standing and walking all day at work when I am normally sitting 90 percent of the time. I think this has continued to strain my achilles and it is REALLY getting old. I haven't ridden since Saturday. I think that I will the next day, but my pain hasn't improved and at times it feels even worse. That is after taking three Aleve twice a day. So, I am going to ride some on Saturday and if I don't feel better VERY soon, I am going to have to post pone the GRAID ride. The last thing I want to do is cause problems that become chronic problems. So, more rest I guess. The GRAID will always be there right?

Happy resting.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Day of Rest

After yesterday's ride I decided to take a day of rest today. My ankle is feeling good thank God! I hopefully can start upping the time on the bike now and hope to put in 70+ miles this weekend. I will plan on riding the route below twice, and who knows, maybe three times. I am looking at getting going around 9:00 AM so if you would like to join me for 1 or both laps that would be awesome!

Happy training.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I got my ass handed to me today!

I headed over to Paul Varnum's house and we took off for a 2 hour ride. I could tell within the first mile or two that I was a bit off. I was having to work somewhat hard to stay with Paul and we usually are of the same ability. I got to our 1 hour turn around and within about 15 minutes I was really starting to wear down. I just couldn't hold the moderate pace of 12-13 miles per hour on the gravel. Then with about 8 miles to go to his house I was getting dizzy and felt like puking my guts out. I just felt like total shit. Bonkville all the way. I was losing ground to Paul and we were only going about 10 at this point! I was forced to take a break at Paul's place for a drink and a gel. I took off about a half an hour later and I could tell the gel helped, but it was short lived as about a mile from home I was dizzy and nauseated again. I just didn't have it today.

Two hours and 55 minutes with something around 35 miles. I don't think it is my fitness as I should easily be able to ride for that long at an easy pace. I wonder if I am coming down with something or didn't eat enough or something. It was just one of those rides.

The good news? No ankle pain during the ride. I am a bit tender now, but no pain. I will probably just do an hour easy tomorrow and then hit it again on Monday for a couple of hours.

Happy training!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Why wait until tomorrow

I am planning on riding with Paul V. tomorrow and I could just as easily written this after that ride, but I couldn't wait.

I am starting to enjoy commuting to Ames. Tonight I had to ride down to the south side of Ames so it was about 9 miles taking the most direct route. After my appointment I headed back home. For the 18 miles it took me 1:24. Not setting any records by any means. I took it very easy as I just want to get some time on the bike without pushing my achilles too far. Today I would say it was about 90 percent or so. Hardly any discomfort, no pain, but it is tender and weak feeling. Of course, this certainly could be psychological as well.

I have been riding my Ibex hardtail with gears. I am missing the single speed, but right now I think this is a wise choice. I am falling in love with this bike again as well. Ibex makes some kick ass bikes for a good price that is for sure. Don't knock them unless you have tried one. I haven't met an unhappy Ibex owner yet.

Well, the achilles held up well during the ride. No pain, just a bit of tenderness. I plan on riding 2.5-3 hours tomorrow with Paul at a nice and easy pace so we will see how it goes.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Happy training.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A bit of a commute

While many of you commute everyday to work I live about three blocks from work so I just walk. But, now that the weather is turning a bit nicer (nicer = warmer than 10 degrees! %^) I have decided to commute into Ames when I am making a quick trip. Tonight I needed to take some money to the bank so I rode there, then stopped at Skunk River Cycles to warm up the toes, and then headed home. One hour and 20 minutes for the 15 mile commute with the stops. I rode the Ibex, which is geared, so I spun a lot since my achilles has been bothering me a bit. It was starting to get a bit tender near the end, but is feeling fine now. The pain actually has moved a bit off of the achilles and is now closer to the bone that bulges outon the inside of my ankle. I am going to continue with the Aleve and the rest to see how it goes. If I am feeling fine tomorrow I will likely be riding back into Ames. We will see about the weekend. For right now I am going to take a bit of a break from the single speed.

I received my Small Block 8 cross tires a couple of days ago. I haven't gotten a chance to ride them yet, but I am amazed at how awesome they are! They are very light (340 grams) and the tread is much less agressive than any pictures I have seen. The tread literally isn't any higher than an 1/8 of an inch, if that. It should prove to be a fast rolling tire.

I need to heal up so I can be able to ride for a very long time at TI. Things aren't looking too go from the GRAID right now, but we will see. I will be making a decision on that soon. There are only a couple of other people interested in riding it and they are flexible so that is good.... I guess.

Happy training.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Okay I am cheating

Yesterday I promised no internet until I had put in an hour of riding or 4 miles of running. I had another 14 hour day so I just squeezed in 30 minutes.

My right achilles heal is killing me. I have now switched to my geared bike and am spun nice and easy tonight on the streets of Gilbert. Here is my theory, I think I need to drop my seat a few millimeters on the Flight, change to an easier gear, and stop using my winter shoes as I can not move the cleats back any further. I know that I am ankling on the Flight so I am going to give it up for a bit to try to heal up. Seriously, it my achilles literally feels like it is burning.


Happy training.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Tour of Lames

I got out for 5 hours of riding around Ames, Iowa. Yes, I road city bike paths and city streets for 5 hours today. I actually was on the bike for about 4:15. I put in around 45 miles. Yes, 45 miles in AMES. Now, if that isn't mental training I don't know what is!

I have made a new rule until after Trans Iowa. No internet unless I have run over 4 miles or have ridden for over an hour. I am sticking to it!

Happy training!