Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Tuesday Night Cross is the local circuit for cross racing. That's riding a thick tire road bike on grass or fields. The origin is an interesting read, you can see it here, Cyclo-cross . I'll recap the basics for the less academic reader.

European road racers in the early 1900s would race each other to the next town over from them and that they were allowed to cut through farmer's fields, over fences or take any other shortcuts in order to make it to the next town first. This was sometimes called steeple chase as the only visible landmark in the next town was often the steeple.

Today it's any local park and a compact track that is technical and provides rider challenges like barriers that must be jumped ether on foot (most common) or on a bike (most difficult). If you can Bunny Hop them you gain a lot of time and maybe crowd cheers, blow it and you eat dirt, possibly get hurt, get pity from the crowd and lose a great deal of time while others hurtle you along with the barrier.

These pictures should be sharper but the long distance and the low sun had it's way with the all-weather camera I use. Its good when conditions are wet, cold, or muddy but it's no substitute for large glass and long focal length cameras.

 The start had 53 riders I think. I had butterflies for the large launch. Crashes are just too common.
 Blake and I get off the line about 1/2 back. We role out fast and get pinched out at the first corner. To avoid crossing wheels with Blake at the first, 180 degree, corner, I lean into the yellow tape, make room and recover. Things stretch out on the sprint that follows.
 I have a strong race and overtake riders every 30 seconds or so.
 I know how to empty the tank on a 30 minute race. Race and attack, Pass everyone you can. They always try and hold on but you open the throttle more and blow by with authority. They shut it down and you never see them again.
 Maybe lap 5 of 9. I'm balanced, can't go faster without blowing up before the end. I'm still taking riders after the corners. My bike handling is stronger then most from mtb races so I gain ground on technical skill and power on the flats.
 Lean the bike, make the tire work for you. I did not see a lot of this.
 Blake is center right in Blue and Orange bike.
 Lap 8 of 9. I'm riding harder then I should so I don't lose ground.
 This is about half of the track. I think it's about .8 miles long with a lot off 180 degree turns.

 Just after I overtake 3 after a corner.
 Track racing strategy,  Hug the tap and make the laps as short as you can. Every few inches adds feet.

 Digging deep. You can hold a lot of riders by going deeper then they are willing too. Sure you're gassed but it's easy to hold ground then to take it. So dig and you'll catch those resting , empty the tank and blow by them hard and they will wilt in your shadow. Recover for 30 seconds and attack the next rider.

 Blake is stalking a rider to overtake.
 Last lap. Full gas. #49 is just behind me. We sprint it out on the last 500 feet. #49 holds me off by a wheel length. I was 100% attack and I could not overtake. The crowd loved it. We crossed the line doing 25.
 Empty Tanks. I have to lean on the bike so I don't fall down.
Recovery. It's 95 degrees out and I just did 30 minutes of hard sprints and corners.
It takes 10 minute before I can see straight.

I didn't hang out for a finishing place but I did good. Maybe 15th. We'll see. I passed a lot of people so I feel good about that and I didn't spare the gas. I had a good race and earned my place, whatever it is.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bandit Cross

band of marauders
If 75 bike riders show up in the middle of a field with little order and every bit of intention to see who is fastest around a make do track, it's a Bandit Cross. From what I gather, no one is in charge and no one cares. I jumped on the tails of a long line of riders. Introduced myself as "Mind if I race off the back!" and the bloke replied, "We always start an hour late. The race is about to start" To which I said,"Great!"

I had to stop home after work the day of the race so I rode to MPLS from my home about 24 miles away. I only had an hour to close that distance so I was just going to have to live with being late. So when I arrive way behind the planned start I was happy the event didn't kick off on time but when is a Marauder ever on time? I should have known.

I call Blake and tell him I'm going to go and see what a Bandit is about. I've read about them after the fact and they seem fun. Show up and ride, race if you have the energy or just enjoy a beer and have a fun ride with maniacs. 

 The band of marauders
 This is about 3 minutes before the race launches. Note the 3+ ladies in the pic. It's not all dudes.
Anyone can show and go. No numbers, no classes, no rules but be fast and don't crash.
 The starting line. I race but give a huge lead to take this picture. I take off after everyone and jam on the big gears to get to mid pack after two laps.
 The man with the beer is the most Bandit but only because he's playing in traffic and the race is on.
 Everyone is lucky to get off the line without major crashes. That's a testament to the quality of riders. Bandits maybe, serious riders, always.
 Keeping it real, Clockwork , shows up to race.
 I jump from racing to photo journalist. If you don't have pics, it didn't happen, right!
 Riding like he stole it. These guys are pushing the big gears to win nothing but respect. Well, Respect Bro's.
 Hobo Camp, san hobos but not the camping gear.
 Out of the woods and across the finishing line, not so you'd know. The line is out there, it's not marked. If you're racing, you know where it is. No need to make it obvious. Everyone knows where it is. Seriously.
 The nice lady taking the photos is at the line. See, we all know where it is.
 Down and away corners take skill, grit, a heavy front wheel to make it bite but too much and you eat salad.
This is a nice Caesar salad, all greens. You can hear him moan as he eats every blade of grass, um , salad.

I'm in orange in back.

 Cross racing is a blast and the All City Bandit Cross is no different. 
Show and go.
 Run what ya' brung.
 Don't cost nothing.

Pictures from All City

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rough Rubble

My good buddy Blake and I got the fever for some gravel riding. We planned to back off the gas and have a nice long roll to enjoy summer and the freedom of country roads to break up the grit and noise of all the road riding we've been doing. I was on track to ride 1000 miles in August but after 27 hours and 533 miles in 15 days I realized the goal wasn't about 1000 miles, it was a goal to sit on a bike for 54 hours. That wasn't my intent so I abandon the goal. 500 in 15 days was easy so 1000 was just a matter of time. I didn't fail, I redirected the energy.

Side story: Now that I wasn't on my bike my buddy Terry and I dove Big Carnelian lake and had a blast. 2 dives, each about 70 minutes. Visibility was good at about 12 feet. We refind and recover a large anchor we left 2 years ago. That is, we found if but didn't take it. We also find 5 other anchors and a hand well pump (think farm) lots of old cans and bottles. Anyway, it was all sand at 27 feet. That's rare in lakes. Old open pit mines it's common but lakes is a special treat. We find acres of sand.  Our loot looked like this. 

I've been busy in my time away from the Blog. Most of it fun but not enough story for a post. Lets get on with the Gravel and how it was hell and made us rethink crushed limestone vs. gravel.

This is what we are looking for. Endless road with no traffic. Sure, gravel is messy and hard to ride on but it's all yours. It's half way between mountain biking in the trees and seeing nothing and road riding in traffic and seeing cars and ugly buildings. It's limestone bliss, but not today.

This is what we got! Rock. Round unpacked gravel. It was so loose that at times we ride in the grass on the shoulder and one time, walk and it was not up hill.

We enjoy the first 20 miles then promptly get lost. Ride 7 miles the wrong way. We go to the map, find some tar and 7 miles later we're back on gravel.

 This is a Minimum Maintenance Road but it's better then the next 40 miles of, presumably, high maintenance roads.

What is that? 

 You find stuff on bike because it's easier to stop then to peddle. So now you know about the First Parsonage, it's worth a sign and that's something. 

 It's really easy to get lost on a 70 mile ride. It's so easy, you may not even know for 10 miles or more. 
We are not lost but then we didn't know that.

We hurt and are happy to be done after 60 miles but we need to take the Luce Line back to the van. Blake and I are beat from miles of soft road but we don't want the other to know how bad so on the long straight Luce we hammer it out. Neither giving an inch. Speeds are 18 and we each attack ,softly, getting up to 21 mph and hold it as long as we can while gritting our teeth so the other doesn't see the pain we are in. It's smiles and soft breathing while the fire rages in our legs and screaming in our heads hoping the other will blow and fall off. This macho shit goes on for miles. We're both having a blast, it's not the first time we've tried to kill the other and make it look like, "Oops, did I ride too fast?"
I turn and catch Blake at a moment of weakness, his face tells all, he's cooked and I bust out laughing and fall off. We both take a rest at a slower pace, talk about how we can both get beat up by soft roads and still have the drive to empty the tanks racing the other for nothing more then the thrill of dishing out pain to a fellow rider and knowing he's crying inside to stay with you. We finish our laugh and admit our strategy and then go right back into a hard attack. We rage the last 3 miles like our saddles are on fire and we're trying to escape gun fire.

A stop at the local grocery store for bananas, fruit smoothies and mixed nuts to rebuild the body and it's about an hour drive back home.

Gravel is hell, Limestone is bliss, Riding with a buddy, fantastic. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cannon Kayak

Last weekend (something like that but I'm behind on blogs so suspend disbelief and we'll get on with the fun part, Pictures) My wife and long time climbing buddy connected a second leg of the Cannon river to Red Wing. I wasn't very interested but Brad wanted to get river experience and the wife needed an easy paddle to regain her nerves after we Eat Crow. The lower waterway is a favorite for tubers floating and boozing. I wanted nothing with that. Mostly the traffic and noise but that day it was 64 degrees. What nut job wants to soak when it's 64 degrees. Well, we'll see.

Back in May we had a blast in the Cannon River but it was upstream and we had a small gap between the last take out and the new put in. Normally I would shuttle bike back to get the van but with my buddy and his boat requiring super hero rigging to get 3 bikes, 3 boats and 3 nut jobs onto and into one vehicle we left the bikes at home.

Lets get into the story.

This is the take out.  We drop a truck and stuff the 3rd boat in the back of the Vantastic.

When you go off the map, well, you don't know where you are so that's good once you get going but the start is a mess. This, it's the wrong put-in place! You get used to being lost and unsure about what to do, its like channel surfing, if you try enough, you'll find something you can live with.

Gravel, Love the stuff for biking but the search for the entry created a bit of dust on my bike gear. Nothing a leaf blower couldn't clear up after I returned. Some Windex was also deployed so I could read the gas gauge.

 The put in now that we found it. The beach was a 5 foot cliff to roots, rocks and some water. We work the boats over the edge and then down climb. Hop in and paddle off.
We just get in, my wife is readjusting foot pegs and we have Nut Job tubers on us. These are private tubers, they own the GEAR. he he he.

 My buddy Brad, the Trip Leader.

 Good wide river makes for relaxing and sightseeing. About now we see an Eagle hunting fish but he's too far to photograph.

 Some soft Class 1 rapids
 Please hold your questions until the end. :-)

 Hazards, this one's called a strainer, are easy to avoid.

What a great day. Warm, sunny, boat, water, friends....

 Power lines are often on maps so they are easy navigation points. We are about 1/3 done with the 13 miles.

 This is still easy Class 1. It's a blast. Water is rarely deeper then 3 feet for the entire trip so the risk is nil.
 That looks like rain? Couldn't be, the Weather Guessers didn't forecast that.
 Tuber take out. This is a Strainer for Tubers, Cool. 
 The log jams are so interesting. I think about the power but see them full of trash. You'll see.
 Lunch or maybe I should call it Munch.
 OH! Rain.
 My wife, "What now?"
 Brad tries to hide under tree cover but it's weak and almost worthless. 
 I paddle out and take it in the teeth. It's cold but I packed a dry bag of winter weight fleece. I'm a nut but I'm a fleece loving nut.

 Mrs. Fleece Loving Nut
 No Fleece, no love.
Weather past we get back into the the job of wandering a river.
 A nasty set of hazard creates a reason to stop and fleece the wife. Brad carves the corners and passes the hazards with a burst of power paddling. He's on the same sand bar about 300 feet down river.

 The lower front behind the protruding tree is all garbage and trash. Lots of bottles and cans from the tubers I presume.

 Lost paddle boat. I don't know if it would work.

 My wife is celebrating something but it's a private party and Brad and I are only doormen.

 Shallow water portage

 In high water this it the south branch of the Cannon. We need to make sure to avoid getting into it but as you see, that was quite easy.

 The drag out.
 Done, Always happy to be done. Partly because the adventure was a success and part because the risk is over. 
Birds build these weak so the baby bird breaks it away and they fly away or, um, see fish.

This was better then expected. The water had more Class 1 then expected and I was real happy about that. The rain poured but didn't last long and we had the gear we needed to avoid any real problems.

We get dinner on the way home. Guess what, Mexican. Nothing says great adventure more than bad Mexican food. And on that bombshell, this post is done.