Thursday, April 28, 2011

WNR(ained out)

Even though it looked like the rain might have been letting up, Benson and I decided that it would be poor trail stewardship to ride on the trails after two straight days of torrential downpour. Something about erosion I guess. We're going to try to make it up tonight, but so far the forecast is not looking too good. I've got all my stuff and bike at work, so I'm ready. Stay tuned and we'll make the call this afternoon. In the meantime, check out this funny video. Fu**ing roadies :) And people wonder why I don't go on the Sunday morning ride anymore.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BIkepacking Adventure

Matt and I made our first overnight bikepacking trip this weekend. I must have totally purged the bad bike mojo two weeks ago on the Sunday from Hell because neither Matt nor I suffered single mechanical problem on the trail (even with the extra 30 lbs. that each of us was hauling around). We managed to mix up the route enough that we encountered everything from smooth pavement all the way to rough unkempt technical trail, and the gear all held up pretty well. That said, we were both strategizing on ways to drop the gear weight before we even got home yesterday. The ride: We left HQ a little before noon on Sunday and headed north. We hooked up with the NCT for a bit, and then swung through Cross Village to visit with Scott. From there we continued north all the way around Wycamp Lake and eventually around to the north end of O'neal Lake. There we found a wonderful, or maybe I should say spectacular primitive campsite right on the lake. It was situated on the end of a peninsula about 1/2 a mile from the main trail. We set up camp and camped well. We had a pretty leisurely morning waiting for it to warm up a little. We probably rolled out of camp around ten or so. Our first mission of the day was water. After a few twists and turns we ended up being able to refill at the pump outside the Nebo Cabin. From there we headed over to the NCT and took that south to the end of Sturgeon Bay. We had another visit with Scott when we passed through the VIllage, and we were able to say hi to Finn as well this time. Then it was home via some dirt and the shore. Awesome, Awesome trip! I can't wait to do something like that again. The numbers: Day one was about 34 miles and about 4.5 hours. Day two was 30 miles on the nose with about 3.75 hours on the move. My bike and gear weighed about 50 pounds, and my pack was about 9 with a full bladder and other assorted gear. Matt's rig came in at 57 pounds, but his pack was only 3 or 4 I think.

I took this shot right when we pulled into the driveway yesterday when we got home.

The next four are a random assortment of pictures from around camp. Matt is supposed email me some more pix later.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Notes From Across the Pond

I just got an update from our european correspondent. From the desk of Hugh on his spring racing campaign in France:

The races are typically 60-65 kilometers (about 2 hours) with various topography

Race 1 - April 9th – local club race – about 30 riders – 86 degrees – flat fast 2 kilometer course – 32 laps. The course was paved but a little narrower than your driveway and not quite as smooth in some places. It was unusually hot and I only had 3 weeks or riding under me. I did not have legs and suffered quite a bit. It was tough to keep up but I did manage a weak sprint at the end. Mostly rode at the back for the whole race. Not my best day but it was rubber side down. The course is open to traffic while this is going on and occasionally you get blocked by cars. I am sure it is quite confusing for drivers to have a pack of riders bearing down on them.

Race 2 - April 17th – bigger regional race – about 150 riders (60-70 in cat 3 with me) – 75 degrees – moderately rolling fast 8 kilometer course – 8 laps. What a difference a week makes. I had a couple good workouts during the week and entered the race rested. The pace was fast and I sat at the back for the first 3 laps. It is still a little intimidating riding in a group so large. I decided that I probably would not be able to outsprint the rest at the ends so I attacked the group 3 or 4 times just to have fun and once to chase down a break. When tired, I would drop back to rest and then attack again. I am sure some of the others were wondering what kind of strategy was this. Little did they know..I did not have a strategy. I was just having fun mixing it up. Many of the riders will ride wheels all race long and then contest the sprint without ever taking a turn at the front. In my mind, that is not racing. In total, I was at the front for at least 1 lap. I ended up pulling the group to the sprint finish which was slightly uphill. Of course I did not have much left and got passed by quite a few but I had a great time.

Race 3 is tomorrow April 23rd. – local club race – probably about 30 riders – flat 4 km course, probably 15 laps and it is supposed to be windy. The legs feel fresh so we will see.

Say hi to Sarah and the others and have a good trip.

Talk to you soon


I got out for my first geared mountain bike ride since last August. I liked it a lot. Matt and I will be sleeping outside tomorrow night in Wilderness State Park somewhere in the vicinity of the Nebo Cabin if anyone cares to join us. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

WNR #05 - 4/20 Snow Ride

Mother Nature sure seems to have a good sense of humor to hold onto her latest April Fool's joke by dumping 6+ inches of snow on us overnight. That didn't stop a few of us from getting in some revolutions. In fact, our fine foursome included myself (CB), Charlie, Kevin and Chris H. We headed to the Lark's Lake section of the NCT as planned. If you haven't driven Lark's Lake road this spring, beware that the county has reverted this back to a dirt road from Stutsmanville Rd. north to Robinson Rd. and with the recent snow made for a muddy, mucky, sloppy, washboard of a drive. As we suited up to ride, the snow continued to fall, making it feel more like November than April. Undaunted, we lowered our tire pressure (for better traction supposedly) and headed out to see what it would bring. Kevin & I had hoped that the conditions would be similar to our first snow ride last December at Boyne Mt. This wasn't quite so, this snow was much wetter & heavier which made the trail a LOT more slippery. Luckily the L.L. section isn't too climby so we were able to make it up most of the first hills...with a little practice. You have to stay seated, gear down, keep your weight back and stay light on the pedals in an effort to maintain traction. There is a pretty good climb early on the trail and we made it a little ways before we had to dismount & hike-a-bike. After a brief stop, rest & regroup at the top, we got going again into the pines and the conditions were noticeably better, partly because we were going downhill but also because the snow was different in the pines, not quite as deep, a little slushier which seemed to give a bit more traction and control. It was very apparent when we popped out into open areas with more snow. It was definitely a challenge to keep going straight as your front tire seems to have a mind of it's own and tries to wander plus when it does, you have a tendency to lean forward to gain control which causes your front tire to veer off track even further. In ways, it is similar to riding in sand, not quite as loose but definitely more slippery; an interesting way to acquire added handling skills. Once through the pines, we all seemed to be getting the hang of it and as we crossed Middle Village Rd. we wondered how difficult the next climb would be. It isn't that steep but it is long and it doesn't take much for you to spin out in these conditions. Though the ride pace was slow, the heart pace wasn't because you really have to work to maintain traction and stay on track. Overall, the climb wasn't too bad, I made it with a slow & steady approach, Kevin spun out but it was near the top and I think AC & Chris made it most of the way too. We decided that Palmer Rd. would be far enough given the conditions and the fact that the pines section beyond that might be a B!#ch to climb back up. As always, the return trip on this trail is a lot more enjoyable and it was much easier following our outbound grooves (if you could stay in them!) I locked out my fork and found that I got much better control in the turns, though it was a lot bumpier...good thing we couldn't go too fast. Kevin had a good spill but he was behind me and I missed the show, you'll have to ask AC for the play-by-play. Our confidence was definitely up on the way down but there were corners & quick turns that required a quick clip-out to plant a foot or stiff-arm a tree for course correction; timing was surely key! All in all a pretty good ride, a total of about 5.5 miles in just under an hour, nothing we would normally tout but we kept the WNR streak alive for 2011.

The plan for next week is to head south to Boyne Mt. (we had considered Avalanche but with the recent snow we're pretty sure it will be too greasy...sorry girls.) Plan on post-ride grub at the Mesa!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


All winter long, whenever "they" said it was going to snow it didn't. Finally spring is here, and we've been able to get a few weeks of riding under our belts. "They" said it was going to snow last night, and it did. I woke up this morning to six inches of wet, heavy, mashed potato like snow. Go figure I just had my snow tires taken off last week. Anyway, Benson says he's up for a snow ride tonight, but to be honest I'm not even sure the trail will be passable on bikes. Skis? So stay close to your communicator, and Benson and I will try to put out word one way or another this afternoon.

In way more exciting bike related news, my geared 29er is only a few short steps away from being put back into the stable. Secret Steve is going to come over this afternoon (thank you very much) to oversee the final tweaking of the rebuild to make sure I don't screw anything up too badly. I'm sure I could stumble through it with a bit of headscratching and making it up as I went along, but I've been without this bike for far too long now and having a fully competent mechanic like Secret finishing up seems like the fastest path to being able to actually ride it (just maybe not tonight, but this weekend for sure).

Scott welds good.

Notice that in the future I will be able to simply bolt on one tiny little replacement piece instead of bending the frame back into shape. Success!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birkie 2012

Registration opened for the 2012 Birkie today, and I'm in. I know the bike season is just getting started, but that ski race in Wisconsin is hands down the best/most fun/well run/largest/awesome race I've ever done on dirt or snow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WNR # 4

Attendance: Myself, Sarah, Cheryl, Jess, Sherri, Karin, Benson, Secret Steve, A/C, Kevin, New Chris, and Tricky Nicky. I feel like I'm forgetting someone, but I don't know. Sorry Sarge, we forgot to take a group photo for you. Maybe next week.

Weather: A bit chilly, probably around 50 degrees with a stiff north breeze.

Tail Conditions: For the most part the trail was in excellent shape. Boyne has continued logging past the pines, and I don't recommend attempting to go much past Benson's trail.

I was feeling a little antsy after two days off the bike, so I set out on my own just after 5:00 for a warmup. My route was up Secret Steve's trail/South Peak/North Peak/Bridges/Pines/Hike a bike through logging operation:(/back to the field directly. Our WNR group headed back up the same route; but when we got to the pines we headed back down for the traditional Sarge Loop. The past couple of years I've been doing Sarge's via the Dump Run and a bit easier uphill. Last night we rocked it old school, and it hurt just as much as it ever has. But it sure is a nice downhill finish right back to the cars and beer. Sarah was thrilled with the girl ride as well. I don't know if we've ever had such a strong and consistent female showing at the WNR over the years. Anywho, I think we're going Larks Lake NCT next week for the WNR, right? If not, correct me. If so, hope to see another strong showing next week.

Also, before I add on to the new trail out at HQ I was hoping for some feedback. My intentions so far have been to make it technically challenging and twisty, but at the same time also make it mostly rideable for all skill levels. I think I'm heading in the right direction since Sarah rides it without complaint, but I'm open to suggestions as well.

So my pity post about Sunday's challenges netted way more comments than usual, like three or four I think (total). In response to what I normally carry, I emptied out my pack before I started my ride yesterday so you could see. I'm currently carrying some food, a tube wrapped in saran wrap to avoid small punctures while kicking around in my pack for months on end, a shell (the same one that saved my a** in both ski marathons this winter), a pump, inside that plastic bag: multi-tool/tire levers/chain tool/9 sp magic link/5 mm wrench with some duct tape wrapped around it, money, emergency headlamp, and emergency blanket. I also carry a blinky rear light, but it's taped to the pack so it doesn't bounce off. For a race or long adventure, I would probably also throw in another tube, some CO2, and a fix a flat tubeless inflator.

These last two pictures are my first attempts at developing my bikepacking setup. Matt and I are planning an overnighter on the High Country Pathway for Easter Sunday, so I'm definitely going to be dialing it in over the next week or so. I'm planning on a night sleeping out behind the house next week as a final test.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday Services Sucked Balls

I waited for the storm to clear out Sunday before I headed out for what I was hoping to be 3ish hour ride. About 35 minutes in, things took a turn for the worse. In chronological order the following events took place: 1) While exploring one of the many subdivisions below 119 north of Good Hart, I took a little tumble. I was trying to turn around in some loose pea gravel and managed to tip over, drawing some blood from my left leg. No biggie, and at least nobody was around to see it. 2) About 15 minutes after the mini crash I got a flat. Still I was unperturbed, I had a spare tube and a frame pump. I got the old tube out and the new tube in. I got her all pumped up, but when I went to take the pump off the core of the valve stem came with it (thus rendering the tube useless). 3) Now I was starting to get a little frustrated, but I had a plan. I patched the old tube as best I could with some duct tape. It lost air slowly enough that I was able to limp a couple of miles down the road to Jon and Debbie's house. There I borrowed the phone (no cell service) to call Sarah and ask her to bring my mountain bike down so I can finish the ride. 4) Sarah brings down the singlespeed, and I swap out the computer and bottles before setting off up the road. 5) About 40 minutes later, while climbing a steep two track heading east towards the NCT my chain broke. And not just the pin popped out broken, two of the plates had broken in half and twisted/mangled the adjoining links. It was so absurd that I actually started laughing. 6) I shoved the useless chain in my pack and lowered my seat a couple of inches. That way I could alternate legs to "scoot" me along. FYI, "scooting" on flat ground I can maintain a speed of about 7.5 mph with a heart rate in the low 130's. 7) I did not "scoot" all the way home. I did scoot about 4 miles back to Jon and Debbie's where I begged a ride home in the pickup truck. 8) I did not fire up my only working bike left (road bike), I felt as though it was definitely not meant to be. Instead I fired up the chainsaw and got rid of the trail obstructions just over the top of the hill and did some other assorted trail work to finish out my workout. I'm really hoping next Sunday goes a little better. WNR tomorrow @ Boyne. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

WNR # 3

Attendance: Myself, Sarah, Cheryl, Lisa, Karen, Benson, Secret Steve, Kevin, A/C, and New Chris.

Weather: A bit chilly, but no rain and not too much wind.

Trail Conditions: Very good for so early in the season. A little slick here and there and a few downed trees to climb over, but all in all about 90% rideable.

It was definitely our first "real" ride of the season. We had a few stops to negotiate some turns and regroup, but the pace was definitely starting to ramp up to summer speed. The cart path climb back up to the 95 acres was just as brutal as always. Our collaborative pasta dinner was an excellent way to round out the evening. Next weeks WNR is still up in the air. We're going to do some scouting this weekend and see how much of the remaining snow we lose during the forecasted warm smell coming up. I'm sure Benson will send out the invite on Monday, and I'll try and post it up here once we decide. Also, I'm planning on a longish 3 hour ride for Sunday, so give me a call if you're interested in the details. Over and out.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Long Way Home

After breaking down at the WNR (I figured out last night that that crankset is toast :(), I had some training ground to make up for. So yesterday I did the 8.5 mile ride to work and then took a hilly convoluted route home to the tune of 15 miles and 1,100 ft. of climbing.

This morning while I was riding into work again it dawned on me that one of the things I like most about being on the bike and not in the car is disconnecting just for a short time. There's no Sirius radio reminding me of how fu**ed up the world is. There are no calls on my phone or text messages to answer. I don't have to get frustrated with the car in front of me that is SO holding me up. All I have to worry about is pedaling my bike and taking in the views. As the old Poi Dog Pondering song says, "you get to know things better when they go by slow". Have a good weekend.

Pics from #2