Archive for June, 2008

Keep Yer Pants On

Alright, alright. I will post something. It has been a busy couple of weeks, I have been working and riding a lot, because I ride a lot you understand… The flood is receding. The kitties have brought in a live mouse and chipmunk in the past week. The mouse is now living in the attic… I took the BL Bikes At Work Trailer to carry home the dehumidifier I bought for our creepy basement. The Bike Library has been doing steady business, I have captained rent a bench for the past two weekends and it has brought in some money to further our goals. A really big thick Black Walnut branch fell out of a tree in our front yard and I chopped most of it up with an axe. Ira has been staying at our house when he is not building his parents new one and he claims orange cats are the sexiest. Ritchie agrees!

Hope your summers are going as well as mine is and I will have some new stories and photos up here soon!


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The Ride Was Stormy That Day My Friends

Iowa City is a nice place to live but it has issues, sure it does.  Residents complain of parking shortages (ride yer bikes people), a lousy football team and even drunk college students that sometimes puke on their own shoes.  As of late the biggest issue here in yet another of our nations many self proclaimed “river cities” has been that river.

After a couple of days rising stinky waters, sandbagging and road closures Brian and I decided to get out of town and have a nice easy ride.  We had a tough time even deciding on a route as the many road closures are hard to keep up with.  We finally decided to ride our cross bikes for maximum versatility and to head south.  It had been a beautiful day and we were excited to go but just as we were about to leave a big storm appeared on the radar just north of town.  We were planning to head south so we rolled out anyway.

It was nice to be out and we wound through town before heading south on gravel.  The storm behind us was most impressive and it seemed to be either following us or spreading out to the south so we were constantly right on the edge where the sky turned from sunshine and happiness to dark gray and chaos.

As we rode south the storm seemed to keep pace right with us and after traversing our first B road, which was in great shape, we turned west where we could get a better look of things to the north of us and what we saw made us sad.  Then both of our cell phones with their damned payloads of coltan started ringing.

I am going to digress for a moment to discuss coltan.  I just learned of it last week over lunch and have been doing some reading and it is a complicated mess to be sure but there are some simple things you and I should do to help.  First, lets get educated!  If you just glossed over the link above why don’t you go back and click on it and read up?  My blog metric equipment will let me know how many of you do so make me proud!  Once we are all aware of the problem lets spread the word, contact our legislators and make smart decisions about our consumption.  Cody and I have been wondering if we need cell phones for a while now and if we decide we do do we each need one?  Also, do recycle your old electronic equipment, don’t throw it away!

Back to the ride then, our cellphones started a ringing.  I got a call from Ira and ignored it, then a text which I read but also ignored.  Then Cody called so I answered and she told me exactly what Robin was telling Brian, the storm was raging in Iowa City, dumping hail and the tornado sirens were going off.  Crud.  We were still skirting the storm but reportedly it was no longer moving northeast but southeast.  We decided to head to the Hills and take shelter!

The town of Hills is eight miles south of Iowa City and has a Casey’s and not just one but two bars.  We had to go through road closed signs and then pass through concrete barriers set up in the road to prevent people from crossing the bridge that was just barely over the raging Iowa River.  We should not have crossed but the storm was still right on us so we did it.  Just on the far side we see Alex from WOB riding our way and we tried to deter him but he just laughed and kept on his way.  The town of Hills was totally sandbagged in, we had to climb over the wall to get in.  There were some people milling about and I must say I felt a bit like jerk tourist being there, out for a pleasure ride while their entire town is facing some rather serious trouble.

Nobody paid us any mind and we rolled into town and decided to go to the bar where we imagined they would have a television showing the weather.  And beer.  It was as we figured, we had beer and chips and salsa and watched the radar.  Calls home urged us to make a break for it as there was more to come.  We made a plan, finished our beers and took off.

We had decided to head west a bit more and then ride gravel into town.  The storm continued to follow us, we were still right on the edge, and as we turned north the wind switched from south to north and the temp dropped.  We saw a big picture perfect lightening strike right in front of us and decided that maybe we should go all the way out to Sharon Center and ride in from there.  The sky sure looked inviting over there.

So we headed that way only to remember that there was a bridge that way and we had no idea if it would be open or flooded.  We stopped and discussed and in that time it seemed that the storm with its incredible cloud formations finally decided to move on and the gravel into town looked like the way to go.  There was, of course, a bridge to be crossed taking this way but we went for it and the water was where it belonged, down in the creek.  We made it!

Back in Iowa City safe and dry and the sun came out and it was kind of a nice day.  We had been out longer than we had hoped and the whole town is in a weird state of mind right now so it was kind of eerie.  The stoplight at hwy 6 stopped us and there were very few cars there and the left turn arrow was on so I said lets run it and we did, just to hear a police siren kick on behind us.  Shit.  We stopped, the light turned green and the officer pulled up.

She asked us to explain why we ran the light and I went into some kind of weird trance like state and just laid out stream of consciousness style that we had been out and got caught by the storm and made it in and sometimes big stoplights like that don’t trip for cyclists and we saw the arrow and assessed the situation and saw it was safe so we went and all we wanted was to get home safe and if she wanted to write us a ticket we would take it.  She maintained the cop-like stern demeanor and told us that the storm was gone and that if we wanted to ride bikes we should avoid roads with stoplights or something like that.  Which is ludicrous, but we had just blatantly run a stoplight across a four lane state highway so we did not contest this issue.  She told us to be on our way and we went.

Quite an exciting easy ride!  We were on the wrong side of the Iowa River and there is only one bridge in town still open now so we rode across and saw the raging water and the incredible sandbag defenses of the University of Iowa up close and we made it home in time for dinner.

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S24O in Minneapolis

We went up North and got Ira and brought him back with us.

We stayed with the dogs again, their people made me a fine cappucino.

Ira looked pretty good considering his previous 36 hours on a train!

We stopped at On One and ogled the goodies.

We went to CRC Coffee Bar, too, for more of the same.

Wishing we had more time to spend we thanked our host and drove south.

It was a long drive, as any drive is.

But we had Ira to catch up with and the flooded out roads around Cedar Falls were

at least a diversion, if not a nice one…

Home again and there is water everywhere, wish us luck!

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On The Road Again

Well it has been a quiet week around here, lots of recovering and beer drinking and raining going on. I took a trailer from the Bike Library and rode our recycling down to the place. It had gotten a bit out of control!

I thought that my rear wheel might fold but it made it through. I would have like to have rolled the touring townie for this mission but I bought a shiny new crank for it but it hangs way out there with the existing bottom bracket and it messes up the front der, too, so I need to get a new one in there. It’s going to be a smooth riding machine. Someday.

In other news, Cody and I are off to the Twin Cities today to visit our four legged friend Arie at his beautiful house. We have not seen him since FrostBike so it will be good to catch up and if his humans are around we will be glad to see them, too.

We are going up to retrieve Ira. He is coming home to help his parents build their new house and it will be great to spend some time with him. We are planning to hit a few of the sights up there before driving back down. Likely On One, The Cars R Coffins Coffee Emporium of Hurl, The Grease Pit, The Hub and maybe the Seward Cafe.

Work has been going well, I really like bikes and I am looking forward to getting back to the riding of them after this trip north.

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DON’T PANIC or how I learned to stop worrying and love the dirty kanza 200

I went down to Kansas with local blogging sensation Brian for another riding of the Dirty Kanza. We left Friday, stopped in Des Moines for coffee and a blessing but Kim was busy making or eating a burrito or something so all we got was the coffee. The drive went as well as a seven hour drive can go and we were at the hotel at 6. Checked in to our room and then the race. It was nice seeing so many of the people I met last year, more than 2 asked if I was going for the repeat… Went to Casa Ramos again for the pre race dinner of a big beer and super tasty enchiladas and then back to make the final prep before sleep. I slept pretty well and woke up at five.

We had bought some microwave breakfast sandwiches at the store and that was breakfast for me. The weather channel was showing a big and red and nasty looking storm moving around just to the south of us. Joy. We got ready and went to the start. Big group out there! It was pretty exciting to see so many riders ready to go on such a grand adventure. Promoter Joel told us that the storm was threatening and they might delay the start to let it pass. I was okay with that as I figured I could get a better breakfast but they made the call to send us off so we went. I stayed at the front through town and had a brief chat with Dan Hughes before we hit the first gravel. It was pretty gnarly, a nice hello, but soon enough it was back to regular old gravel. The pace seemed higher than last year, Dan was up front quite a bit, and we rolled some miles.

I saw Brian stop with a fender problem, talked with Cam Chambers for a bit, ate some food and played it cool. Brian came back, we rode some hills, the group whittled down to eight and I was impressed at the speed we were holding. At some point we encountered a loose and spooked cow that thundered along next to us in the ditch, wild eyed. Scary stuff, I assure you. Last year there were many more close-cow encounters than this year, maybe it was because the ride was 2 weeks later and the herds had been sent elsewhere?  The storm was still there, much lightening and darkness to the south. Thirty miles in I was hanging on to the back of the pain train as I was calling it and decided I could not possibly maintain the pace for another 170 miles so I sat up. Looking back I saw no one so I settled in to my happy pace and soldiered on. Brian came off the back a short while later and we got together and rolled in to the first check in Madison for a new map and some Casey’s love. The lead group was already out of there.

The woman in the Casey’s seemed unhappy to have us there, I asked in my best polite voice if I could please use the kitchen sink to fill my bottles, through tightly pursed lips she said yes. I filled them, grabbed two hash browns and was ready to go. She tersely told me I had to zip up my jersey, I put my food and money down, zipped up, and my money was gone. Vanished! I looked around, she told me my total again and looked at me with unsympathetic eyes as I exclaimed what just happened to my 30 bucks! No help. I checked my pockets, the floor, Brian bought my food for me (thanks!) I looked around on the counter. Nothing. I was agitated, went outside, checked all my pockets again, went back inside. Nothing. I have no idea what happened to that money, I hope some 8 year old kid buying bubble gum will find it wedged down in the packs and it has not wound up buying someone Camel Light 100’s and scratch lottery tickets. Or gas!

We rolled. I was still trying to choke down my hash browns. The rain was threatening. I was grumpy. We hit a deep water crossing. On a rocky section I lost a bottle out of a cage. We were riding with Jeremy Fry now, who lives in Cedar Falls and rides for Mercy. I did not know he was coming so that was cool to see him and it was nice to have another rider in our little group of Iowans. It spit some rain at us. The course this year was the same as last but for a reroute around some deep water. I was sad to see that was the part I had last year deemed some of the best gravel I have ever ridden. The new section was great as well, we were deep into the hills now and when you get up on top of them the views are tremendous. We stayed together for a long while and kept a good pace. Somewhere I lost them, I was pulling and then I was alone. We were 20 miles or so from the halfway check so I kept rolling figuring I would see everyone there as I was planning on a good break. I saw Dennis fixing a flat and kept on, caught a rider who had been in the lead group when I left it and rolled into the check feeling pretty good.

Got my map, hit my drop bag for chain lube, sunscreen and food. Joel reported that Cam and Dan were still hammering away at the front and that only one other rider had rolled on as far as he knew. I felt good about my position and wondered if those two could keep it up and went to Casey’s. Filled the bottles, ate the pizza, sponged off in the bathroom, applied the sunscreen, watched lots of riders head out, talked with Dennis, bought a small bottled water to take with me for insurance and Brian came in. He had suffered not one but two flats! I told him I hoped to see him up the road and took off.

The next section I remembered as being long and lonely and sure enough, it was. It was quite sunny and humid, I don’t know about the temp but it had been forecast to be in the upper 80’s. It sure felt hot to me. I saw very few riders on this loop. On an extremely rocky descent I lost another bottle and this one exploded. Thirty ounces of precious liquid gone in an instant. I passed another rider fixing a flat and caught up to one at around mile 140. I was riding a good pace but had some nausea. Mostly out of habit I stopped at Bummies for water. I sat outside and ate some peanuts and crackers and drank to try and get myself ready to eat hearty at the Casey’s which now was just a few miles off, I was there at 5.

My goal for this event was first to finish, may I never take that for granted, and before dark. Beyond that I was hoping for top 5 and yes, a repeat would have been grand. Long ago I knew the repeat was out. At the halfway point I still thought I could muster that top 5. Now, as I ate my pizza and drank my fluids I knew that my motivation was gone, my stomach was unhappy and I was riding for the finish. I rolled over to the check and got my last map and sat in a chair in the shade until 6. It was about 45 miles in and I knew that if I was rolling well it would take me 3 hours.

The heat of the day was over and I felt okay as I left but I could not get my legs going. Last year this was my best section of the race but this year that second wind never came. As I rolled along I kept looking at the map and I thought of just riding straight in and taking my dnf, but after the big hill (you know the one) I stopped and had some peanuts and kept on. Saw another rider in Americus, he cruised right on by. I had a gu about 10 miles out, saw a wild turkey running around, rode the nastiest B road of the ride which was badly rutted out and as I rode my last gravel I watched the beautiful setting of the sun. Back on the sound and smooth pavement of Emporia then and there was lots of car traffic and it all seemed fast and noisy but it is a short distance to the finish and before I knew it I was there.

The big digital timer told me I had been out for fifteen hours and while I almost fell over doing it I kissed that clock. I think I heard I finished 12th but I could be wrong. I picked up a nice and shiny cyclo-puter before walking to the hotel room to take my well-earned puke. Brian was already in, he had taken a ride from the last check, and he helped me collect my drop bag and bike and we went and got some dinner that I could barely eat. Gotta love it! I passed out on the bed and woke up at 2 in the morning freezing. Got under the covers, woke up at 5 starving. Ate cold onion rings and went back to sleep.

Before leaving we saw Joel and Jim who run this show and man are they ever good people!. I like this event very much and everyone is very positive out there and it is great to be part of it. Jim had a great ride to finish 4th. The details are all fuzzy as the full results are not up yet but Cam tore that course up in under 12 hours! My helmet, cap, jersey, shorts, socks, shoes and gloves are off to him, that is a stunning ride. Seems like it is all in a days work for him which makes it even more stunning. Dan took an hour off his time of last year to further pad his best in the business Kanza resume (1-2-2) and I know there was at least another woman finisher and D Pals came in on his single speed at 2:30 in the morning! I again made it through with no flats and no navigational errors.

Further details, results and photos as they are available.

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