Archive for November, 2007

Take This Request & Stuff It

Last night Cody and I went down to the Old Capital Brewery to drink a couple of huge beers and help stuff (1,400!) envelopes for the IBC’s year end give us your money drive. There was a pretty large group of helpies and we cranked the job out in just a couple of hours. We shared a table with our old boss from the International World of Bikes, Ryan. Chatted about bikes and babies and such. A few of you lucky readers will be receiving “special” messages on your envelopes in addition to the regular pleas. Don’t be angry, I was drinking when I wrote them. Just give money to the IBC, it works for all of us!

So this has been a light week of riding. Just the usual car-free livin’ commuting stuff plus a couple of extendo-townies and a nice hike. I also defied in-house oddsmakers and lifted weights again this morning! I’m gonna get all burly and stuff.

Uploaded a new weblog header image – that is me on my old Univega with tubular spinergy wheels riding up Snake Alley whilst Ira cheers me on with beer in hand and cowbell a clangin’. Those were the scariest wheels I have ever owned. Ira is wearing not just that Cannonball helmet but also my super schnazzy green suede Hush Puppies but you can’t see them as they don’t fit in the header. Maybe I will pan down next week so you can see what you’re missing.

The weather looks downright epic this weekend so I am not going to do any stinking 100 mile rides, I have a month to ride 2 and I have almost 2 weeks of that time off so no reason to rush it and wind up with a head cold or bulbous quads or anything like that.

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Stop Training!

No reason to go through all the rigamaroll of training, traveling and racing because there are good people out there doing it for you! Stay indoors in climate controlled comfort and read about the adventures you might have if you were not so clever.

Try this!

or, if you are looking for just an hour of adventure,

Go here!

In other news, I lifted weights this morning. It won’t last…


A sorority quote I actually liked but probably because I did not know what she was talking about: Its a great day to be me!

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Jingle Cross Wrap-Up

This past weekend the big UCI cross races were raced right here in Iowa City.

The 100 person field thundering into the barriers on the first lap was quite a sight.

Beers were drunk and run-ups were run

Team-mates worked together

The fans heckled, cheered, got drunk, took off their shirts…

Dreams were born!

Pants removed…

The mulleted men of Chequamegon 2007 worked together again

Todd Wells rode the run up every lap and won both days. Jeesh.

And one of these wild and crazy guys (<–) got some UCI points!

It was a grand time. I was super impressed with Todd Wells, the day 2 run up had a tight corner at the bottom and a couple of logs down to make riders dismount. On Todd’s first warm up lap he came around the corner and rode over the logs but lost enough momentum he had to clip out. He turned around, rode about 10 feet away from the logs and had another try and easily made it. Brian Mater, midwest mountain bike phenom, tried four or five times and never made it. First lap of the race Tilford got in front of Wells before the climb but it did not matter, he was still able to ride the climb and he got a gap the first time up. Tristan Schouten stayed with him for a few laps and I think he rode the climb once but that was it, he exploded and Wells rode solo most of the day. It is nice to remember in this day and age where lots of top riders are accused of drug use that a big part of racing and winning is bike handling skill and natural ability and such and Todd Wells sure does have some of them “mad skillz” the kids are always talking about.

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Travel, Fellowship & Cross

My break is done, I am back in the bowels of a sorority. What a week! First off was the trip home, the whole family was there and both my parents aged without trouble. Whew!

Next I rode 200 plus a few miles (see previous post) in two days and went out for a sushi feast with Cody and Brian and Robin.

Wednesday was all about resting. I read The Monkey Wrench Gang again over break and many pages were turned on this day. That Ed Abbey sure was brilliantcontroversialfunnysadpassionateandsexist dude. Pull up them survey steaks, kids, wherever you find them but maybe don’t drive a bulldozer off a cliff. Visited Open Shop Night in the Leflers well equipped garage (do you have a Park Tool Schwinn kickstand tool?) for drinking and lie telling.

Thursday we had a visit from old friend and renaissance woman Kim Shafer! A brief bit of catching up and then we we off to the farm that raised Ira for some tasty vittles (shallot casseroll!) and wine and coffee and more wine, thanks so much! A bit of snow had fallen the previous night and it was a cold and beautiful ride out and in, too, under a mostly full moon.

Friday was buy nothing day and I hope you all spent nothing, we did! Not. We spent no money. There it is!  Take that capitalism! More reading and lying around, you know-the free stuff.

Saturday began the Jiggle Cross, Iowa’s first ever UCI bicycle race. Craziness! A good and fun day spent heckling and drinking beer and coffee. Saturday night was the social townie event of the season, a low turnout due to the below freezing temps but folks needed not worry, one banned bike ride through Hickory Hill Park and we were all sweating properly. Beers at the Legion until they kicked us out. Sunday was day 2 of the Jiggle Cross and the racing was fast and furious once more. Pictures will be ready tomorrow so I will do a better race report when I have them.

Back to work then!

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Closing In

I am fortunate enough to get a week off work for the celebration of our ancestral continental thievery. I decided to use two days of my break to roll out two more gravel centuries for the dirt cup and just to keep it “real” I did them back to back.

Monday morning I met Brian at College Green Park for the 9th gravel century. It was very foggy and around 40 degrees. We rolled out at 8 and went to the Northeast for starters. I really like the gravel roads up that way and the moisture of the last couple of days had made the gravel and B roads very user friendly. The fog was projected to break at 9 and that was a lie. We got good and wet as the beads of water soaked into us.

Near Solon we turned to the East and went North of Cedar Bluff and past Buchanan to cross the Cedar River and head into West Branch for Casey’s. Nice conversation and no views. We had some tasty vittles and went back for more, around halfway done. Brian was feeling tired as most of his training lately has been townie riding to school and back so he turned into Iowa City and I kept going alone. Again. Sniff…

Finally, as my on-bike computer told me I had ridden 68.1 miles, the sun came out! I was

well on my way to the wilds found Southeast of Lone Tree at this point and the accursed mass of incandescent gas had me sweating and gulping all my water in short order. I removed a layer or two and soldiered on to my intended turnaround where I was able to let the wind push me back to Lone Tree and a store of convenience. A quick fill of the

bottles and the last leg back to Iowa City was a breeze. 101.3 miles ridden, 85 of them on gravel. I felt quite spry!

(we bought a new camera)

Tuesday morning I found myself in a large pickup truck heading through another helping of dense fog out to Parnell. Eppen and the Thrillah are building a house out there and they gave me a ride out so I could hit some new roads. The house is surrounded by B roads and after a quick look around the job I was off, wondering what I had gotten myself into. The fog was thick, the wind in my face and my legs were already feeling the previous days ride. I figured they would settle in.

I had a vague plan of action that would lead me to What Cheer, appropriately. The roads were hilly and deserted. I did not see a car until I had ridden 32 miles! I missed What Cheer and set about to the Southeast with no map and no idea where any towns might be found. The fog stayed thick and I hit some awesome B roads. At some point I happened upon Webster which has no Casey’s but did have a sign that informed me that Wellman was 8 miles away by Hwy 22. I was low on water, food and morale at that point so I found a nice gravel road to parallel the highway and rolled it in. Casey’s found, and only 62 miles into the ride! The grumpy staff could not sink my soaring spirits and I left filled with hope and pizza. The gravel to Riverside was a treat and I found myself on some of the roads I had ridden back on the single speed century, the first familiar ground of the day.

I took a pass on the Kalona 4-wheeler trails that have eaten so many derailleurs and quickly found Riverside, just where I had last left it. Finally got some tailwind as I turned north. One mile from town, about 85 miles done, disaster struck. Flat tire! I had a good cry and changed it, my first flat on one of these dirt cup rides. Back on my way and at the crest of the first hill I could see that the sky ahead was a large dark cloud. At the top of the next roller I entered the fog again and the temp dropped significantly and what do you know, the wind switched to the north! Yeah! It sucked, actually. My legs were pretty spent at this point and this change of fortune did not please me.

I rode through Hills and out to the gravel East of there to finish up the 6 miles of rockin’ I needed. The late start and flat tire delay were coming to play here as the daylight started to fade in the foggy gloom. I only had one small light with me so I strapped it to the drop of my bar hoping it could be seen from ahead and behind. I got into Iowa City just before 5 and there was a bit of rain coming down now. The good motoring commuters cared little for my plight and it was a nerve wracking trip across town but in the end I got a hot shower and had a beer. 104.5 miles and 81 on gravel and I was plenty tired but happy to have my goal accomplished.

(says 104.53)

Ten down, just two to go! Stay tuned to this weblog for updates…

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Paradise City

Pic by K Sugahara and lifted from bikeportland

Many of you may already be aware that there was a Single Speed Cyclo Cross World Championship held this past weekend in Portland, OR. Where else? The event looks to have been way cooler than a hundred miles on Iowa gravel. There is a bootload of info on the web, The always relevant and informative local flavor and Velonews even had a good story with photos online. And what is that in those photos besides lots of skin and bikes and alcohol? A trophy built with love and skill by none other than the Ira!

Photo from by G Notson

In an exclusive telephone interview conducted earlier today Ira told me he will not do the trans-iowa again until they make it twice as far and cut the time limits in half and he also told me how he built the trophy and what from. It wasn’t all that interesting so I will spare you but they did have a heckling contest (I would have won) and a dodge-ball gauntlet and a tequila shortcut and freaking rainbow speedo’s for the champs plus that handily crafted trophy.

Well done Portland and Ira, I am in awe of your awesome awesomeness!

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Hump Day Hub-Bubin’

Its Wednesday!  Yesterday I got the afternoon off so I took advantage with a knobby ride.  We in the Iowa City/Core-Of-Evil area have a rapidly developing local system of “unapproved” trails and I spent a couple of hours out tearing it up on them.  It was much fun.  Then we made the first squash soup from scratch of the season and, well, it showed.  We need to alter the recipe for a more full-bodied flavor.  And we will!  Trust me.

Today I got up early and sat around until I got motivated to ride Cody to school.  Then I raced downtown for a quick cappuccino (feeling young today) and then to work a bit early so I could call in to the IBC monthly board conference call.  It is hard to participate and work, my job is noisy and often requires both hands.  I listened intently…

Found a big puddle of water in the storeroom which was traced to the freezer which had an open door and an awful lot of totally thawed food in it.  Disappointing and wasteful.  I suck.  Today I am preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 50 of my closest people who don’t care about me (at least they pay me) and then tonight I am meeting a fellow BL volunteer at the BL to work on finalizing the rental policy for our enormous cargo trailer.

Two more days then until vacation for a week and a trip home to see the family and a couple more gravel centuries and then two days of cyclo-cross spectation (and maybe racing, but I doubt it) at the Jiggle Cross.

I loaded a bunch of pictures from my Appalachian Trail journey onto the flickr page and have gotten a few of them onto the AT page here if you care.  The order at flickr is way off but you can put together your own time line of the hike based on how dirty my shirt is and how short my hair, Maine comes after Vermont after Mass after Connecticut, etc.  I will get them in order for the journal, I promise.

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Games We Play

Cody and I live on a hill. Its a big hill and not steep but it covers many blocks. Riding home is not easy to do easy, especially this time of year with such big temp swings in a day. We generally arrive home in the granny gear and sweaty, too.

Leaving, however, is another story. Our stored potential energy is released in a flood of momentum and we cruise down our gravel easement and onto Reno St at a good clip. Last week I decided to see how far that energy could take me. No pedaling, just onto the saddle and roll away. Our neighborhood has very few stop signs and lots of uncontrolled intersections which helps.

It goes something like this. Down our sidewalk, to the gravel easement and onto Reno St. Pick up speed, roll a few blocks and another turn. Cruising now and the first uncontrolled intersection looms! Peek through yards and such and get ready to slam on the brakes if a car is there as I pass the last house and cut the corner onto to the apex. Roll through another uncontrolled intersection and then bomb another uncontrolled intersection before turning again at yet another uncontrolled intersection.

Speed goes down quickly here but it is possible to continue without pedaling if your hubs are properly adjusted and you have been lucky enough to not encounter a car yet. After the next turn speed will continue to fall for a bit but then the Earth slopes away again and its off to the races once more! Blow a STOP sign (sorry mum) and cut to the sidewalk for a half block against some one way traffic and then cut a 180 out into the street to hit some other street whose name I can’t remember but is a good slope and pick up lots of speed to blow yet another STOP sign before getting bogged down in the next block and coming to a halt about 10 yards from Iowa Ave.

Eight or Nine blocks coasted! I only have to pedal about 5 blocks to get to work, isn’t that nice?

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Hi everyone. [silence] My name is Steve, and I ride. [long pause] A lot. [sobs into hands]

Okay, just kidding, I do ride, though, and on Saturday of weekend last I went out and rode yet another century consisting of 85 miles of gravel and 18.5 miles of pavement. I also rode to a house warming party later that night with Cody on our cruiser tandem but that bike has no computer to tell me how far or how fast, thankfully. Its the gravy dontcha know?

So I left in the morning and it was 32 degrees again and this time, for the first time since the Dirty Kanza, I got to ride with someone! Brian Eppen thought 100 miles would be the perfect leg stretcher before the local cross race on Sunday. Better him than me, I thought as we rode out of town. Took the usual route out to Downey and down near Lone Tree, rode an awesome B rode that neither of us had ever been on before and then rode south and south and south some more until we were in Columbus Jct for lunch at Caseys! I am a pretty regular 2 piece of pizza eater for my mid-ride break, Brian did that plus a bacon cheeseburger. Amazing!

We turned back north then and enjoyed our earned tailwind. I found a wrench and good golly look at that its actually cycling-useful as its a 15mm! Whoop!

Brian turned in a bit early and I had to slog it out to the East again and roll through West Branch before getting to go home. It was a great day and I am happy to have another one down, just four to go! The camera that has struggled so hard to have any part of documenting any of this process seems to have finally died so I offer up this scanned photo of computer and, more importantly, found wrench!

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“Busy” February?

This is November, the most crowded month on my birthday calender.  Ralph and Dave have aged this month and my sister Sara did just yesterday and both Mom and Dad do in about a week.  I felt good to get a card out to sis and even called her, although we did not connect.  For those of you that don’t know she lives in Florida despite her age and is a pilot.  We are all planning to meet in the hometown of Antioch, IL to celebrate my mom’s birthday as this is the “biggy” of sixty!  Hilarious photos to follow, I imagine.

Cody and I are borrowing a car to make the trip as we don’t have one and our nations train system was gutted at the urging of the automakers before we were born just so we would have to make a trip like this by car rather than train.   They won, I guess, the dirty stinking capitalists.  That is all a week away, though.

To the now!

This has been a great morning.  I was up early and finished reading a crummy graphic novel I had started.  Then I cleaned the house, took care of some laundry and made a french press of coffee which I drank all by myself.  This was some of the birthday coffee that Ira sent me that he roasts himself in his kitchen!  I do not usually make coffee at home and I never make it by and for myself (honest, first time!) so this was a special event.  I forgot to set the timer once I poured the water but I was pleased with the non-scientific result I obtained.

Tonight I have a Bike Library steering committee meeting and tomorrow I plan to ride another of my gravely centuries.  This will be the 8th and with my weeklong Thanksgiving break coming right up I am feeling confident I will make the 12 by the end of the year to complete the challenge.  I have been doing recon on a 100 mile Sugar Bottom assault, that would be a tough one for sure but I think I will probably go for it over my break.  What a sucker I am, eh?

I tore one of my freshly patched pants open in a new place this week so a bit of craft upcoming.  Cody seems to be on the up and up but like me it seems it may be a while before she is back to full strength.

See you next week!

Sorority qoute for Jay:   Wait!  I passed out?  Where did you find me?!!!

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