Archive for Moutain Biking

Chequamegon 100 Report

30¢ Squad went up to north Wisco for a mountain bike race this weekend. It was a great trip, stayed at Lakewoods Resort, the host for the event. I booked a room in a huge cabin with 8 private rooms and huge common living area that somehow we were the only ones to get a room in? I will never understand that, but it was nice!

The race. So much happened out there, I don’t feel I can do a proper race report, here is some of what I remember. We rolled at 7am. Big group, I was sitting in the middle maybe? We took off and predictably the front hit it hard. 3 miles to trail and a few hills on the way served to separate things a bit. I lost the first group, (riding rigid 29’er singlespeed 32×18) then the second, and hit the trail somewhere just behind. Even with 3 miles to sort it out it was still a bit of a parking lot getting into the trail.

I relaxed and settled in for the long day. The first trail was awesome! Flowy, rocks, some cool features, and we just ripped it through there. I saw some early mechanicals, crashes, lost bottles and multitools. It started to spread out a bit and I got around some people and was just having a great time. Things kept seperating, and I found myself sitting on a guy’s wheel a lot. His name was Mick as I recall and he was riding just my pace and style so I just enjoyed the ride.

After a time we popped out at a parking lot and there were lots of people standing around eating and such. I rolled straight through, and hooked up with some Des Moines guys just as we went back into trails. I had managed to cram food in my mouth in the parking lot and it took me about 5 minutes to chew it and get it down. I was now sitting on a Salsa guy’s wheel, and was liking his pace, too. Then he took us off course. Just a bit, but we lost 5 places or so. Not a problem, I just went to sitting on a different wheel. This was about 20 miles in, and I started to not feel so good in the legs. I was expecting this to happen throughout the day so I just went with it and lost some ground to the riders ahead. Nobody coming up behind so I just tried to keep it smooth and let the legs come back.

At mile 28 we popped out of trail ( we had just done 25 miles of singletrack and a bit of doubletrack, it was pretty awesome!) and back onto gravel road. There was a tent here, I stopped for a moment, grabbed a Clif Shot from their stores, and took off. Into the rain. It had started raining while we were in the trees and I had not really noticed it yet, but on the gravel road it was easy to tell that it was coming down good.

I rolled the gravel mostly solo, my gear would not let me catch the group just ahead so I did not push it, just rolled and tried to stretch. After a time we got back into trails and it was still raining so things were getting slippery and sloppery. This was a super fun trail, lots of built berms and features by the trail crews. Then more singletrack, I was again hanging on some good wheels through here, and at mile 35 we hit the first super steep sustained slope of the day and I jumped off and walked it. Back on, more singletrack, then back on road.

This was a long section on the gravel to move us over to more trails. It was still raining and I was again riding alone. There were lots of bikes around, I was in the thick of it. It is hard to figure how long we were on the road, but maybe 7 miles? Jumping back onto trails at around mile 45 it was still raining.

This trail was a good deal sloppier than the last one I had been on. It was super fun though, flowy, and not too many rocks to dodge. This is all very confusing to me for time, but wherever the shelter at OO was I stopped and ate some food, there were a few other riders hanging out, then went back on my way. I rode well for a while, but sometime after mile 50 I started to lose it. The checkpoint and my cooler were at mile 60 and I had hoped to make it, especially with the food I ate at OO, but hunger was coming on strong, and I was starting to feel that I might cramp up on a lot of the climbs. So I stopped a couple of times to cram food in my mouth. Got passed by a couple of riders, tried to hang on but could not.

When you are cooked on trails it is amazing how long it can take to ride 2 miles. With the thought of my cooler teasing me and cramps threatening I just did as well as I could and hoped for a proper recharge at the checkpoint. It stopped raining, but everything was soaked,  and it kept dripping off the trees so it was just a wet and sloppy day.

Finally, the checkpoint! I got to the cooler, ate some food, cleaned up a small bit, filled my hydration pack, changed gloves, cleaned up the bike a small bit, and lubed the chain. I spent longer here than I wanted too, but it was the smart move for me, had to recharge for the 30 miles still ahead.

Took off and was feeling better but not great by any stretch. More trail, still muddy, very few people around, and onto the Birkie trail for a long run back up to OO. I have ridden the Cheq 40 a couple of times and was hoping I could roll this section strong but I quickly knew it was not going to happen. So I plodded along, got caught by a couple of people, walked a couple (few?) of the bigger climbs, and generally felt tired while I kept the pedals turning over.

There were some deep water holes on the trail, and some downed trees, too, but nothing that could not be gotten around, just more slowing down and momentum sucking. I rode not with, but near a woman for a while and we had a couple of those painful laughs that come so easy in these situations like how I was walking a climb about as fast as she was riding it…

Finally the return to OO and I decided to take another breather, now 73 miles or so into the course. There were some “civilian” riders here so we chatted and a 100 mile rider who had called it a day, and then a guy rolled in and just laid down on a picnic table with his hands over his face, and then Tim Ek came barreling through, looking peevish, and then my 10 minutes were up and I was ready to ride my last 20 miles so I took off.

Back into the Birkie then back to singletrack. I don’t remember much of this section of trail, we hit road again and then were maybe on trail but anyways we wound up back on a fireroad and it seemed really familiar to me and the road sign said something about a fire tower. As I said I have ridden the Cheq 40 a couple of times so I was despairing that we were going to do that climb which for me at this point in the game was just going to be a loooong walk. But no, we rode up the backside of the climb, much more rideable! So I rode it, topped it, and down we went back to more trail. I was ready-ready-ready to be done with singletrack, but this looked like it would have to be the final section. I had a Salted Nut Roll, Clif Shots and drank a hearty pull out the hydration pack before diving in.

I don’t remember if indeed this was all singletrack all the way to the edge of town or not, I only remember that the last 10 miles were very hard for me in my current condition. Rocks, climbs, downed trees, I was moving slowly and feeling lowly. Then, at mile 84, I saw a bear! It was coming at me on the trail and as we locked eyes I said, “Whoah Bear!” and it kind of made a rearing turn into the brush and thundered off into it as only a bear can do. I was pretty excited to see a bear during the race, and a mile or 2 later I thought  I was seeing another one, much smaller, scurrying around the base of a tree, but this turned out to be a Porcupine! I stopped and yelled at it as it was right next to the trail, and it just walked out into the trail and lumbered away from me, right down the path. I followed at a respectful distance and kept yelling at it, but it just kept lumbering. Shit, I thought, I am never going to finish, when he dodged over a few feet so I jumped on and yelled as I started moving, it scurried away and went back to it’s day.

That was pretty cool! But then the reality of 4 or 5 more miles of trail got in my face and I was back to suffering it home. Which I finally did. Popping out on the last road was a good feeling, riding no hands and less than 2 miles to finish was a great feeling, and when the road turned to pavement it was all I could do to not get down off the bike and kiss the ground.

Rolled it in, lots of pretty clean bikes on cars, happy looking folks standing around drinking beers and I was done! Just under 11 hours total, they told me, and 40th finisher. I’m good with that.

Chequamegon 100 by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Big thanks to the organizers, CAMBA, and all the sponsors and other riders for being part of this, it was a great big day out on the bike that I will not soon forget. I had no crashes, mechanicals or serious navigational challenges, just a couple of stops to look around and be sure where I was going.

As I was falling asleep that night I could not stop riding singletrack in my head, dodging rocks, carving corners, hopping logs. It was strange.

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100 Mile Cheq to Cash

Alright, the only reason to look at this blog lately is to waste time. So waste a little looking at the gear I am going to use for the Chequamegon 100 this Saturday!

I would ride this bike if I were cooler.

But I am not cooler, I am exactly this cool. So I will ride this bike. 32×18, we shall see. Not sure about the bag yet. Going to use a big old hydration pack with 100 oz, plus 2 bottles on the frame. Not sure what to expect for weather yet, I won’t trust the forecast until Friday, or maybe Saturday night… Of course I can adjust right up to go time, but this is the plan.

I put on some new tires. The old ones are old, the rear was especially worn of course. Plus the new ones have bigger logos!

Big logo! Treadier than before! Also, after a looong wait, I got a new pair of mtb shoes. I am not sure this is a good idea, and I only started wearing them last week.

I am a big believer in the don’t rock the boat Jettero Heller theory of if it is working just relax, it will keep working. But them Sidi shoes had been worn out years ago, and my toes were paying the price. So I got some Giro shoes and so far I like them fine. They fit better, the insoles are not destroyed. The cleat area is much more solid, too, I have long been worried that I was going to pull out of pedals or just rip out the bottoms. That is what happened to my last pair of mtb shoes, back in 1999 while warming up for a cx race. Got my entry fee back, which is better than I usually fare when I race!

Okay seriously, how cool would this ride be up there? Pink pedals, ready to roll. Maybe I will bring it along. Or there is always the 40!

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Good Effort

Just finished up another 2 weeks of “on” or what passes for that in my life nowadays. Mostly pretty standard stuff, got to do some group rides, did some solo rides and a couple of easy rides. But I also did back to back long rides this weekend on my Salsa 29’er, singlespeed style, fully loaded for bike camping.

B Ride Cheesehouse by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

My first group ride of the year was quite spirited, and is one of the longer loops we ever do. I was happy with how it went.

Edens Loop B Ride by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Second group ride, not quite as spirited, classic Edens Loop, also happy with how it went.

Sugar for breakfast by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Saturday morning I got out early again for another mountain bike ride. Rode a bit more of the trails than the last time out, and felt a bit better after, too.

Sunday Frytown by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Met a small group for a ride on Sunday, the basic Frytown loop, at a basic pace. Feeling pretty good at this point.

B ride Cheesehouse by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Tuesday night another group ride. I was a bit more annoyed with some riders this night, people were rotating the wrong way, guttering the ride while looking over their shoulder for help, playing cat and mouse 2 miles away from a sprint. I won the “classic” sprint finish of the ride and then sat up before the hilly denoument, enough was enough!

For the weekend, which I got off work, and to finish up my 2 weeks “on” I took a down and back tour to Burlington to watch Snake Alley.

Loaded Salsa SS to Burlington by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

I rode my 29’er, single speed 32×16, loaded. I bought Revelate bags for the saddle and top tube, and a sling to carry a tent on the handlebars. It is pretty cool stuff, and I am very impressed with the weight of it, and how it rides. If I were going to take an overnight bike trip to a friends house I don’t think I would need anything other than the seat bag. I also had a big hydration pack on that was stuffed with the tubes and tools and sandals and toothbrush and what nots.

I was awakened early by screeching owls and thought what the hell and got up and was rolling at 4:30 in the morning. It was a nice ride down. I know the way to Columbus Jct just fine, took the Gritty Brevet course for a while. From there down I used googlemaps.com bike there directions, which kept it mostly gravel. There were a couple of trouble spots, but mostly it went smoothly and I got to ride some cool roads every once in a while. I had thought to try and get a century in, but I wanted to watch some Snake Alley so when Burlington was close I just went in to see the action.

Loaded Salsa SS home by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

I stayed the night in Burlington and left early again Sunday morning to ride home. It was hot, 80 at 7 in the morning as I rolled out of town. There was a good south wind for me, with a bit of west to it. So mostly I had tailwind except for when jogging west. It was a tour of convenience stores as I was not in a hurry and had time to stop at every one I passed for gatorade and ice cream sandwiches. Past Riverside I turned west for 10 miles on the Gritty Brevet course to see if I could come up with 100 for the day. As I was laboring out into the wind I considered that I don’t much enjoy riding 29’ers on gravel, just because they are slow. And I don’t recommend loaded single speed touring. But here I was doing both! It all worked out okay, once I turned for home I basically had 20 miles of tailwind. I thought I might not quite get the 100, but it clicked over just a few blocks from my house. Whew! Rode out for a burrito later, so I padded it nicely. I took a bunch of pictures, will try and get them on here soon – much more interesting than the words. I did find a tool, and saw a possum, and a raccoon, and a deer or 3, and a turkey, and a wild cat, and some dogs, and a bunch of run over snakes, and got pestered by lots of red wing blackbirds.

So that is what I have been up to, rest week time for me! 2 more weeks of on, then another week off, and then – dun-Dun-DUN – the Chequamegon 100!

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Rest Week Activity

All over but the resting. Had a good week off, got in some quality active recoveration. Slept. Ate too much. Drank too much once. Rode my mountain bike on trails for the first time this year! The Chequamegon 100 will fall to the forces of the 30¢ Squad!

Hills recovery ride by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Sharon Center easy by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Sugarbottom SS cruise by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Frytown by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

The other days were townie bike miles, usually an hour or so. And that is it, I am rested. Tried to pick it up a bit today on the Frytown loop, get the legs moving before doing group rides this week. Six more weeks to peak, hope I can keep it up!

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Here We Go

Lots to report! I finally rode my new cross bike. Built it up last fall SRAM Red 1×10 with lots of stuff I would normally never ride.

Like a carbon BB30 crankset, really expensive brakes that work just about as well as the much cheaper kind, and a SRAM Red drivetrain. I mean really, with as many beautiful deraillers as I have seen twisted, snapped and just plain broken out in the hinterlands of Iowa it does not make much sense to spend lots of cents on the shifty bits. But here we are. So after months of looking all shiny and just sitting on the shop floor with never even a test ride I got it out yesterday. It was a good ride, this is my second CXR so I figured I would like it, need a slightly longer stem. What a fine way to get over the idea of a new bike: 55 miles of gravel, snow, muck, ice, mud and beer. One of these years I am going to figure out how to just drop the little Garmin map on this page for you, but for now, here we go:

Amana geared MASI by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Notice the 10:30am departure time for a 10am ride. Also note the long stop from 1hr45mins in until 3hr24mins. That is where the beers disappeared. A fine day out, but it is hard to justify a 6 hour / 55 mile ride. Tendon report, it felt fine on the ride, had a good stretch after, and feels okay today, but it is sore. Not healthy yet, I guess…

Other BIG news for me, I am registered for the Chequamegon 100 in June. This is exactly the kind of thing I am interested in spending more time doing. It is months away, so hopefully my leg will be 100%, I will be happy if it is 95%! Depending on the fitness I am either going to race it or ride it, single or geared, loaded or unloaded. That meaning if I have a good handle on getting my gear together for future projects like riding the Colorado Trail and touring the GDMBR I might load the bike up and use this event as a great way to test how I like the loaded bike, and how much stuff may or may not fall off the bike while riding it. We shall see.

Last thing that has caught my interest lately, the Arrowhead 136. Yep, that’s right, I am planning to tackle the Arrowhead, and do an extra mile, too. Probably before the start. I have always thought to do it someday, and that day is approaching. Might go volunteer this coming year to see it up close. First attempt will be on foot. I have been reading all reports from this year and it is very appealing to me. Think I’m crazy? Just look at these pictures!

Last thing, we got our first utility bill for a full month since the woodstove went in, $50.

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Pave it with pavement

Got out for a quick ride this morning to the Coralville trails. Had to ride the mtb in for a customer to test ride later in the day, so it was a bit awkward in street shoes on clipless pedals, but I was on a mission!

Salsa SS morning trail ride by gpickle at Garmin Connect – Details.

Cold morning, well below freezing. The mission was to ride over to take pictures of hypocrisy in action.

First picture, a big sign next to a little path through the woods, informing us that this is an ecologically sensitive area.

Second picture, taken just 0.15 miles to the west shows that the ecologically sensitive area is quite localized, as here they paved over paradise to put up, you guessed it, a parking lot!  But I’ll bet it will be okay to ride a mountain bike around in there once they are done, as long as you don’t get in the way of any of the cars, of course.

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Garmin to the Rescue!

Like so many other once great bloggers I have fallen into a funk beyond funk here at my old blog.  I mean really, who gives a shit what I am up to?  Well – I do!  One of the reasons I started this back in the day was so I could look back and see what ss gear I rode at this or that race, and so on.  It was a good record of how a year of riding went, and back when I started it I really did want to show people that it was possible to ride gravel roads in Iowa on a cyclocross bike instead of a 29’er with AT LEAST 2″ wide tires.  Well, that mission was accomplished, and this blog silted up like a Army CoE reservoir.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/128696589

Until now!  Yesterday I was riding my 29’er with 2.1″ tires around for a few hours and I thought, I was wrong all that time, this is the way to roll.  No, really what I thought was that I had just got this basic and easy to use Garmin at my favorite bike shop, and it shows what my rides are like, which is what my blog used to do for me, so why not post the noteworthy rides, skis, trips to the store here.

So that is what I will do, starting with yesterday’s ride. Welcome back!

Ride notes: I had not ridden in a week because I hurt my right lower leg, probably knocking it on my top tube one of the 3 times I had crashed in the previous week. I was heading for Sugarbottom to do a lap, but they had signs saying I might get shot by a shotgun if I went on the trails. It was very windy and warm, wind out of the south. Due to no Sugar I found myself wishing I had just ridden the cross bike. Oh well, nice day out!

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