Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter VS MC Hammer

OK so I haven't been writing much in my blog lately as I have been spending all my time running from an imminent meteor strike and watching Harry Potter re-runs. But this makes no sense anymore since I figure that I can just sit on the couch and cast protective spells over myself so that I don't have to worry about this kind of thing. And of course sitting on the couch is exactly what I want to do at all times.

I try to be a safe biker - you can never know about those pesky meteors - and usually wear a helmet. But upon seeing this video I am now totally convinced that a helmet may some day save me from brain trauma. Now if only I could figure out a helmet that would save me from the idiocy of that video.

And while at the helmet rap video I happened upon this video which even more lame than that video I put on another post about the icicle. They're so lame that MC Hammer comes to mind.

So, as you may or may not have guessed I have been dancing around the fact that I haven't been doing much riding in the last week or so - hence my heavy reliance on random and sometimes disturbing and moronic videos for humor in this post. My excuse is that I have been feeling sluggish on the bike lately and I have no intention of getting overtrained and having to take time off of my bike before Arrowhead. And, hey cut me some slack, the race is still two months away. I suppose another excuse I can whine about is that the snowmobile trails in Bayfield County are closed until Dec. 1 and I really really want to ride on them and Dec. 1st is so close and it was hunting season and I didn't want to get shot because I forgot to wear my blaze orange one day and the moon phase is all wrong.

Anyway, now I am itching to get out and do some longer rides again and hopefully tomorrow I'll get to and can write something about actual riding and not just post links to dumb videos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Confession: I have a tire changing fetish

Yesterday's bike experience for me started last night. Not because I did an epic ride that lasted all night but because I put my studded tires on last night. After the last ride which was steeped in fear of crashing because of slipperiness I decided to put studded tires on (homemade last winter which took me about 8 hours and 200 sheet metal screws. If you can afford it, buy studded tires...or at least use tires that have not been run tubeless and have a coat of Stan's No Tubes rubbery stuff in there [and hopefully they will work better than those did in the video]). In the process of changing tires I ripped off some of the glue I had put around my valve stem on the tube that was making my slow-leaking rear tire a bit slower-leaking. So now it went flat. I had been pumping it up before each ride anyway and it stayed pumped up during each ride but now it went flat in like 15 minutes...which I didn't notice until the next morning. Then this morning Jenny and I hatched a plan for me to ride in to town and meet her at the Black Cat (the coffee shop in Ashland) where I could update my blog (we have shitty dial-up at our house as of right now) then I could ride back home after we were done there. So, this involves riding to town on a gravel, not at all icy, rail-to-trail and then riding the paved roads through town. So I didn't need studded tires and since riding on pavement is hard on studded tires I decided to switch them back to regular rubber. Now is when I saw the flat and went to go get a new tube to put in (if anyone knows of how to fix a leaky valve let me know. I'd patch it if I could. My record for number of patches on one tube is 13). Of course I am so disorganized I couldn't find it for about 30 minutes (I have a spare in my repair kit that I carry with me but wanted to save that one for out on the ride in case I needed it...that's kinda the whole point of the spare). I put it in and took off for town. As I mentioned in the last post deer hunting started Saturday morning. I passed one hunter along the trail who flashed me a “peace” sign as I rode by. It was definitely the first time I had that particular sign given to me by someone holding a firearm.

The ride in to town was uneventful (barring the peace-loving hunter) - until I got into town and was crossing a road and a car was coming and I went to slow down and grabbed my brakes and nothing happened. Luckily this was on a flat trail and I was on my single speed and so I wasn't going fast. I dragged my foot and turned off onto the grass where I discovered that I had not hooked my brakes up when I had the wheels off to change the tires and hadn't had reason to brake the whole way in to town on the rail-to-trail. This is the mark of a boring trail. I also could have used my drag chute to slow me down:

Yes, that is actually me. Good training for Arrowhead...kinda like this. Actually my nephews and I were messing around.

I spent some time at the Black Cat updating the blog and also listening to a small group (including Jenny) sing and play guitars, dulcimers, and fiddles. Then I headed for home. I took the long way this time as it had taken me less than an hour to get in to town and I wanted to get a workout today. It was misting on the way home which I didn't think much of until the road started icing up and it got a little slippery and I wished I had my studded tires on. And so the circle remains unbroken.

And since I am low on stuff to write about I will turn to the all knowing, powerful, and time wasting (especially if you have dial up) internet and ask it to entertain you. And since I have a 29er and think it's the shiznit I'll give you a link to that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that 29ers were preferred by Hitler (which, of course, is a huge selling point).

Since I didn't spend all that much time riding today, I spent the time that I was on the bike at a relatively high intensity. When I trained for Arrowhead when I did it in '09 I just got off and walked my bike up almost every hill...I was training myself for ENDURANCE and not any kind of INTENSITY after all (at least this was my rationale at the time). Last winter I wasn't training for Arrowhead but went out and did quite a bit of riding anyway. I didn't worry about throwing some intensity into my training because I was out not just to train but because I just wanted to ride. And so I think that I was in better shape last year (a non-Arrowhead year) than the year before (when I did Arrowhead). This was another thing that drove me nuts when I went to spectate at the race last year (and to take pictures PICTURES). One thing – the main thing – was that the trail was much better for riding than '09, it just looked like so much fun to actually be able to ride at a decent speed (“decent being relative: the record for the Arrowhead course is 15:45 for an average speed of less that 10 mph. That may seem slow...and I suppose it would be for an Iron Dog); the other thing was that I was in pretty decent shape and might have actually been kinda competitive (as in maybe being able to pull off a top 15 finish)...not just watching the snowbikes ride away from me with no problem. Anyway, my riding/training philosophy has changed and I'll find out – come race morning – if it worked or not. So - because of the intense ride - I'm tired, so tired in fact that I'm looking into getting one of these things to take some of the strain off of me for my next ride:

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Friday I went for a what probably would have been a 3 hour ride but it stretched out to over four hours.

It snowed about a week ago (remember how I wrote about freezing my (dumb)ass off? In the rain/snow (snain for short) and since then has been good temperature-wise for snowball making - at least during the days. As for biking on roads that aren't plowed this means that the snow got packed hard and icy by trucks driving on it. Cold ice (below zero) isn't really all that slippery (I barely even used the studded tires that I made with sheet metal screws in the winter in Fairbanks where it was rare that temps ever got above zero). I started out at 8:15 and things were still frozen pretty solid at the point. It warmed up to just about freezing out there – and things got slippery. I crashed several times. And they weren't those nice crashes (oxymoron) in which you are down – and unhurt – before you even know what is happening; they were those slow motion crashes where your front wheel starts to slip, you realize that you can't correct and then you have another second (this seems like forever when a crash is imminent) to say “Oh shit! Methinks this bodes ill!” Well, I didn't really get hurt when I fell. Ice crashes are usually gentle crashes (oxymoron) since it's just the initial impact and then a slide on the ice. What I don't like about them is that you never know when you're going to do it (or maybe to be more accurate should say that you don't know until its too late) or if the surface you fall on is going to be nice flat ice. You might fall on a rock or branch or even a ninja star. And if you fall you're stationary and are a perfect target for falling meteors.

So anyway, since fear of crashing and getting hit by meteorites is all consuming for me this reduced the fun quotient of a ride to near zero and I decided to head for home early. Problem was that it didn't get warm (if “32 degrees” = “warm”) until I had been riding a couple of hours away from home. This made the ride back interesting.

On the way back home I bumped into some guys that were getting ready for the gun deer hunting season (the opener was yesterday but I bumped into them friday so today is the day after tomorrow) and they (there were maybe 8 of them) gave me the collective you're-on-a-bike-in-the-snow-and-so-you-must-be-a-harmless-nutcase look. Drawn in by this sense of camaraderie I stopped to chat for a minute or so. I was called “irrational” in a joking kinda way – and I heartily agreed. Later the same guy who had called me irrational gave me an “A” for Effort. It was generally a positive interaction...though some highly strung, overly defensive individuals (like the limo driver in Me, Myself, and Irene) may have found it highly abrasive. I hear a lot of bad stuff about snowmobilers (not snowmobilers, these guys had a single ATV for the eight of them which told me that they weren't homophobes and wouldn't mind sitting close to each other), and much of it is founded: bar hopping, perpetually drunk snowmobilers are dumb. Snowmobilers that have nothing better to do than pull out the course markers on a race like Arrowhead so that poor guy on a bike who has been out there almost 40 hours and is lost in the dark at -25 below are dumb – and as I think about it now are probably under the influence of alcohol. But barring the course markers being taken (and I was under the influence of fatigue, sleep deprivation [not necessarily the same as “fatigue”], dehydration, low blood-sugar and – most importantly - an acute case of I'm-near-finish-and-I-want-to-get-this-over-with. So maybe it's worse in memory than it really was) I haven't had a really negative encounter with snowmobilers unless you count the time when I was training for the Susitna 100 and a guy came into the shop I was working for at the time and was bloring on about how he was doing the toughest race ever and that he felt sorry for the poor saps that did Iditabike (which was the old name for the Susitna 100) because he claims to have once passed one on his snowmobile that was weeping by the side of the trail. The race he was doing was called “Iron Dog” and went 1900-some miles. A tough thing to be sure but calling it the toughest race on earth strikes me a little hollow: almost anything that relies on an internal combustion engine for all forward progress does though. But then again maybe this is the Alaskan equivalent of NASCAR (with much better scenery and without all the drunk fans which they don't need because perhaps the racers themselves are drunk. Just kidding). Here's a video of Iron Dog and here's one on the Iditarod Trail Invitiational.

But now I'm taking cheap shots at snowmobilers and there are quite a few, the majority, who are good people. That's what I started to say in the last paragraph before I fell into the typical routine of making fun of the lazy beer drinkin', snowmobilers.

This kinda reminds me of a friend of mine, when asked what kind of music he liked, said, “I like almost all types of music. But you should remember that just because I like some rap songs doesn't mean that I don't think 90% of rap – or any type of music – is crap.”

Oh and by the way, sorry about the lack of pictures in this post. I took my camera but didn't get many pictures. While crashing sometimes seems to take forever, you don't actually have time to compose a picture on the way down.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Falling through and icicles that aren't

Well in the interest of having something worthwhile to say in this blog while I was out riding today I stopped at a pond near the road I was riding on. Neat, sometimes unexpected things happen around water especially when said water is ice covered and you happen to fall in (more on this later). And Arrowhead is still more than two months away and anyway stopping to smell the roses is important, right? Anyway, I stopped at this pond that was frozen over (see picture below) and thought briefly of trying to walk on the ice. Since I knew that ice was very thin and couldn't possibly hold my weight I thought it would be entertaining to the blog readers (of which there are at least seven but probably not many more – my mom, Jenny's mom, Jenny, and then four followers who have nothing better to do than read my babble) to do something idiotic to tell you about. And then it occurred to me that I could tell you about the time I put one of my legs into a creek while riding at -10 F in Alaska and thus spare myself getting all wet and cold today.

Now up near Fairbanks it gets pretty cold and small creeks freeze all the way to the bottom. Water still flows though sometimes and has to flow up and over the creek bed – which in now full of ice. Water gathers, flows over, the wet ice freezes, water backs up, flows over again, etc. Each time it flows over the ice wets where it flows over and then that freezes so that dam gets bigger and deeper each time it flows over. It's kinda like a big icicle on it's side blocking up a stream but it's not circular (or even conical) like an icicle, its more elliptical but not exactly because it has to conform to the lay of the creek I think of it now it bears little resemblance to an icicle. Anyway we were riding along and came to where a creek flowed across the trail. This creek had the ice dam/horizontal icicle-that's-not thing going on and so the other bikers in front of me were slipping and sliding as they walked across the ice – and there was some nice smooth snow right next to the ice so I went bopping over thinking I was so smart and fell in up to my hip in water backed up behind the ice dam (it was cold enough that there was a layer of snow on top of the water). Huh, turns out this is pretty common in AK. We don't have much of that in Wisconsin.

So I don't have to try and be just comes naturally.

In a weird twist I put white bar tape on my handlebar grips last night. The reasoning behind white bar tape eludes me. You put it on and gee doesn't it look nice...until you touch it. How often does one take the time to wash one's hands during a bike ride? It is not uncommon for me to have chain grease, or melted chocolate from moose-shit looking food (yes, I am going to keep bringing that one up. Especially when I am low on stuff to write about such as I am now) on my hands when I ride my bike. Not to mention that a good way to hold the bike off the ground, so you can spin the pedals to fix a mishifting derailleur or what have you, is to turn it upside down so the saddle and handlebars are touching the ground with the wheels in the air. I can't imagine white bar tape actually staying white...which is exactly why I have it on my bike. See, some persnickety biker had their bike in the bike shop where I work (actually past tense – worked – because most people, inexplicably, hang up their bikes in the winter) brought their bike in to get new bar tape because the white that they had on there was turning to shades of gray - as anyone with the intelligence of Mishka the talking dog could predict. We were going to throw it out but I snagged it figuring I could use it for something. Now I have bar tape on my bike that's supposed-to-be-white-but-isn't on my grips (to insulate them better than the rubber would by itself). Speaking of white bar tape makes me think of the picture below which would make perfect sense if it weren't for the white bar tape.

This is an example of the wood-stacking equivalent of white bar tape. I happened on this on my ride today.

If I was wearing a pair of these sunglasses I would look cool...right? And at $300 they are a steal too.

Not quite as fun as snowmobile trails but – for this time of year – I'll take it.

Off on a narrow side road.

The pond I almost Polar Beared (think plunge) for your entertainment.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I hope dearly that history doesn't repeat

I was pushing my bike again and this time I was having flashbacks to every single snow-bike race I have ever been in.

I've been in four snow-bike races over the years. First was the Susitna 100 in Feb. of '04. I had just moved to a cabin near Fairbanks, AK in the summer of '03 and had never even ridden on the snow before (I had ridden in it before – as in It snowed on the road and I rode my bike in it). Well winter comes early in Fairbanks and stays late and the idea of not riding a bike for 6 months was unappealing. So a dedicated group of snow-bikers (Rocky Reifenstuhl was one...yes, that is a blatant name-drop) helped me get going riding. I heard about the Susitna 100 (formerly Iditabike/Iditasport) and thought it would be fun to try. Winter riding in Fairbanks was great. Consistently cold temps made snow conditions consistently good and trails were smooth and I didn't get trampled by a moose. So I spent a lot of time riding and preparing gear for the race. Race day dawned to a new layer of wet snow that was still falling and then turned to rain as the day warmed. This was NOT Fairbanks weather where anything above zero was crazy warm and where it wasn't uncommon to ride in -30 temps. The trail got soft and punchy and I ended up walking 20 or 30 miles of the 100.

After an involuntary stint off a bike (and onto a trike) for almost three years the next snow-bike race I did was in Jan '09. Triple D (so named because it goes from Dubuque, IA to Dyersville and back to Dubuque – not some fascination with Dolly Parton that the race director has [I may be impolite to even mention this – but admit it, you were thinking of it too]). The course had recently had almost a foot of fresh snow on top of a sheet of glare ice. It was much too soft and fluffy for even snow-bikes to ride on top of the snow. And if you used studs the snow floated the tires just enough so studs didn't bite. Everyone quit the race after varying distances. I quit after 40 miles – about 30 of those miles were spent on foot.

Arrowhead in Feb of '09. Four inches of snow the night before the start saw me pushing about 40 of the 135 miles. The snow was the main culprit but my gear choice was overoptimistic. By the end of the race I was tired and couldn't turn my gear and so had to walk more than I would have otherwise.

Triple D '10. The course was on a snowmobile trail and everything was going well until a trail groomer came through and chewed up and softened the nice packed snow and made almost everyone walk at least part of the race. Even though distance wise the walking part wasn't huge it still went something like this: ride for 10 feet. Walk for ten feet. Huh, the trail looks firmer here, I may be able to ride – try riding – nope not firm enough yet. It was a near constant swinging your leg over or off your bike. Frustrating. I felt sorry for myself but felt even sorrier for the poor guys that were attempting it on a tandem.

So here I am pushing my bike along an ATV trail, having flashbacks to past snowbike races (I must admit that this wasn't wholly unpleasant) and trying to tell myself that if Arrowhead is a pusher this year then it'll be good to have a bit of hike-a-bike training.

I didn't try to look skeptical in this picture, it just came out that way. Obviously I wasn't fooling myself into thinking that pushing was fun. I have an intense hatred of pushing a bike. Although I have walked quite a bit over the years (the granddaddy of embarrassment was the time I got a flat, realized I had forgotten my pump and had to walk about four miles along a major highway back to my house – I felt kinda like an inept rookie biker) my knee-jerk reaction is usually something like “what kind of idiot goes out riding without a pump?” Then I think a second and can answer my own question: ”me.”

Even though I hate to push I do it. So I was pushing and trying to fool myself into thinking that it was good training (and it probably was, but good training still doesn't trump fun training in my book). Since I was pushing and not riding I took my helmet off – since I was overheating - and strapped it to my bike frame. As I was pushing I had many snow-laden obstacles to pass over, around, and under as the wet snow we've had bent a bunch of trees over the trail. So when I finished pushing and was standing where the trail crosses the road I was going to turn and actually ride on I had to knock the snow out of my helmet...and it just so happened that two logging trucks went by as I was knocking the snow out and then putting the helmet back on. I bet I looked almost as cool as when I chomped into my snack of moose shit.

In an ironic twist a guy actually thought I was a bear today (this is ironic because of what I put in my last post). As I ride I try not to make much noise (I think that one of the nicest things about muscle powered sports is that they are so quiet compared to something like snowmobiling. Good luck sneaking up on a deer that way) and so I was cruising quietly along and saw a guy walking away from me on the road a ways in front of me. I kept going quietly...I had been riding on the left side of the road and – because this guy was there too – wanted to switch over to the right side so I could pass. Now this may seem a simple maneuver but it had snowed quite a bit, I was on a road that hadn't been plowed and because there is little traffic on the road there is only a two track running down it – and so to switch from one side of the road to the other meant crossing almost a foot of wet, half-frozen, packed snow. I tried it and crashed doing it. A little embarrassed I looked to see if the guy saw that – he hadn't. Relieved at narrowly escaping being mortified, I started pedaling again up behind him. Now, I try to be nice and at least let people know I'm coming up behind. If I were the one on foot and thought I was the only person near and all of a sudden a biker whizzes past me I may just have an, aneurysm, stroke, myocardial infarction or what have you. And plus guys out walking around in a national forest near deer hunting season are often armed. So just before I said something to him he turned around and saw me. I caught up to him and he gave me the usual you're-on-a-bike-in-the-snow-and-so-you-must-be-a-harmless-nutcase look and we chatted for a bit and he told me for a split second he thought I was a bear. Victory! I am a sadist and love scaring the jeepers out of others.

Beleive it or not the trail goes straight ahead. I had to go off the trail and do some bushwhacking - which isn't too much fun when you have a bike with you.

What the scenery looked like on most of the ride.

Same intersection, different seasons

Seriously? 50 mph at night? This a twisty trail without good sightlines and it's pretty narrow. Good thing for me that snowmobiles are so friggin' loud that I can hear them coming a long ways off and get the hell out of the way. I've never had a really close call with a snowmobile and hope to keep it that way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fear of death can do wonders for your RPMs

I had a bear on my ass and was frantically spinning the one gear of my single speed bike.

First a little background info on the bear-ride. 1) A couple of nights ago I went for the first night ride (the aforementioned bear ride) I've done this season. I got out all my gear for night riding and then realized that my headlamp wouldn't fit on the helmet that I use for riding in the summer. Since it was unseasonably warm I went with the summer helmet and a handlebar mounted light that runs off a battery pack. The handlebar light is vintage and from the pre-LED era and – while plenty bright – has a burn time of only about 2 hours even though the battery pack takes eight hours to charge and weighs about a pound. I thought it was pretty cool when I bought it back in '03. 2) I was wearing a Camelbak that I made myself (specially insulated for winter riding) and that makes just a hair of noise when you rock back and forth as you pedal – not enough that you can even hear it when you're facing straight ahead but is barely perceptible when you turn your head.

So anyway I was out on this night ride riding along out on a Forest Road in the Chequamegon National Forest. I turned my head to blow a snot rocket (this is an art which I have almost perfected since my nose runs virtually constantly from September to April and I have much opportunity to practice my Over-The-Shoulder-Snot-Rocket-While-Riding-A-Bike technique) and heard a rhythmic scritch/scratch sound – that could have been some hunger crazed bear putting on a winter fat layer by eating every crazed biker that came by - coming from very near me. I like to think of myself as a rather cool headed person – one that wouldn't run when a bear is after them...and one that would realize that the sound of the bear chasing them was really being made by a piece of fabric rubbing against another piece of fabric. But I started whirring the pedals in such a way that would have put the Roadrunner to shame. In my defense I was already moving away from the “bear” and I've never heard anything about what to do if you're already moving away from the bear and you need to stop and turn the bike around – because you have a handlebar-mounted light - in order to see said bear. And I only pedaled egg-beater style for a second or two when I realized that a bear could most certainly run me down if it wanted to since – even at 500 rpm – I was doing maybe 15 mph. I slowed my whirring and – once my adrenal glands had returned to normal – had an uneventful rest of my ride.

Today was the first snow of the year and naturally I was psyched to get out and ride. I snarfed down some leftover lasagna and was out riding at the crack of 8:45. Into the teeth of the sleet (it was a wet snow and it had some distinct rain-like properties but I'll call it “snow” because I'm looking forward to real snow and tend to be positive – sometimes to my chagrin) I went and congratulated myself on being tough enough get out of a nice warm bed and onto my bike in conditions such as these. It occurs to me fairly regularly – usually when I'm out in the middle of a ride that is miserable - how fine a line it is between tough and stupid. When I started the ride I remember seeing people in cars and feeling a bit A of pity for the poor saps trapped in the cars and strapped to schedules. By the end of the ride the only pity I was feeling was directed toward myself and my poor, poor hands which were just this side of numb and hurt like hell.

Remember what I said in a previous post? “It's kind of like fun...only different.” And by that measure it was a good ride.

So I got done with the ride this morning and laid in bed until I felt vaguely human again, ate some pancakes then poked around a bit. It was really snowing now (I can almost feel the English majors cringing at this improper use of tenses). With actual flakes not quasi-frozen pellets. “Just for fun,” I thought, “I'll get my bike ready for riding in the snow so I can ride later when I want to.” So I did and then became excited about riding in the snow and decided to go out again to ride some more.
I must say that it took a rather forgetful mind to come up with this idea - I guess that this forgetfulness and willingness to suffer shouldn't surprise me given the track record of my past snow-bike races. '04 Susitna 100: melting trails forced me to push many of the 100 miles. DDD '09: almost a foot of snow the night before made this not a bike race but a push-your-bike-until-you-quit “race,” Arrowhead '09: 4” of snow the night before the start softened up the course enough so that it took me almost 40 hours to finish, DDD '10: a snowmobile trail groomer came by and chewed up the trail and made it soft for almost the whole 63 mile race. We'll see what happens in the '11 Arrowhead. I've got my fingers crossed, am saying Hail Mary's, praying to Mecca daily, and have been saving all my cut toenails so I can mix them with the tears of virgins and then make a concoction with which to gargle on race morning in a plea to Zeus to let the trail be good - so I should have my bases covered. So now here I was fresh off a ride that was in just about the worst biking conditions conceivable and I was going to do it some more. This is how you can tell the truly hardcore lunatics from your run of the mill lunatics. I guess I thought that with a few tweaks to my clothing I could have a relatively warm ride. Several words and phrases come to mind. One is “hope springs eternal.” Another is “idiot.” Well to get my bike ready for winter riding all I had to do was take off the bar ends so I could get poagies on (poagies are kind of like mittens that stay attached to the handlebars even when your hands are pulled out) and take off my clipless pedals and put on regular flat pedals (so I can wear warm boots). With these modifications I stayed warm (although I didn't stay dry: the falling snow was still wet) and made it back and was happy that I had been out riding.

The view of what the conditions were like when I was out riding. Woe is me because my camera had a "lens error" for most of the rest of the ride and I hardly got any pictures

One of the few times my camera was not throwing fits I managed to get this picture. I'm not a bike evangelist and I don't think that the only way to have a good time is on a bike, but however you choose to get outside, get outside and look around.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


So we (Jenny, her parents and I and her son, Glinden) were sitting on the couch when out of the blue Glinden says with great earnestness, “if my eyeballs were arms I would have four arms.”

I opened with that because I really don't have much to write about bike-wise. This isn't the case because I haven't been riding – I rode for 3:30 last Thursday then again Monday for the better part of four hours. By the way, I was going to a wedding in the days in between, so I'm not a total bike slacker. And anyway, Arrowhead is still the better part of three months away and I don't feel like it's going to benefit me much to get all psycho about adhering to a strict training schedule at this point anyway.

I have been out riding a fair amount lately and I was tempted to purposely do something crazy just so I could entertain you with it but 1) that seems a little desperate and 2) if I ride enough odds are that at some point I'll have an overwhelming desire to stop and eat moose shit.

The riding has been going OK though. John (Jenny's dad [Jenny is my girlfriend]) and I were out riding around quite a bit and covered some new territory and just generally were out exploring on our bikes - which is just about the most fun thing you can do on a bike. At one point we even did some off-trail riding through a pine plantation. Only studs do this. And it reminds me of a video that I saw once on Jill Homer's blog. See the blog here or just the video here. This video makes me want snow bike almost more than I can stand...and it reminds me of the time last winter when my nephews and I were riding at the golf course. It had been thawing during the day and then freezing at night and there was still snow left on the ground so there would be a frozen crust on top. Because of this crust you could ride almost anywhere (kinda like the video) and so we were doing just that - and having a blast doing it. We hadn't been riding too long when a guy came out of the golf course clubhouse and told us to get off because we were, "tearing up the sod." We got off but it makes me mad still when I think about it. Here we were riding on top of 6" of snow above ground that was frozen still and we were on BICYCLES for crying out loud. And the golf course is used all the time my cross country skiers and snowshoers. He may as well have said, "Get off the golf course because I am dumb and have some weird unsubstantiated bias against bikers and just want to wield the power vested in me by the Lancaster Municipal Golf Course." Which, come to think of it probably would have been hard for him to say in one breath because his uh...extra flesh belied that he probably doesn't take time to do such silly things as partake in healthful aerobic exercise.

Oh, and since my idea of self worth relies wholly on the number of pageviews this blog gets - and want desperately to entertain you, dear reader, I'll tell you a story: I was riding along a road once and a dog came out and started chasing us (I was with my brother). Well it was off the side of the road and running and was looking at us bikers and not where it was going and...well it reminds of this video.

This is a picture taken by me the morning after a freeze-thaw cycle and I could ride virtually anywhere.

My nephews out riding on the golf course

this really has nothing to do with riding but I just thought the color of these pants was funny. Kinda like the urine of an extremely dehydrated person who has had nothing to eat other than asparagus for the last week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The joys of eating scat

I was having flashbacks to Triple D '10.

Triple D is a bike race held near Dubuque, Iowa in January. Last year it was held on the Heritage Trail which is a rails-to-trails trail that goes something like 30 miles out the trail, turns around in the town of Dyersville and then heads back to Dubuque (hence the name Triple D: Dubuque-Dyersville-Dubuque). The race last year was routed almost entirely on the Heritage Trail as it had snowed soon before the event and the race director didn't want to repeat the year previous - where the snow melted so there was a layer of ice on top of which it snowed 8” and made the race into a push-your-bike-until-you-quit race - and there is more snowmobile traffic on the Heritage Trail than on other nearby trails so it would be nice and packed down. Anyway,things were going great for a while, trail was hard and packed well...until a trail groomer came by about an hour into the race and chewed up the trail and made it soft and – for me – all but unrideable. I then spent the next 9 hours riding/pushing through the slop.

Friday I did a ride mostly on ATV trails and forest roads (I live right near the Chequamegon National Forest) and then ended up a railroad grade which have just been graded by a bulldozer and was all soft and no fun to ride. Hence the Triple D flashbacks.

Today (Halloween Sunday) I rode some with Glinden (the boy of my girlfriend, Jenny) on the tag along then took off and rode by myself for another few hours, all on forest roads. It was a fun ride. At one point a big SUV passed me on the road and since the road was pretty rough I was able to ride fast enough (or maybe more precisely it was because they were going really slow) to keep it in sight for a ways then it was gone. I didn't think much of it...until a few minutes later I caught up with it because it was stuck in a mud puddle. I must admit that I felt a little smug as I rolled up, dismounted, walked across the muddy part and then kept riding. I did even offer to help and was sincerely trying to be nice but later I realized that it was probably a slap in the face for them to be offered help from a guy in tights. It's not like I could've even done anything...I usually carry a powerful winch with me one every ride but had forgotten it this time.

I rode for a little more and then stopped for a snack break. Before I had left I had grabbed a couple of granola bars and a bag of peanuts mixed with chocolate chips that had been in my bike bag since the summer. The chocolate chips had – of course – melted in the summer heat and the chocolate re-solidified and now it reminded me of a little junk toy that I saw for Christmas once that was a moose that when you pressed on its hinder it squatted and out came a chocolate covered raisin. Now imagine a whole pile of those that had melted together and that would be kinda how those peanuts looked.

Now I take a fair amount of pride in going against the grain, doing things that make sense even if they aren't commonly accepted by society. Examples: eating a bag of string cheese that had been at room temp for the better part of a day and had gone soft, showing up to a church service a little sweaty because I had biked there, riding my bike in the snow, thinking seriously about consuming a bag of peanuts that looks disturbingly like the slightly composted emissions of a sheep who has gotten into a batch of moldy string cheese (OK so maybe this is not an example of something that makes sense), etc. So my thinking was thus: 1) I'm hungry 2) I have food in front of me 3) I'm hungry. Conclusion: I don't care if it looks like shit and has been sitting in my bike bag for months, I'm going to eat it...but first I will pause to take a picture and document the totally unappealing look of this food and then be able to brag – and provide documentation - about my wholesomeness later when St. Peter asks me if I made a habit of wasting food. So I took a picture and then chomped into it. It tasted terrible and I immeditely spit it out and then threw uneaten part of it away in the grass. I spent the better part of a minute trying to spit the taste out and then, since that didn't get the taste out of my mouth, washed it out with water and then dove right into a nice pre-packaged granola bar.

Now, don't think that I'm now pro pre-packaging. It was just ironic that I had just been feeling smug and had my shit-eating grin wiped off my face by actually eating something that looked like shit. It happens.

When I look at this picture I am still amazed by just how stupid I am.

This gives you a pretty good idea of what the roads are like that I'm spending time riding on.

Glinden at our snack break