Sunday, June 29, 2008


Conditions were unusual this year for the Mankato race. Previous years typical weather was temps in the 90's and dew points nearing 70 with heat index's over 100. Today were were welcomed with temps in the upper 70's and dry air. It had rained yesterday making the single track fast and holding plenty of traction, perfect for the small blocks. Off the start I was about 8 back or so and up the first hill everyone were making moves. At the top Brendan led with Matt Kurke, Fisher, Luke Nelson, Cam Kirkpatric, Sam, Dave Meyers, and myself in tow. Everything kind of went all over from there. Chris clipped a pedal after the frog pond loop and went down, and everyone kind of split up. Brendan began to pull a gap on Sam and Cam. Luke Nelson was chasing them, and Dave and I were chasing him. Behind us I think it was Chris, Matt, and I think maybe Justin Rienhart at this point may have joined them. I began to pull away from Dave I think on the stairway climb near the end of lap 1 and chase down Luke. On lap 2 I wasn't closing down the gap to Luke but I had a hard charging pack behind me so I stayed on the gas. Lap 3 to my amazement, was Justin Reinhart chasing me down on his cross bike. Thats right, a CROSS BIKE. He was riding the quick release drop and everything on that thing. Reigning Kato course champion Paul Hanson was giving me a hard time from the sidelines (he tore his rotor cuff thursday at Buck) for getting caught by a cross bike. By the end of lap 4 he finally bridged up to me and passed me at the bottom of the starting climb in front of his hometown crowd. Halfway up the hill he popped and I passed him back putting in a big effort to create a gap. The gap only grew the rest of the lap and I came in 5th for the day. Sam took first after Brendan lost his lead to a flat tire. Cam came in 2nd Brendan 3rd, and Luke 4th. I was only 4 min behind in this race compared to 7min at Du Lac which had less climbing, so I am happy with the results. Next up is a recovery week followed by a trip to South Dakota for some mid season base miles.
Today is my dads last day at work. He will be officially retired when he wakes up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dirt Spanker

It started to rain when we were getting ready to line up in the chute. I looked over at SKJ and saw that he had some beefer tires on. "It always rains up here" he says. At the top of the lung bleeder I comfortably followed Jesrin into the single track. I passed Jesrin right before we caught Chris and I sat there for a few min until I witnessed Chris almost lose his children. He was a little shaken up after that and let me by right away. I pulled away after that but started to lose ground fast when the rain started to fall on lap 2. My tires were filling up and I was sliding all over. Jesrin,SKJ,Dave Meyers, and Todd Mcfadden all passed me at the same time. I thought I was done at that point and I was contemplating dropping out at the end of the lap. At this point I took some air out of my tires and it made quite a bit of difference. Paul Hanson and I were in the same boat riding together for the rest of the lap at group ride pace, but then gapped me up the big climb going onto lap 3. It had stopped raining at this point now an things were tacking up nicely. On the 3rd lap I had made my way back up through everyone that passed me on lap 2 and was feeling comfortable through the rooty single track. On lap 4 Paul Hanson, Scott Kylander-Johnson, and Todd had all regained contact behind me. After the big descent I was going as fast as possible without going over my head and making mistakes through the technical sections. I was pulling a slight gap when I heard Paul's tire to pfffff and he went down on a board walk. He was my best bet on the final climb before descending to the finish. On the final climb I just went as hard as I could without going "ping" and played it safe through the grassy switchback descent holding off a hard charging Todd Mcfadden for 5th overall. Sam took the big "W" for the day a couple min ahead of Jay Richards who was loving the wet conditions. I loved the course and the conditions turned out to be just fine in the end.

How about that little Richards kid. Just because he just turned 15 doesn't mean he can go out there and spank the comp field. His lap times were 2.75 min slower than mine and if he did another consistent lap he would have placed mid field expert. Good Job Jake. Now go get that stars and stripes jersey that is deservingly yours.

My Dad retires this coming Sunday. Friday is his retirement party. 27 years in the fire service.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Take me back

These are the climbs that will be in this years Tour de France that we climbed on our trip last year.

I personally thought the Hautacam was one of the toughest. Maybe because it was the last of 3 HC climbs we did that day - The Tourmalet, Luz Ardiden, and the Hautacam, over 12,000 ft of climbing that day. The day previous was Port de Bales with the last 10km averging 10%, the Peyresourde, and the Aspin which was a 10,000 ft day. Oh and the day before that was the Marie Blanque, and the Aubisque where I caught my cold that lasted the whole trip on the descent(Always remember to bring warm cloths for descents). That day we did 7,100ft of climbing.

I didn't think the Peyresourde was that bad of a climb. It seemed more gradual than they say on paper, not all that twisty of a climb until a few final switchbacks. This is where the rest of the group stopped and had like 30 crapes at the top of the climb. I bet they regretted it when they had to climb the Aspin to get back. On the descent a local truck passed me as I was going 45mph through the twisty roads like I was standing still. A local biker also passed Sam and Brian with both hands in the back of his jersey, crazy!

I liked the Aspin. Neat climb and the descent was very twisty through the forest. I have some good video of me passing cars going down this one.

Of course there is the famous Tourmalet. The longest climb by far at around 17km with some spectacular views. The side that they will descend this year is the sketchiest downhill we did over there. The road is in bad condition and the corners are scary. There was alot of traffic when we did it and sheep all over the place but still I would not like to go screaming down those hills at that speed and find myself looking at a 100ft fall if I lose control.
I almost got the Tourmalet summit sign shown in the picture. Worker guys were replacing it and I tried to talk them into giving me the old one. I bet if Hollywood was along he would find a way to get it. It would have looked good hanging up in his shop.
I have more pictures here
I just got my memory card back from Brian this spring. I borrowed it to his daughter on the trip and she forgot to give it back. She ended up taking it to New York and Scotland before getting it back to me. All the France pictures were still on it which was good because she was our (Sam Brian and me) sag wagon the entire time so all the other pictures from everyone else didn't have us in them. I finally have pictures of us climbing now. I got video from a handle bar mounted video camera too of most of the descents which is fun to watch

21 cols
8 days
64,000 vertical ft of climbing
35 hrs in the saddle
Riding the famous battle grounds of the Tour de France - Priceless!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Low Key

I still haven't kicked this cold completely. Its not a bad cold just enough to know its there. Saturday Sam and I met with Brendan at Mammoth for some single track. 10 min in Sam flats on the railroad tracks and isn't able to fix it so he had to walk back while Brendan and I ride a lap. It was wetter than we thought it would be. I fell once because the 3 foot grass was covering the trail and I couldn't see anything before I knew it I hear my tire burp and I go flying into the weeds. Nothing happened to me or my bike. We never saw Sam so it was a solo ride for him and I had to wait at the truck for while until he made it around. Today we rode to Stillwater to cheer on all the racers. Chris Fisher took 4th in the cat 2/3 crit. 3 guys went into the hay bails on the last corner before the final time up the hill. Kristin Armstrong blew all the women away just like in all the stages previous. Her speed up the hill was consistent on every lap, it was amazing how fast she climbed that thing.
The mens field was split early too, guys getting shelled all over the place. Hollywood had a good showing of followers. He had a group of 9 guys around him with Hollywood t-shirts plus a bunch more spread over the hill.

I was successful in converting my Ardennes wheels to tubeless. Stans recommends using 2 layers of there 21mm yellow tape and there valve stem for the standard 19mm road rim. I went to the hardware store and found 24mm strapping tape which works perfect for the wider 23mm rim. I had to put 3 layers on the rear just so the tire would be tighter on the rim when trying to fill the tire the first time to seat the beads. I ran 90 psi today and they rode like a dream. Railroad tracks and bumpy roads are so much nicer, the tires don't send sharp vibrations up through the bike anymore and the tires seem to stick to the pavement a lot better instead of bouncing around. Remember you can only use the Hutchison tubeless tire. Its not like on the mtb where you can use just about any non tubless specific tire with Stans to convert. Converting to tubeless is about the same weight as using a light tube and tire. It was about identical with a 215gram tire and a thin tube. I just did the conversion yesterday so I haven't done any high speed cornering yet.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Dave Meyer: "Are you making fun of my new sorbet colored kit, because if you are I will have to crush you with my giant single speed thighs."
Me: "No no, I was just looking for my inhaler."

Somewhere on the first lap.

Eric Thompson had a great idea of dressing up like an old man with a walker and chase us up the manhandler, if that gives you an idea of how steep the climb is.Maybe next time.

Enjoying the fun "bowl" downhill to the finish.

Sunday was another suffer fest. Last year I had just got over a nasty cold and I decided to sit it out so I hadn't raced it since 2006. Ironically I got a scratchy throat a day or 2 before this time too but nothing is developing past a minor irritation. Off the start was the wettest section where we went through water covered grass 100 meters from the start. I was luckily up front with no one to spray me. Sam was behind me and got a bath. As soon as we hit the first hill I knew playing it easy would be the key for this one and I fell in behind Matt Kurke going into the first single track section. The first time up slim shady I found a good rhythm and motored up to Chris Fisher passing Sam and I think it was Kurke. I had Jeff Herrera (from Arizona) in tow. By the time we hit Manhandler we were chasing Ben Moore who we could see but Brendan was gone. Sam and Jeff went around me at this point and I was by myself. Cam Kirkpatrick (one of Iowa's top riders according to Jesse Rients) caught and passed me before the bridge loop on the second lap which put me into no mans land
for a while. I saw that Fisher and Luke Nelson were chasing me but I didn't know how much time was between us. Afton is a hard place to judge time. I marked them and I knew they were closing in slowly. Each time I saw them Nelson was pulling away from Fisher and he would be getting closer to me. My legs were losing power on the climbs and I was finding myself in a slower gear. I was playing the mental game the whole race fighting those disappointing thoughts that come each time you find yourself losing ground, knowing you can do better than how your performing on race day. The last lap I just wanted to hold Luke off at my markers so I just kept telling myself one hill at a time to hold the gap, looking 5 feet ahead of me and chanting "I can do this,I can do this". I learned from Ian that he counts in increments of 72 ? while looking just a little ways up the road during a TT. You need to occupy the mind with something otherwise it will only think of pain. I find it also helpful to just relax on the climbs and concentrate on using full circles and all the muscle groups associated with making efficient pedal strokes. Controlling your breathing is a good mind occupier too.
I stayed focused as much as I could and kept my effort just under cramping which was hard on such steep climbs. I did hold Luke off in the end and came in 6th, about 4 min behind Sam and 8 min behind Brendan. Sam couldn't keep up with Ben, Jeff, and Cam taking 5th. Both of us didn't feel very good. I know Sam was missing a couple gears and I have had alot better training days this year than the level I raced at. There is plenty more racing this year to go around and hopefully I can break out a good day in a race instead of just the training rides.
Photos from