Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last day of 2011

It wasn't the plan starting out, but I think the last day of the year ended up being one of the hardest days on the bike for the whole year. I put new parts on my Cycle Cross, and wanted to try them out.This included  Salsa Woodchipper bar which gives, I think better control in off road conditions then the standard drop bars. Combine that with new Shimano Tiagra brake and shifters which add more hand room and comfort. I wear a XXL glove and this combination gives more space and hand room in the cockpit then the smaller road version allows and the ergonomics are also improved.
Also I added bigger gears in the back end going from a 26 tooth gear to 32 teeth for aging leg engines and better hill climbing. I started the morning out with testing the trannie and failed on the hard climbs, I ran out of gear, traction and horse power all at the same time.
This is the second of a series of steep hills in the up and coming Triple D bike race. I spun out at the same time my legs gave out. My FatTire usually makes it. After some hard bounces and steep hills I hooked up on a county paved road to take me out of town, where gravel would greet me.
My 'skinnie' 42 CC tires sunk down into sticky peanut butter like gravel and lime trail and roads. Standing on the pedals at 6 mph was going to be the norm for today. I figured, might as well just dig in, and get a good work out.

So I rode on, me and the Cycle Cross machine. 4 hours later I am sweating, removing clothes, and criss crossing back and forth trying to find something to ride on without sinking into the muck. Riding on the outside grassy edge often seemed the best spot I could find to keep rolling.

As you can see some of my fans often gather along my route and cheer me on....:-)

Out of fluids, I needed to swing into the small town of Farley where I knew where there was a pop machine for the Mayberry price of 75 cents a can.
It was there I made the decision to get off the gravel and dirt and ride back to home on county pavement.
An hour later it was going good, I was making good time, and thinking I would get back before lights out. Hands starting to get cold with only light glove liners on I reached into my windbreaker pocket for my
super-duper best gloves ever I packed away earlier, and ONLY HAD ONE!!!!

Sun going down, hands cold, I needed to back track and find my lost glove. Simply a stupid mistake, zipper up your pockets you are storing equipment in. Little mistakes can bring to a halt, rides that might be a year's plan and the race you worked so hard for.

Well one hour later there was my glove, laying in the curb of the first town I rode into to that 75 cent can of pop. Getting dark and not wanting to ride county highways due to fast moving vehicles and New Year's eve revelry, I headed to a combination of seldom used gravel roads and lime trail. Sticky muddy, gravel roads and trail that I decided to get off of over two hours ago.

I phone Birgit my lady and warn her I might be looking (pleading) for a "Sag" ride, cause I am running out of gas, out of daylight, and a couple of  hours from home yet. I can't find a place in the road where the tires will roll, everything is like sticky muck.

Not expecting to see another soul out here I ride past Sundown Ski Resort, seeing all those lights and hearing people's voices made riding on the trail seem like a social event for that moment.

Almost darkness totally drops in, the moon tries to help me out, but it is frosty fog out and hazy, and the moon cast little light. But thank you anyways Man in the Moon. Now your eyes start playing tricks on you and shadows start becoming something your afraid of. You tell yourself that that is not a wolf off to the side, but just a stump as you ride by and see that it was really a large rock.  I turn on my helmet light but it is not enough to find the right spot on the road for my tires. As I am mounting my headlight, my daughter Melissa calls, chats, and tells me about her marathon training, and we shortly there after good bye each other, both knowing I have to to get going. . That picked up my spirits. I didn't want to call for a ride, I wanted to pedal for what ever it took and arrive home under my own power. I can't explain why, that is, but in some strange sense that was how I could win, by not stopping, not cutting this journey short and calling for a ride. But to keep going, finish what I started. Maybe this is primal, some strange inner sense of survival. Maybe as a human species we don't have to hunt for our food, to survive anymore, and this satisfies that drive in some other way.
And besides, I don't recall Columbus calling for a ride 3/4s across the Atlantic Ocean and bailing out when the going got tough.

Hallelujah, I arrive home, zonked, tired, thirsty, and hungry, perfect way to end the year.

Most people are saying "HAPPY  NEW YEAR" to everyone.  Having happiness won't change for you by me saying "Happy New Year" We are primarily a product of choices and how we choose to deal with the things that come at us. I am always inspired by those of you that get dealt some tough blows and choose not to surrender, but to persevere, and play the best game you can with the cards you were dealt.

Let's kick some ass for 2012 and get off the couch or picnic table like my dog Pitty the Pit Bull who gets tired from sleeping all day and have fun, play, love, be who we should be.


Happy New Year everybody ......

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One of these days

"One of these days the ground will drop out from beneath your feet"

"One of these days your heart will stop and play its final beat"

"One of these days the clocks will stop and time won't mean a thing"

Foo Fighters from "These Days"

So I just don't want to waste my moments.

My legs were tired from riding  three days in a row, that I had off work, for the Christmas weekend riding with wind and hills . One day of rest, (back to work) and then one last day vacation day to use up before the years end found me planning a days ride on my Trek XO2 Cycle Cross. I still need to do two more distance certification runs for the full and half marathon race for Triple D this Jan 15th. So this would be about a 67 mile day.

I should have started earlier, with all the stops and counter monitering I would need to do I would  be finishing in the dark, and wanted to use as much daylight as I could get. I ride back and forth for 5 runs across the measured 1000 foot runs and make note of the counter mounted on the front of my bicycle tire at each start and finish of each run.

Glad to have that part out of the way.Next I would note the counter value with my front tire directly over the half marathon finish point and ride the most straight line I could to the Marathon Half start  line and again note the counter value. Thus obtaining the half distance in reverse for the upcoming Triple D races.

But I can now ride uninterupted. This is the place I find myself often. The place where if I had something that was bothering me, I forgot about it. The place where I consider 'not wasting my moments.'

Squirrels are darting all over the place. I don't know why but it seems they are always running as fast as they can. Zig zagging across the jungle floor of Iowa wood lands, seemingly without purpose. I suppose if foxes, coyotes and 22 caliber bullets were always trying to put an end to my life, I'd be running too. 

I ride past the tree where I would see Big Eagle sitting, every previous winter that I have been riding out here. Big Eagle would always show up after the leaves have all fallen off the trees and sit in the same branch, always alone. Eagles mate for life, I tend to think Big Eagle had outlived his mate, and now was just waiting for his end. I could never get very close to Big Eagle, as I approached on bicycle I would watch his nervousness  turn into a slow lumbered fly away. This the best picture I could get of Big Eagle, off the bike, walking slowly, and using camera magnification.

But Big Eagle did not come back this year. His tree with his branch has remained empty this year after all the leaves have fallen. Maybe Big Eagle is now flying with his mate, in some other place.

The empty tree without Big Eagle

Our moments are precious, a gift, temporal, best not to be wasted.
Thanks for the visit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tale of Two Rides


My plan was to get a rock solid long ride in. I didn't feel the energy, and was slow getting started. I started out with a series of grassy hills, and spun out with the frost on the first one, and again on the second hill. That was with a Nate on the rear, I think the best hill climbing bicycle tire manufactured. 
After the first series of hills, I swung out onto the gravel roads for a route that is either going up a hill or back down. I started feeling fluish, almost to the point of turning around but I decided to stay on the level trail and put my head down and just ride and get some base miles in.
My cell phone rings, it is my 87 year old papa. He says my brother Al, my baby brother, the youngest of us 5 kids, is meeting him out on Heritage Trail at 4:00 to go hiking if I am around. Well I haven't seen Al who lives out of town in over a year, I miss him. Al and I spent several  years Power lifting and competing together in the 80s, lifting in my basement together 4 times week, and traveling all over the Midwest together competing. We loved what we did, but it came to an end. Al needed to start earning a decent living, so he went away to school, graduated and got a good job out of town.
I got another lifting partner, but it wasn't the same. A back fusion of L4 and L5 ended competing anyways.
But we all met on the trail, my papa, Al and his lady Suzi. I rode along slow for a couple of miles while they hiked and we talked and talked. My dad doesn't show his age and walked briskly along with all of us. By the time I got home it close to 7:00 p.m. and spooky dark.

There was this note on my messages on FaceBook when I got home. It was from Lance Andre, who is putting together Dubuque lands biggest snow bike/ski/run race together this Jan 15th. 62 bike, and 31 or 26 miles ski or run.

"Ride tomorrow morning?"


And we rode, and rode and rode. 8 hours, on every surface imaginable. Fields, gravel roads, county roads, and the killer ride, soft muddy, lime, trail. The frost was coming out of the ground, the wet muck would stick to our tires, and act like suction cups, standing going 6 mph is torturous.
After 6 hours, I was sucking on Lance's rear wheel, now wheel sucking doesn't help a whole lot aerodynamically when you are plowing mud, but somehow there is a 'psychological pull' that goes along with it. Lance turns around to me and says "How about you but I am exhausted" Now I was dying and trying to hide it. I am 16 years Lance's senior and he is a highly competitive bicycle racer, so I wanted to answer, "Heck this is a piece of cake" NOT!!!!! Actually I had no free oxygen available to even speak.
We also spent some time marking out 2 1000 foot spans, to begin the certification of the distances for the Triple D route. This Saturday I hope to make my frst runs with a certified counter for the half and full marathon runs.

OK, OK, I did say "Tale of Two Rides" but Wednesday was good ride worth mentioning. About 65 miles through some real sticky riding, the gravel roads and crushed lime trails were 'sticky' and made pedaling a hard push in most places. Stopped and had some "Iowa Ribs" along the way. Everything, every square inch of me and bike were coated with the 'lime spray'  

So plans are to ride the country during the day and do the family holiday gather tomorrow and Sunday.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

To be or not to be, that is the question.

What do you do about those days you just don't want to do it? I took a day off work today, for the sole purpose to ride myself into that pleasurable exhaustive endorphinated state of tranquility. Waking up early I found I had more of a desire to sit around and eat a whole package of cinnamon rolls, the kind with the thick white frosting on top, and drink a pot of coffee then to push myself for 6 hours on a muddy hilly gravel metric century. I usually don't feel this way and I knew if I opted for the rolls and coffee and not the planned ride I would not be able to stand myself at the end of the day.

So after procrastinating long enough that I had to pack lighting to finish in the dark I rolled my FatBack out the front door and down the front steps. The front tire didn’t have the bounce it should have for the 20 psi I put into the tires last night, and I found it soft and checked it with my digital gauge and confirmed it had a leak with only 10 psi remaining. I couldn’t find where the leak was even with submersing the tube in water, so I replaced with a new tube then to try to deal with a flat tire somewhere in the dark and tired.

Now that package of cinnamon rolls and pot of coffee was even sounding better the later it was getting . So back out the front door and down porch steps and onto the street, on the bike and riding out of town. Well no sense wasting any more time with this, time to get it on. Up a series of challenging hills, on grass, dirt, rocks, and gravel, the same hills the Triple D race starts out with and should be covered with snow by now, and packed down with continuous snow mobile traffic.

To funny after climbing those hills and now back on pavement to drop back down into the country to ride on trial and gravel one of my son’s friends, who I have known since my son and him were grade school buddies saw me riding by from his apartment window and snapped this picture below and had it posted on FaceBook when I got home.

Too funny guys.
I finished my planned ride, and got home just before total  darkness. The cross winds at times was so strong I had to lean the bike into it to keep from getting blown over. My only fear was a tree crashing on me.

The evening feels better now, I did my job.

A big shout out for those taking on Tuscobia this weekend a 150/75/ and 31 mile Bike/Run/Ski Race.

Check out their links these are really neat unique people and amazing endurance freakazoids. In fact when I got home tonight I missed a Facebook note from Lance and a invite to go riding today. Now he wanted to ride this morning and then car ride 5 hours to Tuscobia, to get up and ride a 150 mile race tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. Geeeesh!!!!

OK, I rambled on long enough, only one more day of work and then the weekend, hmmm, what to do? what to do?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rambling thoughts and time to go.....


I wake early this Saturday morning. Seems I always do on my day off. I think there are a whole bunch of sections in my mind that are just too excited to stay sleeping when the plan is an all-day bike ride. I am now waiting for the sun to show, it always does, but its arrival keeps getting later and later, as the Solstice approaches. I have no problem riding in the dark, but my plans are to leave after sunrise, and return after sunset.

My bike is leaning against the dining room table, waiting too. A lot of folks think that to be crazy. But I get everything ready, on the bike the night before. You can't just put your bike in the garage after your last ride, and expect to hop on it and ride for hours and more hours in these winter conditions or any conditions for that matter. Seems always something to tweak, or repair, or modify. Last night I worked on sealing up my Bar Mitt covers, cold has been sneaking into them. I made a slight adjustment on my left shoe SPD clip, my heal was sometimes clicking on the crank bolt when pedaling, and that is way to annoying. A shorter stem was installed, my bar position seemed too far out of a reach, and a shorter stem brought it in closer. I lubed my chain, and added Velcro to the bottom of my 'gas tank' pouch on top of the cross bar to keep it from leaning, my night riding light battery is charging, IPOD is charging, camera is charging, I look at Google maps and think about new explorations. I think about the cold forecast and what exactly would be the right combination of clothing.  I check tire PSI and on and on and on. Funny I usually won't take 10 minutes to stretch, but will spend hours fiddling on the bike, and a whole bunch more hours riding on the bike.

I check and see it is only 8 F out. I like that, there is clothing combinations I want to try out and see how well I can stay warm for many hours of bicycling without freezing, or overheating, often a very thin line of difference.  

I have pretty much been following a schedule of 2 or 3 gravel metric centuries on the FatTire bike a week for the last several months. Today after looking at Google Maps I think I'll ride one of my favorite routes which starts out with a series of steep rolling hills on dirt and grassy trails. Sometimes  I will fail on climbing one of these hills. My FatTire spins out, or my legs quit and I try to get my feet out of the clips and go down off the bike without crashing. Those that don't do this call this extreme, or crazy, or I'm a health nut. For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone doing all this if that is what it took to be 'healthy'. I just want to beat those hills, ride all day, enjoy the country side and push myself to there is just enough energy left to sit on the couch, drink beer and feel good about it. Makes perfect sense to me. These pictures are of my last two rides this week.  The massacred pumpkins had about a hundred rounds of shotgun shells scattered around them. You can see them laying there in the picture. Target shooting for this weekend's big deer hunt I reckon.

I can't stay here any longer, the sun is up, the bike is ready.


This weekend is the biggest weekend in Iowa hunting. Deer Season. I think some method needs to be in place to  trim down the size of the deer herd or there would be millions of them and highway travel would become too dangerous. Deer hunting plays a major role in keeping the size of the herds down.

What I saw today just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I was climbing up a gravel hill and a large buck deer and a doe came flying over the top, then into the ditch and down into a corn field. They looked like they were running for their lives. Next I  hear vehicles racing my way I hugged tight to the right side of the road.  Four, yes four pickup trucks are now racing over the top of the hill. There were two or three men in camouflaged coveralls and jackets in each truck. These were brave men, they only had semiautomatic shotguns and were not afraid of these two deer. I was glad I was hugging the right side of the road, they weren't looking where they were going. The first truck went into the field in the direction of the two deer, one stopped and two kept going, as fast as they could hold on to a gravel road, I suppose to circle back around. I kept going too, I just wanted to get away from this place, and thought to myself run deer, run, please get away.

I saw blood trails, in many places, deer running wounded. I saw dead deer with their heads removed. Head hunters only wanting a trophy rack. I saw bloody deer in the back of pickup trucks.

It was now getting dark, shadows were as long as they can get before disappearing. I was on the out and back section of today's ride, and was now returning in the opposite direction near the area where I saw the chase. Riding in between two corn fields that were picked, a silhouette of something standing less than 100 feet to my left caught my eye. I was thinking what is a cow doing out here all alone this late in the day? I stopped pedaling, put my feet down and turned my head to get a better look. It was a large buck deer. Severely wounded. I believe he was the large buck being chased by the road warriors. He was standing still and then he looked at me as I was looking at him. He began to move away, his back legs were not working, he could only hop a few inches at a time on only one of his rear legs, and that was slow going. But he was going to move away from me, find a place, lie down, and die alone.