Monday, April 28, 2008

Wednesday single track

I would love to go down to the Center Trails in DM on Wednesday? I can leave by 5:00. Anyone interested in going. I can take four bikes (including my own) and I will drive?

Leave a comment if interested. We can leave from my place or we can meet in Ames.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

What to say? Sappy post ahead.

On any given day I love spending time reading blogs and writing my thoughts and feelings into this journal. All day I have put it off because I am speechless. Really... I really don't know what to say. What I do know is that I am a more appreciative, patient, and wise person than I was on Friday. I hope these feelings continue and will not go away.

Like I tell my students at school; going after goals, reaching towards goals that seem unsurmountable, whether the goals are attained or not, make you a better person. This year's Trans Iowa pretty much sums up this experience for me.

I had many feelings towards Trans Iowa: Anger, frustration, excitement, despair, regret and on and on. While about three weeks or so ago these feelings were really peaking and it soon became apparent what I could control and what I couldn't. This made me just feel appreciation for having the opportunity of riding Trans Iowa and to have a good time doing so!

Here is the report: This year I decided to take Friday and Monday (tomorrow) off from work so I could get to Decorah early and I could sleep on Monday if I had stayed up all night on Saturday. On Friday morning Steve Fuller picked up Cory and I and we were off for Decorah by 10:00. We got there early in the afternoon and rode around and were at T Bocks by 3:00. We talked with GT and just chilled. Before we knew it it was 5:30 and the prerace meeting was getting started. Seriously, meeting up with the Yazoo guys, Ken Y., the Lincoln crew, among many others, was a blast. I couldn't stop laughing! We headed back to the hotel and got prepared to ride.

I walked around the room in a complete daze. I couldn't seem to get things together. For whatever reason, I just wasn't thinking straight. This continued on through out Saturday as well, but that is another story told a bit later.

At three in the morning we were up and at them and ready to go. Once at the start we tried to stay warm in the 30 degree temps with wind chill being much colder in the 25-30 mph winds. We took off and I was literally between two groups. I believe (I couldn't see them!) the lead group had 15 or so riders, then there were small groups of 2-3 people that I could see ahead, and then what must have been a group of 20 riders behind me. I was making good time and reeling in pairs of riders. This was until I continued straight ahead at mile 13 or so instead of turning left. I cranked up a huge hill to all of a sudden be at a T intersection on HWY 9. I looked behind me and the pair of riders that were about 1/4 of a mile behind me just a couple of miles ago were gone and I didn't see anyone around me. I figured I messed up and I turned around. When I got back to the correct intersection I had found the group of 20 or so riders. I joined in the fun finding my friends Gary and Jim. I rode to the front and pulled away bringing with me a few people. I continued pulling away until all of a sudden Joe Frost Jr. (TI V.3 finisher) came up on me out of no where pulling 4-5 riders with him. I joined in on the fun, but it wasn't for a couple of miles until they stopped for some food. I continued on my way (remember, my goal was to stay on the bike!) and rode alone much of the time. I was happy to have caught the pairs of riders that I had around miles 6-10 so I had gained my time back more than likely by not stopping and just going fast enough to try to make the checkpoint in time. I got to Cresco just before 8 I believe to find Cory waiting for me. He waited for me for about 15 minutes! What a guy! I took a bit longer than I wanted refilling my bottles, putting gray tape on my shoes to protect my now numb toes, and throwing some bags over my feet. No need for frostbite! Cory and I took off with a young lady named Kristin.

We rode to the south edge of Cresco and hit a T intersection and the cue sheets were not very clear here. We made a wrong turn and lost about 10 minutes. This would be the second time I went the wrong way! Wait, just a few miles later would come the third wrong turn. While watching for the reroute we completely missed it and went 2-3 miles too far and then were stopped by a group coming up from the flooded road. We turned around and finally found the reroute flags. We continued riding in a group and I was having a blast. There were at least three TI finishers in this group so I was feeling good. Tired, but I really was having fun. We continued on our way being blasted by the wind. It was around mile 68 where we stopped at a shelter in a small town. Half the group took off. My friend Jim talked with our friend Gary on the phone. Gary had been riding with a friend that had gotten sick so he was about an hour behind us and suffering by himself. After the conversation Jim, Cory, Dwight Beavers (the 71 year old guy that I bailed with last year)and I took off. We ended up getting off route again and went another 2 miles out of the way! But, wait! There is one more! Just before West Union we missed another turn and ended up riding into the south side of West Union to get back on course. Yes, I was in a daze and I am sure the other guys were as well as we all missed the turns!

We stopped at West Union with about 24 miles to the checkpoint. It was suppose to be mile 85 and I had 96.4 on my computer. Mistakes cost me any chance of making the cut off so we bailed at 1:00 in West Union. There is a very small part of me that thinks that if I hadn't missed those turns that we could have made the cut off, but I am very positive that I would have quit at the checkpoint and I was very cooked by West Union. We ate Hardees where I had a half pound burger and Cory, a vegetarian, ate a 1/3 pound burger in less than 30 seconds I swear!

We were able to get a ride to the check point where Steve was volunteering. We got there to see a bunch of guys laying around. We heard that something like 18-19 riders took off from the checkpoint, but it wasn't just 3 hours later and it seemed that there were only about 5 riders left in the race. We took off for the second check point and once there I decided to ride a bit more so I could turn in my century for the Cup of Dirt. With 96.4 miles on the computer I didn't have far to go. After riding 2 miles around the very small town of Spillville I headed west into the wind on a gravel road for a mile and then turned around to get back to the check point. I had told Cory not more than an hour earlier that I was done with TI and I wouldn't be back. I got back after that 4 mile ride with a smile on my face and was loving riding again! That didn't take much to change my mind! I will be back for TI V.5 if they have it. I know I have the bike dialed and am ready to go!

I learned to appreciate being able to ride my bike for long distances, the friendships that I have through riding, and to not get so bent out of shape about things. Sometimes life is tough and we just have to roll with the punches (or the wind in this case!).

Today, I feel about 98 percent. My legs feel perfect, but my upper back, near my shoulder blades, are somewhat sore. I guess that is from holding on for dear life to my handlebars so I wouldn't fly off the bike due to the wind. Seriously, I mean that!

Happy training.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Feeling ready to go for TI.

Wow. I just had one of those rides. Now hopefully I didn't over do it.

Paula had a track meet 15 miles up the route via the GRAID route in Jewell. I decided to ride there and was feeling good. I actually saw a biker a mile ahead of me and worked against the 10 mile per hour wind to catch him at mile 8. We then road together into Jewell. I was very happy to average 14.3 mph into the wind. After the meet and after dark I took off for home. It was perfectly calm and not a cloud in the sky. A perfect night to ride. I was flying (for me!) without having to work to hard even though I did push a bit up the hills to keep my speed up. Admittedly, I had 1 mile of pavement each way, but on the way home I averaged 17.3 on the gravel for the 15 miles. For the guy that usually is the slowest guy at TI that isn't bad. I finally feel that I have everything in order to complete TI if we have good conditions. Now it is time to take a ice bath and rest. Didn't I say that on Saturday?!!!? I mean it this time!

Happy training.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A little ride today.

I had noticed on Steve's blog that he had TWO group rides planned today. I met Steve when we did the GRAID ride and he is a great guy to ride with and we seem to have similar interests in riding. I do have to live vicariously through his awesome fleet of bikes though! Paula had to work this morning at Panera at 9:00, and Tammy had to be left off at a friends at 8:45 in order to go shopping in Iowa City (remember, we just have 1 car!). So I headed down to the Saturn dealership in order to get some service done to it. The Annual Mayor's Ride was starting at 10:00 and I was just not getting my girls out the door early enough to make it. I got down to Saturn at 9:30 and took off. I tried to find the riders, but didn't have a good idea of the route and I was guessing based on Steve's description of what he believed was the route. This ride had 100's of people, maybe even a 1000 people. It was crazy, there were bikers everywhere once I found the action. This really opened my eyes of why RAGBRAI is the way it is. This was more or less a "party" ride.

I met up with Steve at the finish and we chatted a bit before I headed off to the start of another group ride. This started a few miles away and it was at an east side bar. This ride was to be, I believe 10-15 miles in 5 hours with a lot of bar stops on the way. Clothing was optional. I rolled up and saw 50 dollar Walmart bikes to several thousand dollar trikes. I saw several bob trailers with coolers beer and coolers with built in car stereo's. Being a gravel endurance type of guy I really didn't feel like I fit in too well. I am kinda quiet so I didn't introduce myself to all the people that did seem to know each other. I guess that is the eccentric side of me. With a couple of beers I would have fit right in, but today wasn't the day. Within about a half an hour, I took off for the west side of Des Moines again to pick up my car. With out knowing the entrances to the trails and being blocked into neighborhoods due to railroad tracks and dead ends I put in quite a few miles that I didn't need to, but it sure was fun.

I think I totaled 40-50 miles easily, and maybe a bit more (odometer wasn't working! Gotta fix that!). I was at about 5.5 hours of riding and since a lot of this was on bike paths and being lost, but going in the right direction some of the time!, I certainly didn't take the quickest path. I sure had fun! I don't do urban riding ever so it was a totally new experience.

Time to rest up. TI is coming up!

Happy training!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I rode into Ames yesterday to Skunk River Cycles. I picked up a new product that I hadn't seen before. I have seen the Sports Beans before, but not the caffeinated version! So I had to pick up six packets for the upcoming Trans Iowa.
I then picked up two presta tubes for my Ignitors as my new rims are presta while the rims that came with my Flight are schrader. I then rode to Petersen Pits to ride the single track. I was to meet Paul Varnum there IF he could make it. While waiting for a few minutes along came Greg. I can be horrible with names and I even called Greg by the name of Jeff a couple of times. Once again, I am the idiot of the month! It was awesome that Greg came over.

He hit up the trails and within 20 minutes we ran into Alex on his Kona Kola 29 (SWEET!). We did a bit of riding and made our way over to Casa De Varnum's house. A nice cold one went down MIGHTY fine that is for sure! Thanks Paul!

While sitting at Paul's, Will from Skunk River rode up! It was getting dark so we headed back through the trails back to Petersen's. These guys smoked me while I was on the single speed! I was maxing out my heart rate just keeping up with these speed demons and I had a blast doing it! We decided that we need to start having a Wednesday night ride so keep watching the blogs for more info!

Just over a week until TI!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I just got the okay to go to the WEMS Levis Trow race on the weekend of June 28. I can't wait! It seems that they have a 25 mile, 50 mile and 100 mile race. I am sure I will be signing up for the 50 mile. I am not fast enough to ride 100 miles of single track in 12 hours so I think it will be the 50 mile!

Thanks Squidbuzz for the info!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

First Single Track of the Year!

I took off for a few hour ride this afternoon. I rode the single track in Petersen Pits and McFarland and had a ball! I did end up getting a flat and ended up walking to Paul Varnum's house about a mile away. All winter long I took my pump along and today I didn't! Serves me right! The single track was in the best shape I have seen yet!

So... On Wednesday night I would like to meet up with any area riders that would like to ride at Petersens and McFarland single track. We will meet at the beach at 6:00! Alex? Paul (notice the day change!)? Matt? Emily?

Happy training.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Running and biking

I woke up to a good inch of snow on the ground this morning. Wow. I can't remember it snowing this late in the year, but I am sure it has.

Went to the gym today with Tammy. I rode the exercise bike for an hour and ran for 35 minutes. I hadn't run for a long time and it felt great. I started slow (9 min pace), but kept jacking it up every 2-5 minutes and ended at 6:45 pace. Man, I love to run. Like cycling, I am not fast, but I sure love it.

So, today I want to do some research on some good single track races. I am not really a XC type of guy, but I would do one or two. I would really like to do some 6hr and 12 hr or century races. Any suggestions? Anyone do the Laramie Enduro?

Happy training.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just not for me!

This past week the weather has been absolutely shitty or I have been busy (mom had surgery on Wednesday!). So, no riding for me. While I could be out riding in 30 mph winds with a driving rain, I have thought better of it. I have done it before and it has cost me brakes on a century ride and $100 worth of drive train parts in the past. Not doing it this close to TI.

I am REALLY looking forward to TI. It will be a great challenge and I am very excited for it! And, in all honestly, even though I have been a crab this year, I really think I have what it is going to take. I have gotten stronger, even though I am still weak!, and I have most of all gotten smarter about all of this stuff. My plan is still to go lightweight. It will depend on the cue sheets we get on Friday night and the weather, but I will be carrying two 24 ounce bottles and two 32 ounce bottles, a Mountainsmith lumbar pack with a coat, arm and leg warmers and a pair of wind and waterproof socks, and food. I am not going to bring a bunch of clothes and I am only going to be carrying about 60 ounces of fluid with me except when the distance to the next stop is 60 miles or further. I drink just over 1 oz per mile while riding gravel during cooler weather so I will plan on stopping for a refill every 50 or so miles when I can. At night, I will fill up the bottles, and go.

I also have a frame bag (AWESOME!) and a stem bag for food. I have found that this is the way to go! It is so nice just to have everything right there. I will also have my cell phone and camera in the frame bag.

I am going as light as I can. I will have to weigh my bike, but I am guessing it is around 24-25 pounds with my barends on. As some of you know, I run my barends on the center of my handlebars. They act much like aerobars, but do not have the elbow pads. When going into the wind, these REALLY help. They have been a great addition.

If only my dad still had his Puch. I would ride that for TI!

BTW, I got an email today from a guy that whizzed by me at Dirty Kanza last year and he will also be up in Decorah for Trans Iowa. He actually thanked me for writing this blog. I had a good laugh. Thanks though.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trans Iowa

Yes, Trans Iowa is hard, but more on that later!

Some great things about Trans Iowa this year:

1. Lots of hills means tons of fun! I would much rather be doing some climbing than riding 300 miles of flatness. BORING!

2. The friends! Blogging and riding have been great avenues in meeting wonderful people. Friday night will be a great time.

3. 345 miles of gravelly goodness. Plus, TI has been longer than stated every year (well, who knows about v.2) so this has to be the year that it is actually shorter than stated! Yeah right.

4. So far, we have had a pretty dry spring (until this week)! Let's hope it stays that way!

5. Hardly any 24 hour gas stations. No wasting time this year means lots of time on the bike!

6. One of the best things about TI this year? TWO CHECK POINTS! This will really help! This year the first check point is the shortest distance from the start ever! Then, just a lowly 102 miles later is check point two! This will be HUGE this year. For me, to put this race into three segments will help me, and I am sure a lot of riders, to keep things into prospective. We won't have to focus on the 200 miles to go from the check point (V.3!)

Happy training!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Saturday's ride

I plan on doing the following loop and hope to do it under 4 hours. If so, I will be happy. If you want to join me I will likely be leaving around 7 on Saturday morning from my house. I know it is a bit early, but I have a busy day planned!

I switched to Bikely instead of Routeslip and it rocks!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Basketball Shape? I think not!

I went back to Forest City this weekend to play in the annual alumni basketball tournament. I hadn't played for the last two years as I didn't want to risk getting injured before Trans Iowa. Well, this year I decided to play. It had been three years since I had played basketball. While my heart and lungs are in good shape, my legs are wasted. I have felt better after running a marathon. I can barely walk after 4 games of basketball on Saturday. Talk about a kick in the junk. I guess biking shape is a bit (a lot!) different than basketball shape.

Speaking of having a kick in the junk. Paddy Humenny used to have a quote under his sign in name on that said, "Ask me about kicking you in the junk!" or something to that effect. Well, on Friday I had to give myself a heapful of Paddy's prescription! I will admit, when reading GT's info on Trans Iowa came out about it being the longest and hardest Trans Iowa yet I was more than upset. Personally I looked at what was expected in order to make the cut off's, fulling knowing Iowa weather, and realized very quickly that this would be on the very edge of my ability, if that. So, I was pretty angry, but then again, I am probably one of the slowest guys that will be at TI so I guess I probably am not fit for this race, but after Paddy's prescription I feel a lot better! %^)

So, I have a better attitude. Hey, who doesn't want to say that they finished the longest and hardest TI yet? Well, I do. I don't want some dumb down version do I (maybe? %^) So, I am going after making those cut offs! It may be a bit risky, but I am going for broke. I am going to go as lightweight as I can, given the conditions, and will do my best to stay on the bike as much as possible. Time off the bike will absolutely kill my chances of making the cut offs so I will have to push!

Watch for my next installment of what makes Trans Iowa so hard. One thing that I will say is the mental side of it. Even before the start date comes! GT is well known for changing his mind continually of what is expected and this version certainly isn't an exception. First he says 10 mph average will be expected and then changes it to 11. Well, for the average Joe like me, that is a huge freaking difference, BUT, I am going for it! Again, I just need to make sure I am not spending much time off the bike!

Happy training.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Sorry for the delay. I just got out of bed! No seriously, I think I came down with something as I wasn't feeling good at all yesterday. I am feeling much better now! So here is the report.

Matt and I drove down to Steve Fuller's to get picked up by Dennis and his parents. We put our bikes in Dennis' awesome trailer and were headed down the road. We got to the hotel and then ate "The Best Pizza in Iowa" in Lamoni! We hit the sack pretty quickly after eating. Our plans were to eat at 6:30 in the morning and then take off.

This started our epic adventure. We were ready to go eat, but the restaurant didn't open at 6:30, but at 7:00. I had called the restaurant on Thursday and they told me 6:30. I guess locals never know anything about their own town! So, we asked the nice couple and the hotel manager about the restaurant uptown. They said it opened at 6:00. We road the mile and a half into town to find that the restaurant was for sale and not even open for business! Damn. I was pretty pissed as I am a pretty detail orientated person and here I was messing up and we hadn't even started! So, we decided on riding to the Iowa/Missouri border and then eating at the restaurant that opened at 7:00. Down the road we went to get to the border!

After leaving the border in 4 short miles we were back at the restaurant and we all had a great breakfast! I think we left the restaurant around 8:15-8:30. Looking back I wish we could have eaten at 6:00 and been on the road by 6:30. That could have made a big difference in our future plans. Anyway, we took off down the road and it wasn't more than 4 miles and we missed a turn. WARNING! DO NOT TRUST WWW.ROUTESLIP.COM! Seriously, routeslip is awesome, but it doesn't tell you what the road signs really say! So we missed a turn here or there. Yes, I felt like the dumbass of the month, but we probably only went an extra 5-7 miles overall. Not so bad, but bad enough that it still pisses me off a bit. Like Dennis said, "That is why they call it being on an adventure!" We made Murray within 2.5 hours or so and I was already hungry again. So, we stopped for a bit and ate. Yes, all of us ate!

We then cruised the 40 or so miles to Winterset. We were really in a groove during this section and flying pretty good. We made the 80 miles to Winterset in a little over 7 hours total I believe. We headed out of Winterset and made it to Adel, but decided to keep riding to Dallas Center. It was here that Steve told me that he was done. I was totally shocked as he had been riding strong all day. BUT, I also understand how that feeling can creep up on a person as well. He had about 15-20 miles to ride home against the wind. It was great having Steve along and I wouldn't doubt he will give this ride another go down the road! Thanks Steve for everything.

We donned our lights (with some help of some zip ties! Thanks Matt!)

BTW, I love the Princeton Tec Apex light. Thanks Dave!

So, we headed north on the flat roads of central Iowa! The only problem was the 15 or so miles into the wind that was coming up! I had been dreading this all day! We finally got to the pavement and I got on Dennis' wheel. He was pushing and I wasn't exactly in his draft as I would have had to ride out in the middle of the lane at night so I just stayed on the white line. Dennis is much more powerful than me so it was hard staying with him for these few miles until one of the climbs out of the Des Moines River valley where I let him go. My achilles tendons were on fire and I had to take it easy. We headed north for a few miles to Ledges State Park where we took a bit of a break knowing the the next 11 miles were going to be hell going into the 20-25 mph winds. We took off within 10 minutes. I had told Dennis that I had to pace myself during this time as I didn't want to fry my achilles. I stayed within a half of a mile of him, but I am sure he was going easy. I think I was going 9-10 mph down the gravel. We finally made State Street in Ames.

This is where we (I) ultimately made some mistakes that led to our decision not to finish the ride. I learned a lot in Ames that I will NOT repeat at TI. First off, we stopped at Matt's house and put away the bikes and then walked about a 1/2 mile to Pizza Pit. We ate and took our time and then walked back. We loaded up the food, etc and then took off from Matt's. We made it to Ames at around the 145-150 mile mark by 10:20 (about 14 hours after the start)so in my mind we were making good time even with all of our stops. Dennis and I did very little talking during this time. It was like I was just pushing the pedals and was tired. We hit the three miles of gravel that connects Ames and Gilbert and it was pretty soft. This sucked. I couldn't get the thought out of my head of what the gravel north of Gilbert must have been like with 6 inches of snow just two days before followed by 50 degree temps. I am sure it would have been pretty soft and possibly muddy.

We rolled into Gilbert and I asked Dennis how he was feeling. He told me that he had plenty of energy, but was very sleepy. I was as well. It was just before 1:00am at this time. We had been biking for over 18 hours. Dennis refused to make the call so I did. I wanted to take a hot shower and to sleep with my wife. I am sure Dennis wanted a bed as well! So, we left 115 or so miles on the map to be done on another day. Could we have finished, no doubt about it. I had the energy and if I did Dennis surely did. But, sometimes it is just smarter to sleep! I think we finished with about 157 miles including the ride down to the border, in an estimated 16 hours. Not bad for the breaks we took!

We will see what happens at Trans Iowa this year!

Check out the route here and pictures here. Make sure to check out Dennis's page and Steve's page.

Happy training!