Archive for April, 2008


This morning I was doing some online browsing for some bike stuff and in addition to getting up close and personal with a Dura-Ace 12-27 cassette and a Sugino 175 compact crank I scoped out some pedals. Looking at the offerings from MKS one pair stood out that was quite pricey I thought until I saw that it is the choice of top Keirin pros in Japan. Enough said, I thought, and surfed over to u-tube to watch some racing!

Tonight I took what I learned and applied it to the Iowa City A ride, albeit with narrow shoulders and skinnier biceps and quads and I won a sprint! Without crashing anyone! The thing about Keirin racing though? Once they sprint they are done, they sit up. The A ride keeps going and I did not know what to do from watching videos so I got dropped. Poop. A large group of us went and had some beers after the ride and that was nice. I think this scenario will happen a lot this coming summer, but hopefully without the getting dropped part.

My limited impressive performance on the ride may also have been influenced by the Rage Against the Machine albums that Cody recently put on our computer. I listened before the ride and it put me in a slightly different frame of mind than my usual

afternoon Morcheeba which makes me feel like el Duderino listening to whale songs while smoking a joint in his tub.

I wish I could put into type that sound he makes when the cops call and tell him they found his car.


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Marking Time

This has become a crazy cycling weekend in Iowa. You have the always popular and aggro Iowa City bike races with the Saturday RR and Sunday Crit. There is the Tour of

Photo ©: Mark Zalewski/

Georgia which is usually showcasing local homey Jason McCartney, plus that trans-iowa thingy and the Decorah knobby time trials, too. Lots of bike stuff happening for the Iowa enthusiast. I awoke yesterday morning at around 4:45 and thought of the TI gravel riders up around Decorah somewhere. I heard the wind howling and smiled and went back to sleep. Later, when I rode our recycling down to the drop place I saw Mike Meister unloading his and said howdy. He finished last years event and I thought it was nice that two past finishers were just going about their daily grinds and I sure was happy to be one of them.

I got out for a nice four plus hour ride with Brian. We rode some gravel and stopped by the finish of the road race to see yet another past trans iowa finisher (they are everywhere around here!) Jim Cochran get second in the 40+. Back in town and a check of the internets showed that Jason had ridden a good chunk off the front at the days TDG stage and was now in the KOM jersey. It was a pretty exciting stage and I was happy to see that the calculating racers were beaten fair and square on two counts that day.

We had Chad and Dorothy from Des Moines stay with us and we had a nice Thai dinner and drank a few beers before bed. We gave them the comfy restibule for the evening. It caused some kitty confusion but those little buggers have it so good they need to have their worlds rocked every once in a while.

Today we lazed around for a bit and John stopped by for pre race instruction and then Cody and I rode down to watch him do his first crit. That kid is a natural I tell ya! He did not crash and came in with a respectable

top 20 finish. There was some heckling, we got some food, we saw friends, the cat 4’s put on a great show and local cyclebusinessperson Geoff brought home the bacon with a devastating acceleration out of the final corner.

Then I was off to work, which was slow so I asked for furlough and it was granted! Back to the races and I got to see most of the 2’s, which was exciting and our steady and smooth handling Canadian Jeff Barnes a.k.a. the Rock Lobster made the break of three! It was great watching him rolling it and while his younger competitors narrowly bested him in the sprint he is still the pride of Iowa City!

That Dierking wins in some short-shorts, no?

And speaking of shorts, they trimmed the trans iowa course down by 100 miles so five join the finishers ranks this year and I suppose that technically it finally has a winner other than Ira even if it is technically by technicality. Will it go on? The popularity amazes me, and when I read of people coming from so far to dnf so early I can’t help but marvel at their gumption. To each their own.

That is all I have to wrap up this stellar cycling weekend, hope you had as much fun with it as I did and I’ll see you somewhere next year. I hope I am in Georgia!

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Ennui Unillustrated

I got my Chequamegon postcard in the mail yesterday. Looks like I was feeling all sassy and registered for the SS class. I am going to leave the Bridgestone at home and roll the Salsa but it is a long way off so I won’t bore you with details.

Did the ride on Tuesday, I was curious to see how my legs would feel after the previous week of riding that included both the “A” rides plus that loooong day to Des Moines. They were okay! Admittedly the pace was slow for longer than usual but once it got moving it was as zippy as ever. I mixed it up for awhile, went for a sprint which I botched badly and only got dropped at the very last acceleration of the last sprint. Stopped for a post ride beer with the team and didn’t we look cute in our brand spanky new ATLAS clothes? You will have to take my word for it because I don’t have a picture of the stuff yet.

This weekend is the big Iowa City road race and crit. I will not be lining up for either for a variety of reasons, but mostly just because I don’t wanna. So there.

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There And Back

I did the ride to Des Moines on Saturday to attend the Iowa Bicycle Coalition annual face-off board meeting. This is when we all get together in one room rather than conference calling which is what we do most months because we live all over the state.

I left Cody and home at around 6:15 in the morning and had high hopes of making it over with time to get lunch and even a shower before the meeting at 3. I had only done this ride in one shot once before so I thought I could do it in 7 or 8 hours. Oh the folly of me! Certain factors came to play that would see me walk into the meeting at 3:30 still mostly salty from the effort. Numero uno, it was windy and it was going in the wrong direction for my needs. It was not a strong wind but it was steady and just felt like a hand on my chest pushing me backwards. Second, I was riding the Touring Townie and it is heavy. To add to the challenge I had panniers which caught even more wind and on

the way out of Iowa City I found these huge and heavy bolts in a bike lane so I picked them up and threw them on the rack for good measure.

So We have headwind plus heavy plus 100 miles or so and then, as I approached the East side of Des Moines where I can hit gravel to avoid miles on a big highway I found yet another reason I should have left earlier, the gravel is wet and slow and my loaded bike and tired me were not up for miles of it. I detoured back onto the big scary road. I was trucking along and still going to make it by 3 when I see one more reason come over the horizon. My side was shut down for a bridge replacement. You know the drill, all traffic funneled onto one side for a spell of two way travel. I stayed on the shut down side because there was no way I was going to go ride in a construction zone. I got to the missing bridge and, as they were constructing, the ground was oozy-clumpy-mud and I was not sure I could carry my loaded bike across without dropping it in the goop and I did not want to shuttle bike then bags across the wasteland so I crossed the median and waited until there were no cars visible behind me and then sprinted across the bridge and golly if there was not a paved road headed south right on the other side so I took it and found my way into Des Moines from there. Much nicer!

There were a couple of rides on in Des Moines, the Mayors ride and a bar ride so there were lots of bikes out and I passed two bars full of the RAGBRAI crowd on my way in and it was tempting to stop and see if my long ride over would garner me the pleasantries of any free beers but I had not come to party so I kept rolling and made it to the meeting after a quick bathroom sponge bath at 3:30. Not bad, considering, and when I was able to stay awake through the meeting and not get all crampy or anything I felt really good about the ride as an indicator of my ability to ride for a long time.

Speaking of which, Dirty Kanza 200 is looming at the end of May and after the last week of riding I am feeling confident about it. Here is an edgy video of some of the Kansas crowd pre-riding this years course.

Had some quality Kim West time after the meeting and Sunday morning we townied down to Zanzibar’s for great coffee and breakfast before I was whisked home once again by Todd and the Team Skin-Mobile. I worked the afternoon away at the part time gig and then had dinner and a beer or two with Cody at the Mill.

The TT bike did well, I am not sure when but I am going to switch the bars, I am just

not a moustache man. I need to find a longer crank, the 170 did not please me. I also wish Crank Bros made a single side clip / platform pedal for my touring townie lifestyle. Other than that the bike was great and I look forward to more long loaded rides with it. Hopefully with no appointments!

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Ups & Downs

They have the final results posted from Ouachita, and after being told I had finished 42nd and then seeing I had fallen to 44th in the first online results I am proud to see that I have now moved up to 40th! Exhausting stuff this endurance racing. It’s like it never ends… I am just happy to have done the ride, this is one that I did not say never again after finishing and I do hope to get down there again, but there is no rush.

Did the group ride last night. It was warm and windy, we rolled the flat and fast Edens loop. Cross winds were where the magic happened and I played for a while but not well and then finally had to sit in for the last long time to town. It was 53X12 time for me and we made it in from Lone Tree in just 30 pain filled minutes. I feel like a schlub when I can’t take my pulls but I was heartened to make it in with the lead group. Probably 2 hours 30 minutes total for the day, can’t complain.

Today is my mountain of a hump day. Got in some good chore work this morning,

building a cold frame so we can get some spinach growing pronto. One is almost done! Just have to screw the hinges to the box and fill it with dirt. I have to work both jobs today and then I am going to ride over to Lefler’s for Bike Night

to say howdy to folks and thank Kenny for tweaking my bike for me before that knobby race. It’s a long day…

Looks like I am riding to Des Moines this weekend for an IBC face to face Bored meeting, going to get a ride back with Team Skin, them kids are everywhere I tell ya!

Last thing, this is a road prize from December but it has been wadded up in the shed since, dug it out for the photo, not my longest road prize but it probably wins the square feet award. I loves the freebies!

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Paging Mr Grelk

Cody found this awesome video on Bike Hacks of a shared propulsion vehicle made by Michel de Broin. This is the only way I would ever consider riding trans iowa again and I think THIS is the person to make it happen!

the video is here

Think of it, a four person team, who cares what the weather is doing or what tires to run plus ample storage space for gear and food. I am sure we could come up with a lighter car to more easily ascend the hills around Decorah and the horn would need to be operable to safely clear competitors out of the way on the downhills! Maybe Ira will join me in renouncing previous trans iowa renouncements?

He can drive with his big fat trans iowa resume in his pack pocket, but I get shotgun! And what say you, DG?  Up for engineering and building one of these suckers?

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Fringe Benefits Part 3

As a cook I have access to many rubber bands from bunches of broccoli or asparagus or what have you.  For years now I have tossed them into the trash with little thought but now, having seen Brian’s Rubber Band Ball I have been inspired to create my own.  Here it is, riding a Flight saddle!

A closer view, compliments of Cody.  Notice the variety of band width and color.

I have but a painful and draining month left in the commercial kitchen before I am back to civilian cookery and likely fewer rubber bands but I promise to keep you all informed of noteworthy girths the ball might achieve.

In other Fringe Benefit / Road Prize news I found a screwdriver on my ride with Brian this morning.  It sports a Phillips head and is well balanced to fight ergonomical fatigue factors and stuff.

The find added to an already fine morning on the bike and we rolled three hours.  With the two plus hours I got yesterday that is not a bad weekend considering all I had to do.  The weather looks to be improving for the week ahead so I am hoping to get more hours in.  Hope you can too, if you are into that kind of thing

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