Archive for Ira Ryan Cycles

Highlight Real


Did I scare you? Months of no blogging. Months! I just won’t stand for it, so here we go.

Post Cheq 100 cashing I fell into a deep depression.

Then I felt better.


I rode the Cheq 40 in September. It was a really fun trip and I had a decent ride on the Salsa again, single again, 32×15 this time. The 40 and the 100 are different sports practically.

Angry Minnow Brewpub

Northern Wisco is great! I talked my way into a preferred start, sort of, Gate 3. First time I have ever warmed up at Chequamegon.

Cheq40StagedBrief race report: I went faster than I ever had, but everyone else did, too.

Moonshine Metric was up next, a 100k gravel ride up in Mount Vernon. I rode up and back as is my custom. It was a good night out on the bike, a fun course, only got off course once.


Moonshine Metric by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

The wackiest route I have ever ridden, maybe. Did not just feel like I was going in circles, I was going in circles!

I did another mountain bike race, the Mullet Fall Classic. This was a hard ride. I geared out the Salsa 1×10 style and was glad I did. I rode the marathon category which gave us 3 hours and 15 minutes to ride as far as we could, and whatever lap we had started before 3 pm would count. I looked at last years results and it looked like 6 laps was the jams, so that is what I was banking on. This was a silly idea, wound up doing 7 and hurting a lot. Garmin was on the fritz so no pretty map, but the splits tell the tale, I went slower and slower until I stopped.

Mullets n Dreads

Then, a cyclocross race in actual muddy rainy conditions – way to be Iowa! I rode out and back dodging the rain and won some money so it was a good day.


That wound up being my only CX race of the season. Fall life was more about cutting splitting and stacking wood which is pretty satisfying work. Heated the house with the woodstove exclusively until the Triple D weekend when I had to leave town. And thus I turned on the furnace.

Triple Dumb Salsa 1×9 by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.


The TD was interesting. I felt pretty good for the duration, and warm, too, which is always nice. I repeated my mantra <I am not taking this seriously> many times through the day. I ate pizza while riders came in and breezed out of the halfway check. And I took a 10 minute Pabst break with 10 miles to go. Still had a satisfying finish based on these criteria:

  1. I did not take it seriously
  2. I had a beer
  3. Finished in daylight
  4. Stayed warm
  5. Top 10 (bonus)

That gets us pretty close to now. I went to Cyclocross Worlds and coached Sven Nys to victory from the sidelines. (true) I went to the NAHBS and cluttered the internet with pics of bikes not many people can afford.

NAHBS 2013 Denver

I also hurt my leg while I was there walking around, standing around, drinking around, etc. Trouble persists to this very day and I have wondered if I was dealing with a muscle strain, or some vascular issue, or just lame old plain old tendonitis. As I fumble my way towards warmer temps and the healing powers they always bring to my extremities I am fairly certain it is all tendon. Despite this, I did a bike race yesterday, full on road style with skinny tires and one token rider in shorts, as required by the cycling gawds. They also took a shift lever from said beshorted participant so that none of us should suffer flat tires. Praise!

Masi CXR Hills Classic 40 by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Raced the 40+ category, I am old and happy about it. That gets us up to now. I missed a few things, but hell this is just a blog. Upcoming excitement consists of working a lot at the bike shop, Kent Park this weekend if my leg allows it, hopefully a mountain bike race in April, Almanzo Royal 162 in May, another crack at the Chequamegon 100 in June with multiple gears this time, then another blogging depression before a strong push through the autumn season possibly starting with the Chequamegon 40 which I may or may not have signed up for geared this year. I can’t remember!

See ya around.


Leave a comment »


Last Saturday was the Dirty Kanza 200 and I was there representing for the 30¢ Squad.  I rode the MASI SSCX.  I ate a lot of King Size Salted Nut Rolls.  This was my fourth ride at Kanza, and in order to get the most out of this year’s exciting story, I suggest you first brush up on your history with a read of my first, second, and third DK ride reports.  Refreshed?  Let’s go!

The bike is set up pretty close to my old reliable LeMond Poprad for fit, but I went with the new svelte saddle it came with rather than my usual Selle Italia.  I also tried new tires and went with the 700×35 Schwalbe Marathon Extreme instead of my usual 700×32 Ritchey Speedmax.  Gear was 39 x 17.

The drive down was all about pre hydration, the forecast was plenty of sunshine and highs in the 90’s.  We arrived, checked in, and had another awesome pre race meal and beer(s) at Casa Ramos.  The Dirty Kanza starts at 6 am, so you have to get up early.  We got up at 5 and were out the door at quarter til 6.  A 3 mile ride to the start saw us show up at 3 minutes until go time, at least that is what the police officer told us.  No problem, backed it in for the front row, fiddled with this and that and off we went.

photo from Emporia Main Street facebook page

Section 1: 58 miles

I was in it to win it, so I made an effort to stay at the front.  We rolled out of town and hit the gravel which makes this event what it is and I was pretty comfy holding wheels in the frontish area of the field.  I drifted back, I drifted up, a few times the field split at a corner or just when a tandem decided to push the pace a bit, but it kept coming together again.  I wandered around and said howdy to some folks I knew from previous Kanzas.  One thing that occurred to me, not many Surlys around the front of the gravel grinding scene anymore, but plenty of the custom, the carbon, and the ti.  Oh my!

About 30 miles in there was a big whooshing sound from up ahead and the separation finally happened, a group rolled away.  I was happy to let them go and ride my own singlespeedey pace for a while, as far as I could tell there was one singlespeed in that group.  I got on the back of a small group, we were still in the open range so cows continued to roam all around us, and I just hung out taking it all in until Dennis and Corey came by us.  I got on my gear a little bit and went up to them just to say howdy and see how things were going.  Riding for a bit at speed was nice to catch up on stories, but not so good for staying with the group I had been in, so I soldiered on alone once the D & C train had left me behind.  There were a couple of good kicker style hills here, steep enough to get me close to stopping even, but I gutted them out and rode over the top, wondering if I would pay for the effort later with some cramps…

photo from the Chamois Butter facebook page

Nearing the first check I was surprised that I had drunk all of my on bike liquids.  Holy crap, I said aloud, it is not even hot yet!  But it was true, I had put down 2 liters of Nuun and a 22 oz bottle of water besides.  It was not even 10 in the morning!  I made it into the first check feeling fine, and very happy with the way things were going.  Support man Jeremi was there nursing his hangover and we had a quick chat as I loaded up my fresh bottles and grabbed another King Size Salted Nut Roll.  I was a bit worried about on board liquids as the heat continued to build so I grabbed a couple of Gatorades at the C store to drink one and pocket the other.

Section 2: 44miles

Back on the road for 44 more miles.  This section started off with a fair bit of tailwind so I had to just settle down and ride, let the wind push me, and keep my hydration and eating going.  I did not ride with many people on this section as most of the people around me were geared so they just rolled by while I was limited by my gear.  I enjoyed the scenery and ate a Pro Bar.

At mile 78ish there was a confusing part on the map, 2 unmarked turns in a row, and a big group of riders already standing there trying to figure it out.  Confusion reigned, some folks rode off in a couple of different directions to see where the roads went.  I held tight and drank some Gatorade, not wanting to ride any further than I had to.  There was a consesus on which road to take and a group took off, but I was still not convinced so I kept waiting with some other folks.  We had quite a group going, looking at the maps, compasses were out, and I was fretting that I had been stopped for at least 10 minutes at this point, when Matt Brown of Emporia rolled up and said we were going the right way.  So off I went, back in traffic and a bit grumpy about it, but what can you do.  Looking at the map after the event I know I could have just looked at the map closer, it was right all along.

photo from the Chamois Butter facebook page

This road was awesome, I remembered it from 2 previous Kanzas, and it is totally rocky and remote with a few water crossings.  I had been caught by 2 singlespeed riders at the navigation stop and rode with one for a while but we seperated on a climb.  Shortly after I thought mine eyes were playing tricks on me when a recumbent passed me, but sure enough this phantom was real!  John from Florida, part owner of the Bacchetta company, and here he was riding the DK200 on a recumbent.  I was impressed!  Our paces had a real tough time matching, so I wished him a good ride and we rolled apart.

Just before the check I was caught by another singlespeeder from Chicago.  We rolled a short bit together, but I had to stop to pee so I let him go.  I kept my pace steady all the way into the checkpoint, and was happy to see that I was almost out of liquids again, I was drinking plenty – or at least as much as I could comfortably carry.  I took a 30+ min break here.  Called Cody to let her know how it was going.  Sat in the shade.  Ate food.  Rubbed ice all over myself.  Drank Gatorade.  Reloaded my bottles.  Had potato chips.  Grabbed another King Size Salted Nut Roll.  Talked with Jeremi and a guy from Eskridge.

Section 3: 60 miles

I rolled out alone at 1:30 facing a 60 mile stretch with no services, the heat of the day, and the feeling of the 100 miles already in the legs.  There was a lot of tailwind here, so that was something.  I was still feeling pretty good, but sometimes my stomach would go a bit funny.  It became a game, wait for my stomach to settle, take a bite of King Size Salted Nut Roll, and then wash it down with Nuun.  Kept all my systems going, except for my rear tire.  Descending a hill at about mile 120 it blew.  I was pretty bummed, hoping that the Marathon Extreme would last the day, but no.  Major bonus that I rolled right into the shade, and the puncture was super easy to find.

Got passed by a few people while I was changing it, and rolled on just as Eric from Nebraska was passing so I jumped on with him.  We rode some miles, talked about how we were feeling, and joked about calling it quits at 200 kilometers and just telling people that yes, we had finished the D200K.  At some point we seperated, gears and singles don’t always mix, and I rode some more alone, rode by another singlespeeder who was walking a climb, and saw Dennis sitting in the shade.  Looked pretty nice…

Dennis got up and moving and caught me soon enough.  We had a chat about the heat and rode pretty slow for a tailwind section, but glad to be staying in motion.  I was still feeling okay at this point, but was beginning to worry that there were still about 30 miles to go to the next check, and the heat was definitely working on me.  How long could I last?  A quick look south changed everything, there were huge clouds, they were dark, and they were about to block out the sun!  It happened soon enough, the temp dropped in an instant and I was back to rolling full steam ahead.

I could see a couple of riders ahead, but chasing on a single in a tailwind is futile, so I just kept chugging along.  There was a beautiful B road here, miles of grass covered dirt road, it was really smooth except for some big rock sections, and I was having a blast.  Came to a water crossing with a sharp rise after it and I had to hit it hard to get over it on the gear, still riding everything!  The two riders up ahead were really close now, and then there they were, standing at the top of a hill.  Corey again with another Nebraska rider named Dale.

We rolled along and laughed about the clouds coming in, wondering if maybe the wind could possibly switch again and push us back to Emporia from the last check.  It spit some rain on us, and Corey stayed on the gas and left Dale and I behind, we chatted some more and then he jumped up to Corey.  Riding into town the wind started to whip, the thunder started to crash, and I was happy to get to the check before it let loose.  Got the last map and found Jeremi at the car.  I was going to do a smash and grab here, take 2 bottles and some food and roll, but 2 things happened.  A squeeze of my tires showed the rear was super soft, and the storm landed.  So I ran for the shelter of an overhang, and got to change my second flat in relative safety and comfort while the rain lashed down.  Even had a floor pump!

The storm blew itself out pretty quickly, I hit a C store for a bit more food while it finished up, and then I was rolling out.  Saw the Nebraska guys, Corey and Dale and James were just saddling up as well so we rolled out together, 43 miles to go!

Section 4: 43 miles

The route was a rail trail for a few miles out of town so we rolled pretty quick on the flat grade.  It was still raining, but not storming, and the temps were way down now, so it felt really good, I felt really good, too, and even the legs felt really good.  I was not sure if I could hang with the group or not on the single, but was hopeful I could catch any singlespeeders remaining out in front of me.  I had an idea there was just one, but it is really hard to keep track of who is where going through the checkpoints, so I actually had no clue what was going on except that I was 43 miles from being done.

So we rolled, and the wet roads were really soft in some places, mud and rocks flying all over the place.  My shoes were getting filled with pebbles which I fantasized were massaging my feet?  The rain petered out, and the skies looked clear ahead all the way to Emporia.  Our little group was chugging right along, slip slidding through some sections but morale was high.  Mileage eludes me, but we came around a bend and there was a group stopped.  Joe Fox and Tim Ek, I don’t remember if anyone else was there, but the mud and rocks had claimed the derailler of Joe’s nice bike and they were trying to single it.

photo from Corey’s blog.

We stopped, they worked, the other geared folk started to clean their drivetrains, I waited a couple of minutes, asked if they were all good and then rolled on, solo again.  I bet I rode 150 miles solo this year?  Back on the road and the single was doing awesome in the constantly changing conditions.  Shortly I rode through another low and muddy part, saw another geared rider walking with his bike on his shoulder to get through, and then on the climb out I rode past another singlespeeder walking the climb.

I kept at it, the legs were feeling fresh and I was not just riding, I was putting power to the pedals, which is a great feeling after riding 170 miles.  The route was going south, and I saw a lake on the map to the west of Americus (last town we would pass through) and I just knew it was the one we had ridden around on previous Kanzas, and there was a monster climb there.  Looking ahead it was easy to know it was true, a big ridge loomed.  We would see two big climbs to cross it.  The first had me wondering if I could ride it, the gravel was still soft from the rain, but I had no problem.  I could see another rider ahead, so that kept me motivated.  I ground up the climb by the lake and was happy to see that I was riding it faster than when I had done it geared!

Over the top I could still see the rider out ahead but he had a pretty good gap on me.  The route swerved east and we even went back north a bit to take us through Americus.  I caught the rider ahead at some point, and just after we turned onto a B road.  It was a 2 track with tall grass, and a short squat powerful animal exploded out of the grass and took off down the road in front of me, I have never seen a Badger before but I knew immediately this was a Badger!  Super cool, he was running for all he was worth, and I did not want him to decide that fight was better than flight so I hung back and yelled at it a few times to get it to clear the road.  It did, but it dropped its dinner (big snake) to do it.  I hope it came back for it, sorry to startle you Badger, but you startled me, too!  The guy I had just caught thought maybe it was a gopher but I know me a Badger when I see one for the first time!

So on we went, I left the other rider behind, the road into Americus was SUPER bumpy and I whimpred aloud, “oh come on already”, as there were still miles to go and my sitting parts were feeling pretty done with the whole bike seat thing.  I got chased by a dog, not a pretty sprint I am sure.  Had to remember to eat, 43 miles is still a long ways, so I cracked another King Size Salted Nut Roll and had a bite or two.  Drank some more Nuun.

Getting close to Emporia, and close to sunset, and I could not see any riders ahead or behind.  I kept the pace as high as I could, and did not have to turn the lights on until the edge of town when we popped out on pavement.  I rode into town, took a wrong turn (whoops) and rode across a big parking lot before realizing that last year’s DK markers were still on the pavement…  Back on track, back on ESU campus, back on Commercial Street, and back across the finish line!

There was a huge crowd.  Lights!  Cowbells!  Cheers!  It was awesome to be done, Jim Cummins came over for the handshake and congratulations, and told me 11th overall and 2nd singlespeed.  We talked over the day, the flats and the heats and the storms, I thanked him and congratulated him on another amazing Kanza adventure, and then he had to go welcome in the next finisher.

So I never did catch that last singlespeeder, but I am super happy with my ride.  I did not cramp all day, I rode the entire course, I got a pint glass and a bag of Swiftwick stuff.  Plus I had a good time.  What more could I ask for?  Big thanks to the promoters and organizers, the city of Emporia, the sponsors, and all the other riders for being part of such a great event.  I hung out for a while, talked with other riders, cheered in other finishers, ate pizza, called Cody and my folks to let them know I was done.  The support crew was still back at the 3rd check waiting for a really muddy tandem so I did not have my clothes to change into and did the podium in the 30¢ Squad kit.

I really needed to get out of the shorts so I loaded up and rode the 3 miles back to the hotel for a shower – out of the saddle the whole way!

Comments (5) »


Finally got off my duffcake and ordered up a MASI for official 30¢ Squad Business.

Not the Gran Criterium I pined for in the Spring, the IRA RYAN could not be denied, but this bike will get much more use in the crummy weather months coming up.

It has been a long time since I have been on an aluminum frame /  carbon fork.  Not sure what to make of the component mix.  10 speeds, just in the back!  Might have to go SRAM as a 1 by setup.  Or I could just take it back to my reliable 9sp Dura Ace.

For now it is just get bike, build bike, ride bike!

Leave a comment »

Post Ride Report!

Lots of blogs on the internet today are devoted to the dissection and discussion of two wheeled athletic endeavor.  I myself have been known to ramble on about this or that ride I have gone on, solo, in the company of others, in races.  I have boasted, lied (true!), told it like it was and how I wished it could have been.  There have been pictures.  The word epic has been employed.  (Lie!)

Well today, dear reader, I have a treat for you!  I will tell you nothing of tonights ride, but rather relate what came after.

I was enjoying a beer at a downtown establishment with a few of the fellas I had ridden with when I got a text message.  It was from Cody, and it was almost 8pm, and she was still at the shop!  I told her I would be right there, bid my companions adieu and went to the shop.  It was really hot in there, so I took off my shoes and socks and put on floppers and, still hot, took off my jersey.  Cody was working on a tricky coaster brake issue on a Magna that was driving her crazy.

As we were talking about it, a couple of people came and looked in the windows and got to see a nearly naked me!  I put my jersey back on, but my bib straps were hanging down.  So I closed the shop up while Cody finished the repair (long day Cody – BIG CHEERS FOR CODY!!) and we got ready to leave.  I pulled my bib straps over the top of the jersey, kind of ragbrai fashion or something, and we left.

Okay, if you are still reading, good, because this is the best part coming up!  We had to stop at Cody’s art studio which is above the Vine on Gilbert.  So there I am, it is almost dark, I am tired, I am wearing sunglasses, floppers, and have my bib shorts pulled over my jersey.  I am leaning over the handlebars of the IRA, just looking at the ground, when a nice College Kid with a messenger bag says, “That’s a nice bike!”  I said thanks.  He said he has an old Centurion and he thinks it is cool to see someone else riding an old steel bike because most of them have been turned into fixies.  I told him I could not agree more.

He walked off, Cody returned and we went home.  Respectfully submitted, the post ride report.

Leave a comment »

Crawling In The Deep End Of The Pool

So apparantly training all spring, doing some crits, taking a two week taper, riding 211 miles in one day, and then taking a whole week off does not equal success on mid-June Iowa City College Green Park A rides.

Damn it!

Really enjoyed my week off, by the way.  Got back on the bike on Sunday, a couple hours of gravel with the usual folks.  Then many fine homebrews at Joe’s Garage as the rain poured down outside.  Had a great 90 minute morning ride on Monday on the townie.  Tuesday night I went to the park, I was heading for the B ride, but intersected the A on the way so I just went with it.  Felt pretty good, actually, rotated for a bit, and made the decision to pull the plug halfway through so as not to damage myself too quickly.

Yesterday morning I had another good 90 minute ride in the morning, I even did 4 little intervals to try and get my legs back into go fast mode, and after I was looking forward to tonights ride.  Until tonight!  It was a small group, it was hot, and it was windy.  We did the classicist of all the classic IC rides, the Edens Loop.  All was well for a while, I took some pulls, but then I got tired, and then I did something that was either ambitious or stupid or both, and then I was alone.  Not even halfway through the loop, but almost.  So I suffered along, got my tailwind, kept the pedal to the metal, and still made it back in well under 2 hours.  Them rides are hard.  Hope I peak soon…

Comments (1) »

The Dirty Kanza Adventure

Another Kanza in the books!  The 30¢ Squad of me went down on Friday in the company of Steve McGuire and Adam Blake for the Dirty Kanza 200.  There had been much logistical contention this year, with lots of people from the area going, so we had to work out hotel rooms and cars and such.  A last minute subtraction from our group, Dave Pals got sick the night before and was unable to come with us.  Sad news and we missed his company.  I will spare the travel details, other than every stop as we neared Emporia it seemed to be hotter out.

Saturday morning we rode to the start for a bonus 3 miles.  I was on my usual rig, the Poprad.  Funny that I can’t even remember who rode over, but I know Blake and Steve Fuller, I think Paul Jacobsen? Others?  I dunno.  We got to the start line and it was hopping with lots of racers this year, have not heard an exact number but 150+ seems like a good enough estimate for blog purposes.  I had nothing to do, everything was set, so I hung out until they said go at 6am.

Photo borrowed from Corey through the wonders of the internet

It was forecast to be a hot and windy one, and it was already nice and warm as we rode out of town.  The gravel began and we all settled into the smooth spots, which made us two long lines.  Just 5 miles in I had my first challenge.  The bottle cage I had mounted under my downtube and subjected to rigorous testing slipped under the pounding of the Kansas countryside, and my 28oz bottle started rubbing on my front tire.  Not good!  I was not about to stop and mess with it at this point, so I pulled it, slammed it, and tossed the bottle.  Sorry Kansas ecosystem, but my pockets were full – there was nothing I could do.

6 miles in and a bottle down already, I was feeling pretty good.  We were trucking along at a fine pace, and the group was thinning.  This was a new to me course, but the first leg was mostly over familiar terrain, and I even found myself anticipating some turns.  We encountered a loose cow that loped along in the ditch for awhile.  We hit some climbs, I spent some time at the front, and the group thinned out.

22 miles in I had moved back a bit and was enjoying some draft when someone ahead caught the lip of a rut in the road and went down.  The guy in front of me, who I now know as Troy Krause, ate it and I got to run over his nice ti Serrotta, which I did until I lost momentum and fell over.  I got up cursing, there were five or six of us on the deck.  I asked around if folks were okay, Dennis Grelk had taken it on the chin but was up and picking up his bike, people mostly agreed that this sucked but that they were alright.  I jumped on and was pissed to see that the 9 riders who had made it through the crash were not waiting.

A look around showed that a few of us were up and moving, so I wanted to catch on to tell them to wait for 1 minute and we would all be together.  I tried for 5 miles, I got to a point where I was at the bottom of a hill they were just cresting, but by the time I reached the top they were way out there and lined out.  I knew it was over for chasing so I let it go and went to my own pace, still stewing that they had not waited.

Photo borrowed from Corey through the wonders of the internet

This section of road I last traveled in 2007 and I declared it was the coolest gravel road I had ever ridden.  It is still pretty cool.  The open range, lots of climbing, loose fire road style rocks, cows on the move, and water crossing a plenty.  I was happy to have my rear fender on to keep my shorts dry.  The ride was beautiful, by the way, it was  a hot day but the sky was clear and the countryside was green and I tried to remember to look around as much as I could to take it in.

I passed a rider who had a flat, he said he was all good, and I kept on trucking solo until the big hill (you know the one) where he caught up.  He went right by and I was content to let him.  After the climb we finally turned out of the wind and maybe 40 miles in (I gave up my maps) we turned North and got tailwind.  I was feeling good so I put it in the big ring and let it roll.

Photo Jed Sampsel

Got into the 60 mile checkpoint, got my maps, asked how many were in front.  About 10 was the word.  Headed to the Casey’s to do some resupply.  My missing water bottle was a concern, but it was nicely replaced with a smaller bottled water.  Filled the mammoth bottles and tossed in some Nuun, put 2 more small bottles in my pockets (not messing around!) and slammed almost all of a 32 oz Powerade.  There were a couple of guys in who had ridden the DK Lite in the morning but had kept on wandering around until they got to Cottonwood Falls and they wished me luck.  I said thanks and took off, still rolling solo.

Out of town on pavement, past the huge courthouse, and out on the road that had brought me into town and the last checkpoint in previous Kanzas.  Riding the road I recognized a few things, like that my rear wheel had a decent hop in it, and also the store Bummies, which I had stopped at during both other Kanzas I had ridden.  Not today, I waved and kept on.  Very excited that I needed to pee, hydration was working even as the day continued to heat up.  I took care of it on the fly and kept rolling until about mile 70 when I had to stop and check on the rear wheel.  It was out of true, yes, hitting a Serotta will do that to a wheel.  A quick crank of 3 spokes set it right and I was off again.

Shortly I was caught by another rider aboard a fine Ira Ryan rig!  His name was Joe Fox, I complimented him on his bike and we chatted Ira for a bit.  We kept talking and found out we not only both owned Ira Ryan bicycles but bike shops as well, so that gave us plenty more to chat about.  We got back on gravel at some point and rode smooth and steady.  We encountered a few other riders, a Sunflower guy who had no lights, and then a couple of High Gear guys, one I remembered was Tim Mohn.  We talked over old times, got a dust bath from a passing pickup truck and rolled into checkpoint 2 at about Noon, 100 miles down in 6 hours.

I was excited to see the support car there, I was out of all liquid but for the emergency store under the downtube, so I tore into my cooler, dumped my trash, and loaded up my fresh bottles.  I had an organic bottled coffee that was awesome, and I replenished my pocket food.  The first half I had eaten 1 Clif Bar (impressive, eh?), 1 package of Clif Bloks, 2 cheesy crackers (crackers, not packs of crackers), and 1 king size Salted Nut Roll.  As I recall I had also drank something like 190 ounces of Nuun while in motion, plus most of a 32 ounce Powerade at the previous check.  Done with the cooler I headed to the local C Store for some serious lunch food.

Rolling up I saw a couple of racers out front and we said howdy before I went inside.  Pizza never fails at these moments and they had 2 slices for me.  I also drank a Gatorade and got 2 more bottles for my pockets.  I went out to eat and met Salsa guys Joe Meiser and Tim Ek.  I complained of the folks not stopping at the crash and Tim said not to look at him, he had just been barely hanging on.  Oh well.  He also said it looked like I had only ridden 10 miles.  I dunno if he was being serious or trying to mess with my head, but I felt pretty good just the same.  They took off a few minutes before me, I chatted with a woman who was running support for her husband and then I rolled.

Another 40 mile section ahead, still lots of tailwind for it.  I was rolling well, not pushing the pace, just keeping it steady.  Saw Joe and Tim stopped with a flat, they said they were good.  Saw Jeremy Fry from Iowa also stopped with a flat and he too said he was fine.  I saw lots of folks with flats over the course of the day but overall I think I heard less about them than in years past.  Maybe folks are starting to figure it out down there?  Anyways, I rode this entire section alone.  I almost missed a turn where a guy with a horse trailer had parked and obscured the course marker, but I caught it out of the corner of my eye and barely went past it.  The clouds moved in for awhile, which was perfect, and for a minute it even rained small drops on me!

This section contained Little Egypt Road, which had quite the reputation after last years ride so I gave it due respect and took it easy on the downhills.  It was rough, but it was a neat section, some tough climbs for sure, and some big rocks through there.  One of the best sections of the route, though, this is why you do gravel road races!

Rolling into Alma at mile 140 I was astounded to realize that I had yet to cramp all day, or even feel like I might.  I had again drank all my liquid save the emergeny bottle under the downtube and it seemed that the Nuun and the Salted Nut Roll were working to beat the heat perfectly.  Into the 3rd checkpoint, 140 miles down, and I was the 5th rider in.  I had good appetite so I went into the C Store and filled the bottles, ate some food, chatted with some locals.  They were impressed / stunned / pitying when they heard we had ridden our bikes over Little Egypt.  Joe Meiser and Tim Ek came in, a rider named James was there, and as we understood the 3 leaders had left 30 minutes before.

There were no more checkpoints for the race, just a last chance C Store in 25 miles.  I cut down on water for this section, figuring it was not worth carrying the weight.  I rolled over to the checkpoint to chat with Joel, co-promoter, and he gave me the skinny on what was to come.  I needed the fat…

Joe and Tim were rolling out, and I saw Joe Fox come in.  We talked for a minute and he said he would see me in Emporia.  I laughed and said I would see him up the road.  Out I went, and just as Joel had told me there were big climbs coming up.  He described it as 3 climbs, all 2 miles long.  I describe it as hell.  The first climb was no trouble, though it did go on forever.  I was coming up on Tim and Joe near the top and was still feeling fine as I began the descent when my tire blew.  I was sad, I thought I was immune to Dirty Kanza flats after 2 clean down there, but now I knew the truth.  I stopped and went to work.  The tire had a few nicks in it and I located the hole in the tube and lined it up with the tire and booted it there.  After reinflating I looked the tire over again and saw I had missed a sidewall tear that was showing tube, so I had to do it all over again and boot that, too.  James rolled by, and a big pickup truck stopped and the driver asked if I needed help, I declined, and he said oookaaay with a roll of his eyes as his drove off.

Tire inflated, wheel back on and off again I was.  I had no interest in trying to make up time on the three I knew were just ahead, so I just rode my pace.  The climbs were relentless, the sun was back out, and it was from Alma that the course turned back to the South some to get us going back to Emporia.  That put us back into the wind some, and also put the Sun right in our faces.  It was hot, as hot as it got all day.  Then, on another descent, a rock kicked up and hit the emergency waterbottle under my downtube and just blew that bottle apart.  Uh oh…

I kept on my way but things were turning for the worse, and I was feeling it.  I saw James laying in the shade and stopped to check on him.  He said he felt fine, just hot and was going to drink a full bottle before continuing.  He seemed good so I kept on.  At mile 155 or so I came across Joe and Tim walking back at me.  Joe’s rear shift lever had imploded and would not work, they were going to try and figure it out.  I told them I was hurting and Tim said there was a nice breezy shady spot just ahead.  I rolled on and there it was so I stopped and just stood there.  I drank the last of my Nuun.  I ate the last of my Salted Nut Roll.  I got attacked by flies and bees.  I got moving.

Later I was caught by Joe Fox and he said he and Meiser and Ek had just had a hose down in somebodys front yard.  And I missed it!  I should have just turned around right then, but I did not.  Joe told me we were just 4 miles from Eskridge and the last C Store, it might as well have been 400 miles for how I felt.  As Joe rode away I thought I saw him get off his bike and walk a little section, I wondered what was up there.  When I got where he was it looked like nothing so I kept on, but it planted a little seed in my head, why not get off and walk a bit?  So rather than stand in the hot shade with the breeze and the bugs I decided to walk up a hill.  It did not help, but it was nice to be off the bike and the bugs left me alone.  Cyclocomputer showed 2.5 mph!  I got back on and rolled to the next climb which I also walked.

Got back on and stayed on.  The last climb into Eskridge I was passed by the Salsa guys and Tim told me to hang in there.  Cyclocomputer showed 6 mph, they must have been going at least 7!  Followed them in to town and the last supply point.  Joe Fox was outside and gave me some potato chips and water he had left.  We talked, he was feeling good and decided he should roll or he thought he might lock up.  He assured me that the last 40 to town was much flatter, but I could not believe it, I needed to get it back together.  Joe took off, only 2 were still on the road ahead of us, go Joe!

I went inside, got an ice cream cone and some water and a Gatorade and set to work.  While I was there lots of exciting stuff happened.  People puked.  A rider gave me half a bag of ice which I rubbed all over my arms.  That was nice!  There was some good storytelling and joking.  A few of us discussed the desire to suffer a major mechanical so we could retire with dignity.  Tim said the last section had made him want to cry but when he closed his eyes just some dust puffed out.  Lots of riders came in, I was sitting outside a lot so I cheered them in.

The first time I paid for my stuff at the C Store the nice lady at the register told me to have a good day.  When I went up at 7:30 and she told me to have a good evening I knew it was time to leave.  Not only was I feeling recovered, I was feeling fresh!  Out of town alone again, the gravel was plush and I was moving.  The sun was low in the sky, the wind had switched a bit and was pushing me in!!

Then the course turned and it was some overgrown doubletrack for a few miles, with a narsty stream crossing in it.  It was no pushover, this race, even the flat roads at the end that were taking us back to Emporia were rough and you had to pay attention.  I stopped a few times, to change my glasses, to get my headlight set, to eat potato chips.  I saw a fox run across the road in front of me as the sun was setting.  Off to the Southeast there was a huge thunderhead that started flashing lightening.  The wind was really whipping on occasion, too, and I was wondering if I was going to go from roasting to freezing through a thunderstorm during this race.

About 12 miles out it went dark, and I turned on the lights.  The headlight I had was brand new, I had pulled it off the shelf and out of the package as I was packing for the race.  I had used this very type of light before, but this one had a short in it.  It would flicker, and go completely black, and turn back on, and go to flashing mode, and I had to whack it everytime it misbehaved and it would go back to solid high beam for 30 seconds and would then repeat.  I was sad.  Then I saw a gravel ends sign and a big white dog chased me and I had to sprint and yell at it in the dark and I dropped it and then the gravel did end and it was a B Road and someone had driven their car down it when it was wet and weaved back and forth and left nice sweeping ruts now that it was dry and I hit one and my bike went one way and I started to go the other but I clipped out my left foot and slammed it down and about broke my toe but I stopped and stayed upright, too.

So I kept going, the lightenting above me and the wind whipping around and the lights of Emporia growing steadily brighter.  The navigation was easy, not a lot of turns and the course was so well marked I could just roll.  When I crossed the Interstate and was back in town I saw a blinky light on a stick off to the left and was thinking, “What the hell is that?”, when I realized it was a course marker so I turned a 180 and followed it, they were all the way through town to the finish line.  Folks were clapping and cheering and ringing bells and I was done.  16 hours, 11 minutes and 13th place.  Jim and Joel, the co-promoters, were there and they gave congratulations and we had some good laughs.  I had ridden another Dirty Kanza!  I keep getting slower!!  But this time I did not puke afterwards!!!

Photo by Michael K. Dakota

They had quite the party going on downtown and I hung out for a couple of hours and watched racers finish, watched the podium ceremony, talked to people, and ate some food.  It was a good time.  At 12:30 am or some such time I rode back to the hotel for more bonus miles, and took a well earned shower, and went to bed.  211 miles behind me, and one hell of an adventure in the books.

Comments (7) »

Old Capital Criterium

My blog has become a dumping ground for race reports and nothing else.  I must try harder to bring back some kitty content, at least, and maybe even some observational humor.  For now, this is it, enjoy.

Last Sunday the 33rd annual Old Cap Crit took over downtown Iowa City.  I first rode this race almost 20 years ago as a cat 4.  8 speed STI and ti rail Flight saddles were all the rage and I had 7 speed downtube shifters on my Trek 1200.  I placed 18th, for which I won $5.00!  Over the years my placings and category varied, culminating with a top 5 in the 3’s and being spit out the back in the 2’s.

This year as a 30Cent Squad rider in the cat 3 race I had 9 speed STI, a ti rail Flite saddle, and an Ira Ryan custom steel frame and fork with cantilever brakes.  Rain threatened, and I had decided not to race if it fell, but it was all dry and blustery when we took off.  The Old Cap is a fun course.  Lots of corners, a screaming downhill, and a climb big enough to hurt you but small enough to let you rip it over the top if you are so inclined.  I never was.

Picture courtesy B McConnell, see me hiding in there?

My start was awesome, I was at the front and just settled into it.  There were some teams there with some decent numbers and they sent riders away and there were some chases and some primes and at some point I noticed for a few laps in a row we were doing 30mph on the big police speedometer thing.  I felt pretty good in the race.  I was moving up when and where I wanted to, cornering well, and really enjoying my second crit in 2 weeks / 4 years.

We did 25 laps, and when we got 6 to go everything was still going well as we headed down the hill, but then the corner arrived, and the rider in front of me had some kind of issue and suddenly had his inside foot out and was going all cyclocross style into it and shi-whoops, he slid out and ate it.  Being on a finely crafted bicycle with a straight blade fork I just cranked it hard to the inside and made it past what sounded like rapidly amplifying carnage behind.  A quick look over the shoulder confirmed, anybody behind me was on the ground or gone.  A quick look ahead showed that a  gap had indeed opened from me to the field.

I punched it and got back on by the base of the climb and was feeling all proud of myself, but honestly I was a bit shaken by the near miss.  We came back to the start/finish and those that had crashed and risen again were being pushed back into the field.  I was bummed to be at the back and now have guys just getting back into the field in front of me.  Things were not as they had been…

Then it started to lightly rain.  4 laps to go, I am still at the back and not at all happy with my position in the field or the precipitation or the guy in front of me who I think was in the crash and kept messing with his bike and farting around through the corners.  Did I mention the race was almost over and I was tired?

I fought on for a lap, and when the guy in front of me who had crashed and was then messing with his bike threw his derailler into his wheel on the climb I mentally said UNCLE and just gave up.  Came through the start/finish with 2 to go just off the back and figured I would just roll it in solo.  Which I did.  For 17th place.  I thought that might have been good enough for another $5.00 but I guess in this economy all I won was being done.

Leave a comment »