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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bicycle races and tow truck drivers

Stuff coming up this weekend: the dirty-30 something or other, followed shortly after by the Bandit Cross somesuch. Should be a good time, that is if it's not too early in the season for you to go outside. Oh snap!

Turning pages, and in the meantime, check out the below video of a night on the town with Two-Ten, a tow-truck driver in Boston - I believe that's what the kids call a 'blunt' he is smoking from near the start; sort of puts the rest of the night in perspective.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Watch Gene fix a flat

In the comfort of his shop, and without dealing with the chain. And something about the Stupor Bowl too, as if that hasn't been beaten to death...

Bike City // How To Fix A Flat + Stupor Bowl from MPLS.TV on Vimeo.

Dirty Thirty (and tour de taco)

Did Zito name this race/tour? Either way, you should show up to this, there's gonna be some sweet swag giveaways - what!

Here's a (Facebook) link to the site.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

show me your rear differential

Yeah yeah, it snowed today, let's talk about something else.

This is how a differential works, in simple terms anybody can understand - this stunt at minute 9 is purely unique, I'll be trying this at home:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Changing from The Flaming Lips to Nirvana

Nirvana played 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' for the first time live 20-years ago today. Of course it's on the Youtube, and very good quality. Enjoy:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ragnarök 2011 - one riders view

107 riders, 105 bicycles, 111-miles of gravel, 14+ climbs, good times.


I printed out the elevation map of the 111-mile course and kept it visible in my cue sheet holder. Something about knowing how many climbs are left takes away a bit of the pain, mentally anyway, the legs still struggle, especially this early in the season.


I'm told there was 7950-feet of climbing for the day, but check the Rök site for updates on that.

The course consisted of loose gravel, fast downhills with off-camber areas with thick and sketchy gravel, smooth gravel with the consistency of asphalt, mud, snow, peanut butter, and all sorts in-between. There was probably less than 5-miles of pavement, and the wind was always working against us, or so it seemed.

The scenery included isolated farms and fields, horses, cows, chickens, dogs, tractors, road graders, lots of pick-up trucks, major appliances dumped in ravines, homemade El Camino's out of a Buick Le Sabre and Chevy wagon, woods with trees yet to show any sign of spring, but very few people other than the riders.

The start was promptly at 0730 from a golf course near/in Red Wing with no available bathrooms. My alarm was set for 0430 with a 0515 pick-up, with five of us car-pooling from MPLS to the start. Considering Kristin's birthday party the night before, I did very well not only in getting up, but throughout the race. The talk before the race was the weather - was it going to rain or not. A lot of people took the gamble that it would not, though I strapped a light rain jacket on the back of my camelback. Despite the darkening skies and the sound of distant thunder, no rain hit by the time we finished.

The below image at about mile 20 is the only one I took during the race, I didn't see anybody ride this, though there were a few tire tracks from the lead riders. During the crossing, my shoes got ice-cold water in them, which was really awesome and I was nothing less than thrilled about it.


The first check point was at mile 40, which Kmac and I rode in and out of, stopping at the gas station on the way out of town for a refreshment and use of the facilities.

The two climbs at about mile 60 you ask? The first one was tough, but I rode up without complaint. The second started rather abruptly after the descent from the first peak, which made it much more difficult than the first, though I pressed on in my easiest gear without putting a foot down, though I was crawling at parts. To this second peak I hereby proudly name the '2011 Ragnarök Suzanne Somers Thighmaster Spectacular.'

The big climb that starts at about mile 70 was on my mind, but I was at the top before I knew it. I had to convince myself the climb was over only after looking in all directions and having a birds eye view of the countryside. Piece of cake.

At mile 85 I stopped at a Kwik Trip and fueled up on a banana, frapachino, and water. I meant to keep the stop to about 5-minutes, but the train crossing a few feet from the station kept a growing number of us from moving for an additional ten long minutes.

After that I soon met back up with Kmac, previously haven beat the train, now on the side of the road finishing mounting her rear wheel. She got a flat and realized the rubber had also blown, so she used a cue sheet to reinforce the tire - after another stop to put in a bit more air, all was good mechanically for the remaining of the race.

The fourth to the final climb at about mile 90 was a staggering bitch of a hill. This particular "minimum maintenance road" was mud and dirt, though mostly mud, with a practically unrideable grade; this hill was more for 4x4's and motorcross machines to whip up and down, which I can imagine can be a load of fun. I walked up the majority of this one, the saving grace was seeing a group of people at the very top - turns out it's Skogen and crew, featuring about five riders not selected for this years Rök race. Kmac and I paused for a minute, she got a spare tube from the gang, and we pushed on.

The final three climbs of the race went by smoothly, sure they were work, but mentally I knew we only had about 15-miles to go, so just push and don't think about it. We soon grouped up with five others and finished the race nearly at the same time, and then of course quickly heading over to the clubhouse to book a quick round on the back nine - probably didn't happen.

I came across the finish with several other riders, 3h22m after the winner; holy shit was I slow, or is the leader that fast? A bit of both, I guess. I've been sick since visiting China a few weeks ago, but this ride may have cured me. I had fun, saw some unique scenery, met and talked to new friends, and physically have no complaints after 10-hours in the saddle. The only thing I could have asked for is improved endurance, which of course is better now than this morning, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Nick crashed early on, scraping his legs and hands up pretty good, and decided to ride back to the start, totaling 80-miles for the day. He's okay, but gets to spend the evening picking gravel out from his knees so he can recover for his trail running race next weekend in Highland Park.

Overall I rode the right bike, had the right tires, and wore the right clothing. Wouldn't do it any differently. Well, the STI levers are starting to bug me, especially on fast gravel descents, but we'll address that later...

Update - post from the cheering section. Love the hill climb photo.

Update - and a write-up from Martin, first place SS.

Update - Kelly's write-up for Salsa, where she now works - that's me hammering in photos 2-4.

Friday, April 8, 2011

the weekend is nearly upon us

Check. Check. One. Two. Three.

Well tomorrow morning is the Ragnarök-105, which despite the name is actually a 111-mile gravel road race. In no way am I ready to do 111-miles, especially considering the elevation profile up on the site. I rode my Pacer for the first time yesterday, putting on about 28-miles. It took me a second to realize the change of wheels does affect the computer's odometer, reminder to swap the magnet over tonight to make course navigation a bit easier. The shifting was a bit reluctant, and the big chain-ring became unobtainable after a few miles in, but these are things I'll work on tonight, as long as I remember to do so, of course.

So the course starts in Red Wing, at a golf course nonetheless; I was never accused of being a fan of golf, besides of course the occasional viewing of Caddyshack, but people are people and a big thanks for letting us use your lot for a start/stop spot.

Now do we leave tonight and camp nearby or do we leave at 0515 tomorrow and drive straight to the links? That's up in the air. More news to follow, following the following of the race.

By the way, I plan on being in the top 90% of riders when I hit the finish, so place your bets wisely and accordingly.