Monday, December 31, 2007

GDR Versus Tour Divide

After a couple of year's of forum chatter about differences of opinion regarding the running of the GDR, Matthew Lee has started a second race, Tour Divide, along the GDR route with the addition of the 211 mile Canadian section and without the time cut-offs and cell phone rules that were implemented last year. Looks like some of the previous riders are lining up behind Matt's new venture. For me this is a tough decision to make.
If the future of this route being raced heads in the direction of the Banff to Antelope version than I would want to be part of that just to avoid any nagging doubts later about "I wish I had done the Canadian section". The idea of switching to the Tour Divide changes my planning more than just adding 211 miles to the total mileage. I was planning on riding to the start in Roosville from my house (a 235 mile tribute to Kent Petersons 500 mile doorstep-to-start warm-up). This additional mileage seemed like a nice prologue that I was going to take slowly to adapt to the touring lifestyle. If I was to do the Tour Divide I would have to have fly or have someone drive me to Banff. Looking at these two options it is hard for me to say that I would enjoy the Canadian section so much that it would offset the flying/driving and missing out on my own prelude.
There is the other question of starting times. Some people were not happy with the June 20th starting time of the GDR this year (Tour Divide starts June 13th), though it adhears to the tradition of starting the first Friday after the Summer Solstice. I am not sure a week matters that much for me. Moving the departure one way or the other isn't an effective way of avoiding the random wrath of Mother Nature. Despite the daunting heat of 2007, previous years have endured more problems from rain than anything else. The first year the race was run some people had to have their bottom brackets replaced enroute due to damage from wet conditions. Also, with it being a La Nina weather pattern this year we are off to a good start for snow pack. All of the Montana Basins are above average for snow. Could be a lot of snow on the passes regardless of which time you start.
I do worry about the growing number of people on the route. Having done some major bike touring routes in the Western US I have discovered that business and locals eventually become less welcoming of the stinky cyclotourists that want to use bathrooms and fill water bottles. Historically this race has benefited from incredibly friendly people along the route and I hope that I am able to pass through their burgs before the hospitality dries up. I think about how many stories I read from last year that involved a cook reopening a restaurant kitchen to fix food for a GDR racer. With 20 years of cooking experience I assure you that this is a heroic act of selflessness that should not be counted on repeating indefinitely. Having a week head start on a second group of riders could avoid encountering some of the hospitality fatigue.
I will be following the hubbub and will not worry about making a decision until some of the dust settles. For my own selfish reasons it is unfortunate that this had to happen this year. This is not something that I want to spend too much time thinking about. I don't have too many strong opinions about who is wrong or right in this debate. Like many things it will work itself out but probably not this go around.

Quick BIts

Tomorrow I will be heading out for an all day ride in the snow with some friends, The route will be mostly country roads with not a lot of climbing but knocking out 85 miles on new year's day sounds like a good way to start off 2008.

This clever device seems ready made for the future of mutli-day racing. I can't see myself plucking down $300 bucks for the device and the service so that friends and family can track my exact wherabouts but I like the gadget anyway. I might have to get creative.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Getting Away

I took a little vacation up to Schweitzer for some skiing, eating and relaxing. My cycling lans flashed before my eyes when I took a spill and I twisted my leg pretty good. I don't know much about anatomy but I know enough to realize the pain was coming from the ACL, three letters that strike fear in the hearts of anyone who chooses to be physically active. I stayed cool and realized that it was possible to ski. Certain movements would activate the pain and I tried to avoid those as much as possible. I spent some time icing the area up and did some improvisational jazzercise to warm up the next morning before heading out. Lots of fresh snow made it more difficult to avoid the forbidden movements so reluctantly I finished early. By the third day I was feeling a lot better. I was confident that I had not done anything too terrible to myself and would not have to cancel any of my cycling plans.
Upon returning home I had an email from Jeff Boatman at Carousel Design Works letting me know he had sent my map case out on Monday. The bag came out just like I wanted it too. Jeff has said that he has been getting a steady stream of GDR riders contacting him about bags. I imagine that when they see my map case they will want one of them. I am grateful for the test ride I did last summer at Seeley Lake because it heavily shaped my ideas for what I needed from a mapcase. I am most happy with my idea to use a dry erase marker to keep notes on the map case clear plastic top. I always like to write things down so that I don't have to think about them.
When the mapcase gets here I am going to try and do a full packing load ride to begin the long process of dialing in the set up.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter Riding

You never know what winter is going to bring. Training is not important enough to me to workout indoors so I throw myself on the mercy of mother nature. Recent snow disappeared quickly when rain and upper 40 degree temperatures blew into town. I enjoyed a sunny ride in shirtsleeves and then a few days later Ben and I were making fresh tracks though some powdery snow in 20 degree sunshine. Both were great rides.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Flat But Not Easy

Last Monday I took advantage of what would be the last snow free day for awhile by riding the Columbia Plateau Trail out to Amber Lake. The 50 mile out and back has an imperceptible 800 feet elevation rise and is 95 percent dirt. By dirt I mean rocks, railroad bed rock. The route is scenic but monotonous and has a way of breaking me down mentally. If at any point I stop pedaling the bike does not coast but slows to a stop. This makes the ride a 4.5 hour workout with non stop high cadence spinning. I really wanted to ride longer so I climbed up Hatch hill to give the ride a nice metric century total. Not a bad ride for November.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cold Sunrise Ride

I always like to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday by getting a long ride in early before the big feast. It was 17 degrees when I left the house. I broke the cable on my Lake winter cycling boots (they replace them free I have found out) so I was wearing my summer shoes with booties. Other than the cold feet I felt good and moseyed out along the river to CDA. It was a good chance to try my new extra warm Black Diamond gloves. Within an hour they were too warm and my hands were sweating. Luckily I brought a lighter pair as well.
I stopped and got coffee at Doma ( I was surprised to see them open because that whole town was closed) and meandered north soaking up some nice sunshine. The five hour ride was flat and paved and not the most exhilarating ride to do on the mountain bike but it gave me a chance to start dialing in my new bags.
I replinished my calories and then some
and promptly fell asleep on my parents living room floor. I woke up long enough to get home and be in bed by 8:oo pm. I am going to blame the turkey not the ride.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bad Weather

With temperatures just a hair above freezing, winds that were steady at 20 mph and gusts that reached 45 mph, I convinced Ben to ride the rail trail out to Cheney. Normally this 37 mile out and back would have been nothing more than a jaunt but it was so much more because of the conditions. The Columbia Plateau Trail varies from a short paved section to energy sapping deep gravel trenches. I have been waiting for a day like today to really get the new bike broken in and to test out my new "waterproof" backpack. Ben rode his All-Mountain beast with downhill tires just to make the day more memorable. The first half was uphill into the wind and the rain. It did not take long for the chatting to dwindle. Our heads dropped as we succumbed to what would be quite a slog. The second half was a sprint to get home as soon as possible.
For my part it was a good ride. I felt fine though a bad seat position left me with a sore right knee. The backpack turned out not to be very waterproof at all. In fact it is less waterproof than my packs that do not feature "waterproof zippers". Regardless, I still like the pack and will have to employ some freezer bags to keep my contents dry in the future.
Winter is definitely nearing and I feel like a I am getting acclimatized. The routine of donning substantial layers every time I leave the house is less of a bother. I am enjoying the solitude of the trails and I am more appreciative of the sunshine when it comes. The sky is blue today and I am going to take advantage of that right now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sick No Mas and JayP talks

I officially declare my sickness over. Over two weeks of low activity. I need to be careful in ramping up the mileage too quickly. The 24 degree temperature this morning helped convince me to not push it. One big week of work ahead will get in the way of too much exercise. I have to spend an all nighter watching over a 200 lb pig that I am roasting for a big charity event Friday. After this weekend my calender is wide open again for awhile which will be a nice change.
Also here is an interview with JayP. Not much of value in it other than word that he is going to be challenging Curiak's Iditabike Nome record. SHould be a good race to follow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Buying, Spending And Using

Bicycling the coast with your two year old: money well spent.

Unbelievably I am still sick. I am not completely knocked out like last week but the foreign substance being produced deep in my sinuses and throat will keep me from doing any of the high end aerobic exercise I had been enjoying. I have a theory that our bodies want us to hibernate, to slow down, to get fat in preparation for a long winter and these autumn illnesses are the result of our attempt to fight that biological imperative to be lazy and fat. Just a theory. I have been back on the bike just running errands and commuting to work.
Yesterday I rode the bike over to buy a watch ( I have never been a watch wearer but thought it would be handy on the trip). I have a master purchase list that lays out all the things I need to acquire before next June 20. As my squirrel cache of cash fills up i look over the list and see what I should buy next. Looking at the list all of the big items are taken care of bike/bags/ lights/backpack. Remaining are things like chlorine dioxide, sunscreen and socks. Looking at all the things I have picked up and the things left to buy, I had to wonder if this event is an elaborate excuse to buy new stuff.
Twelve years ago I had a similar feeling when my wife and I biked down the Pacific Coast with our two year old daughter. The REI dividend that year was amazing. Twelve years later, we still have and use many of the things we purchased for that trip. We definitely got our money out of them because we bought good stuff that was going to last.
I have always thought that you don't have to have a lot of money to have the things you want, you just have to have a way to analyze what is important. I could find justifications to buy an iPhone, a 320gb external hard drive (on sale for only $99), a new ski jacket or a coffee maker. All of these things I have a legitimate need for but I have narrowed my field of vision for acceptable personal purchases. All of the money I spend is separate from the general operating fund that pays the mortgage and keeps food on the table. All purchases involve cash, no credit. I have committed myself to acquiring the items I need for this event and given myself enough time to get the money together for them; no impulse buys.
Perhaps after the race I will decide it is time to buy a coffee maker and forego my morning routine of boiling water and brewing one cup at a time with a mesh cone filter. The important thing is that whatever I spend my money on I want to feel like it was money well spent and the truest test of that it use.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I am sick. It is bound to happen this time of year. Despite missing out on a 70 degree fall day when I could have been on the road doing a 100 miler, the timing of my sore throat is as good as it could be. I have all day to sleep and drink hot toddies before the work week begins. The Bioneers conference and Epicurean Charity event are coming up and it is a reminder that I have to get better at clearing my schedule. Lately, there has been a lot of activity on the food side of my world and the calendar is filling up with meetings and events. The goal is no obligations after the first of the year. Work keeps me busy enough without having to do a lot of extra curricular activity.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Heart Beats And The Beater Bike

After a month of riding the new bike almost exclusively it was something to get back on the Ibis. With over ten years on this bike, it really stands out as the bike that feels like home. I can't even begin to fathom the tens of thousands of miles I have ridden on it. Despite what appears to be a long loving relationship, the Ibis is in deplorable condition (as always) The brakes are for braking only in theory, the chain is protected by a thick layer of grease that looks more like crude oil than chain lube, the headset has an indexing problem, the left crank arm is bent, the bar tape is disintegrating, the chain tensioner is held together by a zip tie and the once beautiful paint job is just plain sad. With that being said, it was great to take the bike out on it's favorite ride to CDA and back (no hills limited stop signs).
You would think that a regular diet of 5-6 hour dirt rides with 4-6 mile climbs would make the CDA ride seem easy but singlespeeding is funny that way. 80 miles of flat is 80 miles without coasting. It is 40 miles of high cadence tailwind and 40 miles of high intensity riding back into the 20 mph wind. No wonder those Belgiums are such tough bikers.
Digging through my bike boxes I came across my old heart rate monitor. There was a time when I thought that I needed to learn how to train and got into the science. I read all the books and tried to follow a structured routine. It did not work for me. I stopped using the HRM because I discovered that my breathing was an accurate way to access the level of effort I was expending. Regardless, I thought it might be fun to put a new battery in the HRM and see what kind of readings I would get with my now older body.
I was interested to see that my walk around Hr was 42 BPM. I can ride with a tailwind for a couple of hours without breaking 110 bpm. I can ride hard for an indefinite amount of time at 162 bpm and drop down to 124 bpm when I stop at an intersection.
I won't be riding with the HRM everyday but I will use it on some rides throughout the year just for curiosities sake.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Chilco Mountain

In endurance athletics, ignoring the nagging voices in the head that try and talk you out of the activity at hand is just part of pushing oneself. Then comes a time when you have to decide whether the voices are right. Intuition is a difficult thing because it can sound just like the negative thoughts that want to send you back to that warm bed that you left behind to sweat and grunt out yet another 5-6 hour ride. Intuition is knowing when experience not laziness says to bag it.
Today I headed out to the CDA national forest to ride the Independence Creek National Scenic Trail. I was excited at the prospect of riding a lengthy singletrack trail that winds along a valley floor. No two hour climbs, no endless washboarded forest roads; this was going to be fun. With that said, I pulled the plug on the ride after riding up to the trailhead. It was a beautiful morning with fog in the valleys and sunshine up at 4600 feet where I was. I can't say exactly why I turned around and went home but the hunters might have had something to do with it. In three miles I came across three groups of hunters. There was a large camp set up at the beginning of the trail with several trucks and a couple of trailers. I don't want to get shot but I find that outcome to be fairly unlikely with the noise my bike makes coming through woods. Regardless, my intuition told me to skip today's ride and that was good enough for me.
I salvaged the morning by stopping by Doma Coffee Roastery and having some espresso and conversation with Terry. The day turned out to be one of those perfect days of Fall when the sky is impossibly blue and the mood is mellow. I went home and made some stew with the veggies from the garden and tried not to worry about the ride I could have had. I have to trust that intuition was in control and it is the wise voice of reason and experience.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Richmond Peak

Click Picture to see it Montana size.

Saturday after work I drove the 280 miles to Seeley lake MT to do a pre-ride of the GDR segment that goes over Richmond Peak. On Sunday morning I woke up early, parked my car at the gas station and rode Highway 83 twenty some miles to Holland Lake. At Holland Lake I got on the GDMBR. I started the route at 7:30 a.m. My goal with this ride was to get an understanding of the terrain. When they say "begin steep climb" what is that comparable to from my terrain back home?
Overall the ride is pretty much what I thought it was going to be. It does remind me of the riding I have been doing in the Coeur d' Alene national Forest. Long gravel climbs and the occasional rocky single track. The differences were few but significant.
Altitude. Once the climb got in the 5,000 to 7,000 foot range the legs felt empty but it was just the lack of oxygen. When I remembered to exaggerate my breathing things improved.
Navigation. I don't have any experience following cue sheets and the ACA maps use of running mileage totals bothered me. I was reading off of the maps and then shoving them into my side mesh pockets on my pack. When I got to the next turn I would pull the map out agoing. This experience has given me insight into how to write-me own cue sheets. The running mileage total doesn't work all that well if you get off course. After doubling back to the route the mileage is all wrong and you spend the rest of the day doing math for every turn. And yes I took a wrong turn...a really bad wrong turn. Up on Richmond peak I knew that my next navigational cue was "switchback to the right" also vaguely remembered the line "trail deteriorates". I saw a switchback with a gate and though the directions did not mention a gate I saw orange arrows pointing up the deteriorated trail. I had been seeing the orange arrows all day so I thought it helped the case for this being the turn. I followed that brushy rock and rut path for two miles DOWNHILL before I accepted the fact that that I was going to be going back up to where I came from. Getting off track (different than getting lost imho) is part of the GDR and so for that reason it was good to get a little of that practice in as well.
Scenery. I am not saying that the vistas are not beautiful around these parts but staring into the mountains of the Bob Marshall Wilderness I felt compelled to take up painting so that I could spend my days looking at them.
The full ride was 65.0 miles with a moving average of 11.3 mph and with 41 minutes of stopped time I had an overall average of 10.0 mph. I rode for 5 hours and 45 minutes. Starting at 5:50 a.m. I finished at 12:19 p.m.
There were no problems on the ride but my pedal fell off while pedaling down the dirt road into town. Nothing was wrong it just managed to vibrate itself loose during the long descent off of Richmond peak. I have never had this happen before and I wrenched it on to make sure that it would be the last time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CDA 70 miler

I haven't ridden out in the CDA forest since the 60 miler that left the Gary Fisher with multiple component failure and that was early summer. I was eager to continue piecing together the route for a hundred miler. I decided to follow the course from the beginning in downtown CDA but this time I wanted to add a drop down Trail 78 to the South Fork and then back up to Hudlow Saddle.
I admit that I am out of shape. I know that the months ahead before the GDR will require consistent increases in fitness and I have allowed myself to take the summer off from worrying about that. Considering I am at the bottom physically I have to be pleased with my ride yesterday. Regardless of what kind of shape I am in I can always grind out some long hills and long miles. I would have preferred to understand algorithms but I got the slow hill climbing gene instead.
The route consists of some hills that are perfect for me and my 2:1 gear ratio.
The first climb up Fernan Creek road is paved and climbs 2518 feet over 8.95 miles. A mile later the burnt cabin trail tops out with a 1461 foot 3.08 mile rise. There is another good rise from burnt cabin saddle up to Spade Mountain but at the end of the day it is not much to worry about. From Spade mountain Trail 78 is some technical singletrack that drops down to the river. The descent is so long and difficult, it left me as wiped out as the climb that preceded it. FR 392 does a serpentine climb up to Hudlow saddle. The road barely tilts ups. It does most of it's 1743 feet of climbing in the switchback corners that are numerous during it's 6.35 mile length. From the saddle I took a wrong turn and made the descent down to Hayden lake a little early. The route was new so once I discovered I went the wrong way I decided it wasn't worth climbing a couple thousand extra feet just to come down the next road over. The 100 mile route won't come down this way in fact it will come up the road after descending Hell's Canyon trail. Ohio Match road is a bumpy dirt climb that starts behind Hayden Lake and climbs a mere 1666 feet over it 9.36 mile length. Yes, it is a gradual climb but considering it's placement towards the end of the ride in the afternoon sun; I started thinking about the end just after the halfway mark. The last couple of miles were an exercise in mental strength.
I decided to come down Canfield butte on trail 10 and was able to find it only after I found a couple of dead ends. For some reason I have a knack for picking dead end trails when I am at Canfield. Trail 10 is a douzy of a descent with trenches filled with rocks and plenty of root drops. I was pleased with my handling of the worst part at the top and feel like I am making progress with my technical riding ability. Of course, that doesn't seem right to say after the fall I took on the lower "easy" section.
I still don't know what happened but I was cranking on the pedals and then I felt the whole drivetrain come to a short stop. While skidding I had enough time to think that I had survived another close call and then I went elbow first into the rocks.
I expected to see a mangled chain or a bent wheel but the bike was absolutely perfect. The numerous gouges in my forearm hurt like hell so I did not spend any time trying to see what the cause of the accident was. I had been riding six and a half hours at this point and the car was still 7 mile away. Having no more water made the last bit of riding a grueling slog.
I am clean and bandaged now and feel great about the riding yesterday.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Liberty Lake Climbing

Mt. Spokane was good fun last week but it was all about the downhill. This week Ben and I headed to Liberty Lake. Liberty Lake is all about the climbing. Even after getting to the top, the downhill is just what you do after the climbing. I always ride from the West side of the lake up tire shack hill. I rode up from the County park on east side once and did not really care for that route. The climbing from the lake up to Mica Peak is relentless and for a good stretch, utterly torturous. The rocky, rutted and steep section in the middle of the ride is difficult to walk (as I did) and nearly impossible to ride (as Ben did).
The trail starts at 2216 feet and we finished up 8.3 miles later at 4710 feet. We turned around at the rock shelter which is a false summit but the waning sunlight and my wasted legs told me to go home. I have a touch of some bug going around. I felt good at the start but the legs had no reserves. I kept bottoming out and the legs couldn't turn the pedals over. I haven't been so destroyed in years.
The downhill is stupid fast and filled with water trenches that are either perfect for a little airtime theatrics or for an unexpected endo at 25 miles an hour.
I am going to be using this climb as a marker for my fitness this fall. I would like to try it again Friday but I will see if my health returns enough.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Glamour Shots

I have been riding the Independent Fabrications Steel Deluxe around for several hundred miles now and finally have some pictures of the bike. The fit has been dialed in now and I couldn't be happier.
This 4140 steel Surly Torsion Bar is 26.2 inches wide (666mm) and sports a nice 20 degree bend.

Single Speed and Phil Wood. Mmmm. 32 spokes and some heavy duty DT Swiss Tk 7.1 rims make the wheels heavy but bombproof.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The IF Versus Mt Spokane

The IF got some mileage on it and I got a chance to see if my choices were good ones. Since there are so many small factors that go into putting a bike together it is difficult for me to pinpoint the degrees of effectiveness for companants but I can say what how my riding feels different.
Mt. Spokane is a rounded nob of a hill that rises to 5800 feet from the 2000 foot countryside around it. A paved road goes to the to the top during the summer and Ben, Drew and I took advantage of that fact to get a couple of shuttle runs down the mountains Southwest flank. The 6-7 mile long downhill starts off fairly steep with lots of root drops and narrow trees. For the first time ever I felt comfortable negotiating this section. In the past I felt as though at any minute I would dive over the handle bars against my will. The new sense of balance I am attributing to the new frame geometry. It was easier for me to ride behind the seat so I could not only get my weight back but also down a bit.
On the second run down we went through a freshly cut trail that chicanes through some tightly spaced young pines. Either due to complacency or fatigue I managed to catch the outside of my barend on a tree while trying to slalom through. It is good to get the first wreck out of the way and aside from a sore place on my side, it was pretty harmless. The accident made me think about how wide my bars really are. The Surly Instigator bar is a whopping 26.2 inches long with a 20 degree bend. This is not the best choice for tight singletrack but the rest of the time I was loving the comfort of the scorcher like steel bar.
After a good sleep with some fresh alpine air, I biked out to my folks for a family reunion. The three hour ride with a full back pack was a good test for the bikes comfort factor. All signs point to yes. I was happy to stroll along into the wind with my hands out at the end of the bars, pushing my 34x17 at 14-15 miles an hour. Later when the wind got behind me I could keep a reasonable cadence and roll at 18 mph.
Without a doubt I could not be happier with my new bike. I have no doubt that it will keep me happy for a long time to come. I was additionally pleased my Dad looked the bike over and said,"looks like a normal bike". I have had one or two flashy bikes in the past and never felt at peace with them. This black bomber may not be fancy looking but that is a good thing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

...and there was joy.

I have a new bike. What I don't have is a camera. My beloved Sony is not feeling well so pictures of the new steed will have to wait. What won't wait is riding. I have been doing some shakedown riding the last 24 hours. Tonight I am planning a full scale night ride and then tomorrow I am heading to Mt Spokane for a couple of days of up and down on freshly moistened trails.
My impression of the new set up is that the bars are too high and the seat not far enough back. I committed myself to staying with the prescribed set up for at least a couple of weeks. I could see how this bar position could help my hand problems but it may be at the expense of my ass.
I had some confusion with the disc brakes. Being a bit of a Luddite I have been reluctant to get on the disc program but lack of brake posts on suspension forks has forced my hand. Everyone talks about how easy the Avids are to setup and how powerful they are. I set them up and got zero power. After some consultations I got the lowdown on pad break-in. A quick lap around the neighborhood while squeezing the brakes and now they stop like champs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Idaho Sweet Idaho

I have been doing some research on the Iron Horse trail. The 300 mile rail trail crosses Washington and finishes up just south of Spokane. The thing is the more I learn about the route the less I want to do it. Sand, sagebrush, poorly maintained sections and miles of scenery that can only be described as scablands. Then I find out about the Idaho Centennial Trail, a 1200 mile route that goes border to border on the North-South Axis. The course appears to be chock full of singletrack. I have done hiking and biking in several of the areas it crosses and know the trails to be extremely challenging. The state park's website has a thorough index of map PDF's. I will definitely have to put this on the to-do list but after the GDR.
In other Gem state news...
Despite doing my growing up elsewhere I have always considered Boise a second hometown. Though I have not been back to the city of my birth since I raced the Boise Banzai years ago, I imagined that things were pretty much the same down there. I am wrong. I heard talk of Boise's Urban Cycling scene growing huge. Now I have some solid evidence. This alleycat race video shows an impressive turnout and an unfortunate bike/car misshap.

As a bonus I include a nearly successful over-the-road jump in the hills below Bogus Basin.

Monday, August 6, 2007

s24o: Sandpoint Road Loop

After work Saturday I packed a very basic overnight kit into a back pack (17 pounds total weight) and headed north. I followed Highway 2 to Sandpoint (80 miles). I originally thought that I was going to spend the night on the beach but favorable wind got me into town early so after having some coffee and pastries I continued on my way. I went south on Highway 95 across the Long Bridge. A full belly, late day sun and a bike lane that is wider than the highway it is coupled with made for some happy riding. I made it to Athol (110 miles) by 9:00 p.m. and really wanted to keep going but I realized that if I didn't stop I would be tempted to just ride home rather than sleep in the bushes. Since the point of the trip was to get an overnight in, I headed East into Farragut State Park to poach a piece of ground to sleep on. I cruised through the campground loops and was surprised to see that new bathrooms have been built since I was at Farragut last. The bathrooms have private rooms with free showers. No shower for me I was just interested in filling my water bottles. The bathroom sinks are too shallow to do the job so the showers came in handy.
I did not have a alarm clock so I found a big open field with the theory that the early morning light would gently wake me. The field was across the road from a campground loop and set back behind some trees and boulders. It seemed ideal. I was not expecting that the sound of trucks and cars would be coming and going ALL NIGHT LONG. Diesel engines idling, brakes squeaking, horns honking. I was amazed at the racket.
It wasn't dawn's early light that woke me, it was the sound of automatic lawn sprinklers. It seems that the field that I was in, despite it's lack of grass was some kind of activities area and was watered nightly. I moved fast and was able to pack up and get out before the water cycle began in my part of the field. By 5:00 a.m. I was back in Athol having coffee and eating a croissant egg sandwich from the deli case. Helpful Tip: Don't eat croissant egg sandwiches from gas stations in Athol, Idaho. I wasted some time trying to find Diagonal Road. I should have looked at the map a little closer because I ended up back on Highway 95 through one of the deadliest stretches of highway in the area, Luckily it was early and traffic was non-existant.
I made it home (180 miles) by 9:00 a.m. had a shower and enjoyed some real breakfast. When the ride started I was disturbed by the amount of discomfort my pack was putting on my right shoulder. Later my arse began to throb and then my hands started to show the effects of riding with no gloves and ultra thin handlebar tape. I never worry about these things much because I believe in Pain Attention Disorder. I get distracted by a striking sunset, nasty roadkill or by a newer more interesting pain and forget about what seemed like an important bodily protest.
What I learned on this ride: need to eat more food that is not high sugar content, to sleep soundly in farragut you must go way off the beaten path, Chrome bike pants rub my junk the wrong way after 100 miles, Even on quick trips some extra bag balm would be handy, when wearing thin socks the tongue of my Sidi's rub my foot, I need to commute with more weight in my pack.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Componant Commtiment

It's a done deal. The parts are on the way. I am not used to putting this much effort into buying bike stuff. For the last ten years I have been buying lower mid level off-the-rack bikes and rotating them out after several years. There is a certain pleasure in hand picking components but it was hard to make the final commitment.

freewheel ACS 17t
Front Brake Avid bb7 frt brake
Seat Koobi PRS Enduro
Brake Levers Paul LPZ 2.5 silver
brakes Paul Motolite z brake
Headset Chris King Silver
Nipples Dt Swiss Competition
Spokes DT Swiss Competition silver
rims Dt Swiss Tk7.1
hub Phil Wood SS frt disc 32h
Phil Wood SS dst 32 h
crankset Raceface Evolve XC SS 34t
Fork Rock Shox Reba Race 29er
chain whitestar connex
Handlebar surly torsion
seatpost 29.4 Thomson Elite
Stem Thomson Elite 110mm 10deg
tires WTB Nanoraptor 29 pair

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Frame In Hand

My new frame is in hand and as beautiful as it is, it won't really be worth getting excited about until the parts are on and it can be put to use. My best guess is by the end of this month it will hit the dirt.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random Bits

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the 4th Annual Midnight Century. As always it gave me the opportunity to ride with a great group of guys. As always it made me ride faster that I would have without the speedy company.

The IF frame arrives today which means I can no longer put off making the final decision on my parts list.

I have received some encouraging emails from people I don't even know. It seems that things are balancing out.

Stretching is good.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shut Up And Ride

The Great Divide Resources sidebar on the left side of this page is evidence that the internet plays a fairly large role in the Great Divide Race. Many people have selflessly provided route beta, shared gear lists and posted complete ride reports detailing the ins and outs of the race. I know that I have already benefited from this open sharing of information and because of that I chose to chronicle my GDR experience from the decision to participate through the last day of riding.
I have never spent any time on internet forums of any kind before I started monitoring the GDR threads. Sometimes there is genuinely useful information but a good amount of the time it is just boring and some of the time it delves into the kind of argumentativeness that I have no interest in. It is easy enough to not participate and skip over the animosity but when it ends up in my email inbox it is hard not to be taken back.
For reasons that are not worth going over, someone decided that it was necessary to tell me that I have a low level of intelligence. Furthermore, I lack the needed qualifications to speak about the GDR and was potentially degrading the event with my appallingly put together comments.
I wished that it did not bother me but I am not used to confronting this kind of vitriol. It was especially shocking because it came from someone that I had looked at with a high level of respect because of his exemplary attitude leading up to and during the race. I was blind-sided. After several days of mulling it over I still come back to the feeling that perhaps there is no benefit in participating in the virtual GDR community that exists. I would not make any decisions based on one persons harsh criticism but it has given me pause to think about whether this web project and the GDR forums are a benefit to my goal or just another distraction from the things that are truly important.
When the discussions turn ugly in cycling forums, inevitably someone throws out the "Shut Up and Ride." line. This line is meant to be an insult cast against a foe amidst an argument but I am going to turn it inward, regard it as a mantra and try as I can to live it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Meeting Kent Peterson

While chronicling the year long lead up to the race I am sure that yesterday is going to be a red letter day. What could be better than meeting Kent Peterson? Kent is the first and only single speed finisher of the race so far. His resume that precedes the GDR is so impressive that I could not see how anyone would have doubted his success despite the lack of mtn bike experience and luddite choice of equipment.
Local cycling mover and shaker John Speare was playing host to Kent as he biked through Spokane as part of a statewide tour promoting cycling as transportation. John was nice enough to arrange a coffee klatch for Kent and I.
Kent was as friendly as you would guess from his internet writings. We spent nearly two hours on the subject of the great divide and his information will undoubtedly be useful. Of particular interest was his opinion about which section is the most difficult and what he would do different if he ever did it again.
I don't think I will changing much of my game plan after our talk (my extensive research plucked much of his wisdom from his lengthy ride report of the race already) but he did strengthen my understanding of the improvisational attitude that is necessary to do the race. This spirit was exemplified this year by Nathan Bay's use of a wood stick to solve the problem of a broken seatpost. It seems that during the 2500 bumpy miles things are going to go wrong. Everything comes down to how you handle calamities.
I thought it was interesting that Kent's only question for me was why I am doing the GDR. In the end that may be the only question worth asking. Finishing time goals, equipment choices or previous experience have a way of becoming irrelevant under circumstances as difficult as the Divide Route. After some babbling I zero'd in the core reason: without a doubt if I don't do it I will spend my life regretting the missed opportunity.
There are other big adventures that fascinate me like the iditabike but I recognize that a 350 mile bike races in the middle of the Alaskan winter is not for me. The great Divide on the other hand plays to my interests in so many ways. If it followed the Appalachian Trail I wouldn't be interested. If it had a two man team format I would pass on it. If it was divided into stages it would not hold my attention. Send me out alone on a bicycle to traverse the Western Untied States with the notion that I am going to try and accomplish something beyond my proven abilities; this is readymade for me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Moon Tan Time

July's heat wave continues. I have shortened the duration of my rides, increased my intensity as well as doing more stretching and strength exercises. Today's 62 miler was the hilly last half of the Midnight Century.
The midnight century is less than two weeks away and I plan on stretching that to a dbl century ride on the fixed gear. The climbs are going to make me suffer with that 49x16 gearing. I want to keep my level of endurance high so that when I get the new Indy Fab put together (late August?) I can break it in proper.
I am considering a trip over to Montana in September for a test ride on the GDMBR section from Canada to Whitefish. If my pre-riding of sections is going to be limited than it might make more sense to ride a section of the route with trickier navigation and/or more climbing. Perhaps the infamous fleecer ridge.
I have begun deconstructing the "Cycling The Great Divide" book by Michael McCoy. My plan is to create a spreadsheet with all the relevant information displayed in linear fashion. Logistical information such as Campsites, food and water availability as well as strategic data like "four mile climb" or "28 miles of pavement". Basically anything that could be helpful when trying to make decisions along the route. After inputing the information from the book I will then cross check it against some ride reports I have been collecting. Eventually it will all get folded into the route directions that come with the ACA maps. It is a heap of data so getting a good start on it is imperative.
As soon as the Midnight Century passes I will post info about the first ever "Hangover Hundred". What could be better than starting off the new year with a winter century ride?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Race Is Over, A new Frame Begins

The Tour de France 1933

The Great Divide Race 2007 is over no racers remain on the course. Of the three singlespeeders none finished in regulation time but Nathan Bay managed to complete the course in 25 days and 8 hours. I am noticing a trend of repeat racers. Mostly people who pulled the plug early and come back for another go. Based on the increasing interest in the race coupled with a good number of return racers what am I to expect from 2008. 35 starters? 50 starters? I hope not. I think that 10-15 racers would be ideal.
In other news I have pulled the plug on my frame build from the company i will no longer mention. I am now getting a frame built by Independent Fabrication. IF has always been my dream bike and after dealing with the last custom frame builder I am quite resigned to paying the extra money to have the process handled quickly and professionally.
My experience with IF has been amazing so far. I had a bike design with CAD drawings in under 24 hours. There are invoices and clear production schedules. These things seem so rudimentary but I went 7 months with the last frame builder without drawings, phone calls or a realistic time estimate (10 weeks was the original quote back in january. I received one email in April suggesting that he might start my bike the next week but it looks like that did not happen.
I will be more than happy to forget the whole thing happened as soon as I get my deposit back. I WILL get my deposit back or this will get ugly.
Training wise, I feel some snappiness in the legs after taking it easy for a week. I am trying to emphasize hard rides with high cardio versus the endurance based riding of early summer. I am getting a new wheel built up for the mtn bike so hopefully I can get back over to the CDA forest for an 80 miler. I am not in too much of a hurry because the temps are over 100 degrees every day. North Division Bikes is doing the wheel build. I have always liked the shop but since it isn't the most convenient shop to my house I never go there.I also dropped of my parts list for the frame. Two days later no word back. I am developing a theory that bike shops don't call people. They are more than content to wait for you to come back in. As much as LBS talk about the threat of internet sales they don't act like they are afraid of losing anyones business. I am not ruling out sourcing the parts myself. Hopefully North Division will come through and it won't come to that.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Stage Racing At The GDR?

As the final riders are making their last push for Antelope Wells, I have been thinking a lot about some of the things that have been different about this years GDR and what it means for next year and beyond. A comment was made that this year more people were treating it like a stage race. They stayed in big groups through out the day and shared motel rooms at night. This style of riding is not what I expect my experience to be like next year nor would I want it to be. But it brings another wrinkle into the question of what this race is supposed to be about and what things could deteriorate that ethos.
Now that we see many of those group riders finishing I think that it is apparent that the stage race theory does not help anyone finish quickly. Most racers will be sneaking in under the 25 day cut off. The argument against group riding would carry more weight if it appeared that it was an effective way to cut days off of your time.
Going back to John Stamsted's ride that established a record for the course, this event is an individual time trial. Stamsted's ride and the record breaking ride by Mike Curiak created an inspiring memory for many people and that inspiration is now drawing new racers to the solo, unsupported world. I have no interest in changing the GDR because I want to experience it the way John and Mike did. Talk of Satellite Phone GPS tracking and team tactics may capture the fascination of people but I would not apply them to this event.
I suspect that all of the scuttlebutt will eventually lead to a splintering of this splinter sect of cycling's small enduro mountain bike community. I just hope that the accelerated pace of change doesn't alter the purity of this solo, individual challenge before I can experience it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

June Review

June broke the 1000 mile mark but did so with just 16 training rides. There was a good 60 mile mountain bike ride and of course the dbl century road ride. The biggest difference for the month was more time on the fixie. The big gear on that bike makes for some good workouts even if I am just riding home from work. Though there is nothing spectacular about June's training, both the 60 mile mtn ride and the 200 mile day are good markers to my fitness. Neither one of those rides bothered me at all and I was able to ride normally after them.
I have mapped out the next three months and the big change will be more overnighters. In August I will be doing some two and a half day fast mini tours. I think that multiple days of hard riding is really what I need now. One barrier I am coming up against is the maintenance of my bikes. There will be no more mtn bike rides until I get a new wheel built for the gary fisher. I am ready to get back up into the CDA NF and extend my 100 mile route out to Chilco Mountain but that will have to wait.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Tour of Pain 200 miler Ride Report

The pre-dawn scene at the Steam Plant parking lot was the familiar awkwardness of people preparing to embark on a journey that will inevitably be uncomfortable and potentially regrettable. People in full racing kits with fancy schmancy bikes give me a quick glance and throw me into the "just trying to finish" category in the same way they would write off someone showing up with running shoes and toe straps.
The fact that my bike has one gear is not what inspires this because if I was riding a gleaming $5000 custom single speed road machine with 24 spoke wheels they would recognize that I am a real cyclist and might be intrigued enough to give me a nod of acknowledgment.
My mismatched tires, zip tie chain tensioner, knickers and dog eaten gloves paint a picture that seemed accurate enough as the pack of 25 riders took off down 3rd avenue. With the first downhill I spun out as they all slipped into a 52x12 and motored away in one efficient group. Within ten minutes of the start I was on a country road with just the morning songbirds to keep me company. Gino was running sweep and for lack of better things to do would drive up and harass me. After 15 miles, I made a turn and noticed that my front tire was soft. After inflating my front tire, my speed jumped by 2 mph and I had a laugh about this handicap.
Just before reaching the town of Plaza, a hawk was sitting on a road sign and stayed there until I was right next to him. As I pedaled he flew, no more than 10-15 feet away, side by side. The experience gave me chills. I thanked the hawk and considered this experience to be a good omen,
An hour later I got to the first food stop. There was a rider lingering. This was the first rider I had seen since the start. I had already made the plan to keep my off bike time short so I filled my bottles and kept moving. I was no longer carrying the lanterne rouge. Another hour later I caught up to two more riders. A couple of more just after that. This how my day would go.
I felt great all day but I do not like the hour after hour of high cadence riding. My legs don't like it and my mind really doesn't like it. Give me a long grinding hill instead. I really do find it much more enjoyable. The section between Harrison and CDA is 40 miles with almost all of the climbing for the whole route. I loved it. I felt better in CDA than when I left Harrison.
After CDA it is 40 miles of flat high cadence riding again (damn that low gearing). I finished with an official time of 12:30 with a total riding time of 11:49. Some of the 40 minutes was ordering and eating some french fries and pepsi at the CDA brewery. They made me happier than all the hammer products I had been living off of all day.
Finishing with a 17 mph average on a 39x17 gear after 200 miles is a successful ride for me. The best part about it was when I reached the magic point in the day when I switch over from every day riding to that special feeling. The special feeling is when my body gives into the notion that this is no ordinary training ride. My focus tightens and my minor aches and pains are numbed. At that point I feel like I can go as long as I need to. After 6-7 hours the only thing I have to worry about is keeping the calories coming and staying positive. That special feeling is why I do this.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

It gets scarier when you click on it.

New wheel getting built was not going to happen. Wrong axle length on the Bianchi, so I can't steal that wheel. The Gary Fisher wheel fits but I broke my 16t freehub cog a couple of months ago. A friend gave me an old shimano cassette. Put the 16t on the Gary Fisher wheel. Put road tire on wheel. Adjust brakes for new rim width. Test Ride. Wheel out of true, rear wheel bounces up and down like clown bike. Grab spoke wrench, first three spoke nipples dissolve when I attempt to rotate them (seriously, the nipples just crumbled). That wheel is now shot ( it has just under 5000 miles on it). After all of this I put the original wheel back on the bike and resign myself to a slower pace than I would like.
The bright side.
After reinstalling the 17t on the Gary Fisher wheel and properly spacing it on the cassette, I rode the bike around the block, Not only was the rear wheel a drunk simulator, the front wheel was making some tremendous noise. I realized that I had some cartridge bearings. I put the new bearings in the front hub and it now rolls smooth and quiet. It was a small victory, a victory that doe not make the bike any more useable at present but after this last week it was a victory I could celebrate nonetheless.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Hate My Local Bike Shop

The Tour Of Pain is this weekend and there has been a snag, Last week I thought I had found a solution to my rear wheel problems when the Local Bike Shop closest to my house found an old single speed flip-flop hub that they could build me a wheel with. They said the wheel would be ready in a week. A week passed without a call, I called them yesterday and it went like this:
"I am just checking on my wheel."
"We have not opened the shipment with your hub in it, but the box is right here"
"I did not order a hub, you had a suntour flip-flop hub for me"
" turns out that was a tandem hub so we ordered you a different hub."
"What hub did you order me?"
"I don't know I haven't opened the box."

Why wouldn't they call and say they were ordering a part for me? Don't they think I would have a preference? Two hours later I get a call back.

"We have a wheel here for you."
"you built it that fast?"
"no we found a wheel already built and ready to go, I just need to adjust the chainline." (I am assuming that they scrambled to find a wheel after it was discovered they did not order the hub or ordered the wrong one.)
"What kind of wheel is it?"
"It's a nice alloy wheel."
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. An alloy wheel, this is all he can tell me about it. I should have known this was going to be bad, but I decided that I was going to be glad that I had a solution to my problem.
I showed up at the shop on the bike that is going to get the wheel. I ran into some people I know and talked to them as the guy I had been talking to did some measuring of my chainline.
After an hour of him switching out spacers on the axle, I paid the hundred bucks for my generic wheel, strapped it to my rack and rode home. At home it did not take me long to figure out that the hub was in fact not a single speed hub, it is probably a 7 speed hub so old it has freewheel threads. The ridiculous thing is that after an hour of chainline adjustments the chain line was still off but that did not matter because the entire wheel was about an inch off center. Worthless.

All of this comes just a few weeks after I asked them to order a set of pedals. It would have been cheaper and faster to order them online but I want to support my LBS. A week later I show up at the shop (because no one called me). There was some hushed talking in the back room and then one guy lets me know that they forgot to order them and wanted to know if they should reorder. Several months before that I walked in with an extensive parts list for my new frame. It was well over $2000 of equipment. I asked if they could give me a price quote on the list so that I could see if it would work with my budget. the list had my email and cell number. Several weeks later, I was told that they gave the list to the owner but he was not around. I never did get the quote and they will never again see me step foot in that store. Just so you know, these are the last three examples, I have been struggling to make this relationship work ever since the only guy who knew what he was doing left a couple of years ago.
BTW, another local shop, Wheelsport South, emailed me back the parts list in the hour and for that they will get the $2000 to put the bike together.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Great Divide Race At The Half

The GDR powers have created a time cut off in Steamboat Springs that goes into effect tomorrow at noon. Racers must be LEAVING Steamboat at this time in order to be officially in the race. There is a lot of chatter about this rule and the pilot car issue of last week but in the end, neither of these matters is going to make a difference in the winning, record breaking or finishing of the race. It simply comes down to the simple fact that in order to finish you have to keep moving. I am surprised by the number of hotel stops by the racers this year. Matthew Lee has said that towns are obstacles that should be dealt with swiftly. Get in, get out.
Kent Peterson has pointed out that there is very little being said about the single speeders on the route. It appears that Nathan Bay is hanging in there and should make the cut off. Jeff Kerby has not made contact since Flagg Ranch and so things don't look good with him. Dave Nice the fixed gear rider has dropped out but was well below the cut off. Of course, as a fixed gear rider just finishing the route, no mater how long it took him, would have given him some place in history. I have not done the math to figure out if Kent's 22:03:09 single speed record is in jeopardy.
UPDATE: Jeff Kerby checked in from Steamboat so he is still in the race but it looks like he has fallen off of a record breaking single speed pace.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Less Training, More Practice

It turns out that the problem with getting my wheel being built before saturday's 200 miler is the lack of single speed hubs in this town. Half a million people in the metropolitan area and I couldn't come up with a bike shop that had a single speed hub. The wheel is being built with an old suntour flip/flop fixed/free hub. It has cartridge bearing so that makes me happy but the 36 spoke count is a bit much for the road bike. Even riding my road bike on trails frequently I have never had a problem with a 32 spoke rear wheel.
The Great Divide race is into it's second week and there are more people in the race than I would have expected by this time, though many are dangling below the pace that would allow them to finish within the 25 day time limit. Krein has updated the spreadsheet of the racers. I have found this page so fascinating that I plan on going back and putting all of the previous years into a similar format just to see what information i can glean about pacing, strategy and where people have problems,
Regardless of whether Jay Petervary breaks the record, wins or even finishes; one thing is for certain, his set up will be studied and copied by future racers. I expect that Jeff from Carousel Design Works will be extremely busy in the next year building bags for the next group of GDR riders. No rack is the future, especially for the front runners.

"Don't Train, Practice" Kent Peterson, Great Divide Race Single Speed Record Holder

I have mapped out the next three months of overnighters. It occurred to me that now is the best time to get a lot of the long fast overnighters in. It really puts the pressure on me to begin organizing my gear. I still don't have much in the way of a first aid kit. I need to have a better thought out tool and parts bag and I have not done much gas-n-go shopping. I really need to eat more candy bars and drink soda when riding. I should leave the house without any food or drink and make myself stock up on the fly. Economically it is not very smart but it would be good practice.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tour Of Pain Is On Deck

I will be doing the 200 mile Tour of Pain next weekend. I am worked up about the whole thing for several reasons. I have never ridden two hundred miles on the road before. This is a bit odd to worry about because I have ridden over 200 miles off road many times with my longest single ride being 256 miles. I can't explain it but I think it is harder to ride long distance on the road. In the end it is a mental challenge and road riding can be the kind of monotony that makes the mind free to go to bad places.
I am also concerned about equipment. I am going to see if I can get a new wheel built up real quick like. With this being the busy season and Ironman this weekend the bike shops are going to laugh at my "how fast can you..". I know a few people who actually know things about bikes who might be able to help me out if things don't work out. Plan "C" is to put a 16t freewheel on the Bianchi wheel and use it on the Ibis.
I did think about using the Bianchi fixed gear for the dbl century but I did not like the idea of no bottle cages forcing all of the water onto my back during what will probably be 80+ degree temps. A bicycle angel bestowed upon me an On-One Midge Bar for the fixie. The track bars that were on the bike are the opposite of ergonomic which started bothering me when using the bike for 100 milers. The midge bar wrapped with some cushy specialized bar tape makes for a comfy ride. It has gotten me thinking about using the bar on the GDR bike build. The wide flared drops though not very aero provides a low position without much strain on the back.
As far as my goals for the 200 miler, I am not concerned with my speed much, you really can't be with one gear after all. I am instead going to focus on reducing non-moving time. If I keep moving I should be fine. I have had some good people helping me out lately and I would like to live up to their expectations for a good ride.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ketchup Day

AS I follow this year's GDR I am keeping track of lessons being learned by this year's riders. In the attempt to keep things light it is easy to forget the rule of the mountains, be prepared for everything. All of the rider's have been drenched by thunderstorms and many of them met a snowstorm at elevation. Staying dry may not be an option but staying warm is a requirement. I remember a Summer vacation to Yellowstone when the high temperature was barely above freezing. Montana can be unforgiving.
I skipped the long ride today and instead made up some spoke cards for the midnight century ride. I may be doing the 200 mile Tour of Pain after all so I spent some time doing a rare bit of maintenance on my Ibis. I gave the Hakkalugi it's annual cleaning, switched the chain tensioner from up spring to down spring, installed a new rear tire on, put some leather treatment on the Brooks Saddle. The bike still has the 17 tooth freewheel on and if I am going to get through the double century than I will have to get that changed to a 16t.
The weather is heating up again so I want to get some long night rides in. Perhaps I will pre-ride the Tour of Pain route as an overnighter, that could be a good plan on Saturday night.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The 2007 Great Divide Race Begins

As I am writing this, the racers are nervously chatting about the weeks ahead. No doubt they are making frequent trips in and out of the Last Chance Tavern and checking their bikes and bags for the one hundredth time. The jovial sense of community will continue as they make their way down the long asphalt lead up to the dirt roads and mountains. Most races, tend to settle into the groove within minutes of the start but this race is different. It will take days to get into the rhythm of riding, eating, navigating, shopping, getting water, sleeping and repeating the basic elements of this death march they have interrupted their lives to participate in. In the coming days the race will educate the veterans and newbies alike. The endless planning to account for hundreds of scenarios will be forgotten because it is always the unexpected that happens. Reacting quickly and with a calm head will be more valuable than the equipment the racers carry with them. Remaining focused and fighting depression after navigational errors add mileage to the already long days total can be the difference between quitting and finishing.
It is easy to pursue unbearable hardship when you feel the awe and disbelief of people who shake their heads at your willingness to conquer the seemingly impossible. Hundreds of miles from anyone who could be impressed with your adventure, lost deep in your thoughts that refuse to stray from the pain and fatigue that grows with each pedal stroke, the racer is his only spectator and his only adversary.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Race Across America 2007

RAAM is up and running. RAAM has always done a better than average job of creating coverage for an event with so few participants. I remember watching the Wide World OF Sports coverage as a kid and in recent years I have followed the GPS tracking of the racers at the RAAM website. This year they have created a YouTube page and are producing short daily reports that are surprisingly well produced considering the difficulty of trying to cover a sporting event that gets stretched out over hundreds of miles of roadway.
Ira Ryan of Portland made a single speed road bike for John Spurgeon's one geared RAAM attempt. This video report has a short talk with John and a shot of his orange ss beauty.
Also check out this pitcure of John on the bike. It appears the midwest rain has inspired a Kent Peterson style rear fender.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CDA NF Metric Century

Click on the picture to see how horrowing the trail is down Hells Canyon and how bald my rear tire is (and no it is not supposed to be a semi slick tire)

Yesterday I went out to the CDA national forest to plug away at routing a 100 mile course. This is the first time I have been back since all of the snow has been gone. I started and finished at DOMA coffee in downtown CDA. The 2200 foot climb up the pavement to Fernan Saddle was a bit boring but the trail over Burnt Cabin Summit made up for it. I checked out Spade Mountain Lookout. It is sad to see an old fire lookout in such shambles. Vandalism has made the building an eyesore and a potential danger.
In designing this course I want it to be easily navigated, rideable yet challenging for even the most honch rider. I am making an effort to employ as much singletrack as possible but it can be difficult considering that in this area singletrack is mostly downhill specific. The singletrack trail off of Spade mountain falls into the downhill only category as well as the aptly named Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon drops from 4200 feet to 2600 in about four miles. The trail starts off steep with roots and rocks and then mellows out for the last half. Stream crossings and dense old growth forest make it the most impressive ride in the area. I would really like to strap a camera on a rider who can clean the whole descent. If I had a camera on me yesterday it would have looked more like Blair Witch Trail than anything else. This kind of riding is not my thing but I recognize that this section of trail has to be in the 100 mile course.
The climb back up on a gradual forest service road was surprisingly zippy. I was able to ride 11 to 12 mph for the length of the 6 mile climb.
Working my way through West Canfield Butte was a bit tricky because I ended up on some dead ends that annoyed me. Eventually I got tired of back tracking and walked down a section of the hill to reunite with my route.
Altogether I rode for 6 hours and got in just over 60 miles. The climbing was ridiculous with something like 8000 feet including the two 2000 ft. grinders. I have the next extension of this route figured out but may have to wait to try it. My bike is making the worst noises I have ever heard from a drive train. I washed the mud off off of my bike just to look for cracks around the Bottom Bracket. At the very least my BB is toast but I know that distressful noises are coming from other locations as well.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bag of Stuff

Super grab bag of stuff indeed. First up there is something being called the Northwest singlespeed championships. I am more interested in the new Urban Assault Race thing happening. I was asked the other day if I was going to resurrect the Unlicensed Bicycle Racing series again. I have decided if anyone is interested in that kind of thing I will throw a custom made to order race anytime for them, their friends and some dudes I know. You want to race? I'll race you. Dirt, Road, mini bikes. Take your pick. As for the Tour Of Pain I have decided that I need the $125 dollars more than I need a fleece vest. I would like to do the event just to support this kind of uphill rock rolling but I have a $6 million dollar bike build coming up and I am going to need that Benjamin for a gold plated Wipperman chain. The Race Across America is starting up. I will be glued to my monitor following the race even though Tinker is not racing this year. Who is there to root for? I talked to Marla Emde and she says Michael is still planning on doing RAAM next year. The GDR sounds like a gas but RAAM sounds like a true sufferfest. How do you enjoy that ride?
Here is a vid that came up on You Tube when I searched Spokane. I didn't realize that people had rollerblades but this is good comedy. Public intoxication and profanity comes free of charge. We need this guy to organize some bike races around here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Let The Fingers Do The Riding

Andreas Vogel is racing the GDR this year and he has shown his acumen for tedious tasks requiring massive endurance by google mapping the entire route. Now you can give your fingers a workout following the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route border to border. Of particular interest is the satellite overlay which hardly provides an indication of topography but does give a sense of the geography. The map was set up with the idea that it could be used to locate the position of the riders along the routes based on check-in information. I have not heard if anyone is going to take on the challenge of doing this but there will be both a blog updating the riders as well as a podcast relaying the voicemail check in's of the riders. More on that later.

Monday, June 4, 2007

New Training Theory

Finished up the weekend with a 55 mile road ride just to loosen things up from yesterday's climbing festival. Tomorrow morning I will goof around on the bike in the morning and then head out to the Columbia Plateau Trail for another quickie overnighter. The forecast for tomorrow night is 100% chance of rain with 21 mph gusts. I couldn't miss the chance to play around in those conditions.
I am beginning to formulate a new training concept that may be just what I need for GDR preparations. I like how my body has been responded to the recent combination of long rides in quick succession. I also like the benefits of shorter, high effort rides in the 2-3 hour range. I am starting to think the perfect combination would be 3 weeks of fast and furious riding followed by a week where I try and pack as much saddle time in as possible. Three weeks of 13-15 hours followed by a 30-35 hour week. I am on track to do about 28 hours this week if things go right. So far so good. During today's ride I learned that I should avoid pushing my heart rate too much amidst multiple days of long rides. One short hill sprint let me know how empty my legs are. I can keep turning the pedals over but they are operating like a hybrid car. Great for efficiency not performance. Makes me look forward to next week when I can get zippy again.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

S24O:4th of July/Fernan Saddle

Blue Creek Road Isn't Steep, But It Is Unrelenting

I loaded up the Ibis with pannier bags and went for an overnighter with the mission of climbing some hills. After getting off work I road out to CDA and up to the top of 4th of July pass. It was midnight by this time but I felt so good that I thought I might continue on to Kingston but when I got a flat I decided to sleep for a few hours and go from there. When I woke up the first thing I thought about was how I wished I had fixed the flat before going to sleep. I am a proponant of the wake and escape. In the morning I headed back down the pass and up Blue creek road to Fernan Saddle. Blue creek road is new to me and it was a doozy. The road is never steep and the gravel surface was in good shape most of the way but it seriously climbs for 11 miles. Gradual climbing forever. The extra luggage kept my pace around 8 mph but I never got tired just a little bored. After bombing down the pavement from Fernan saddle to CDA I got a quick bfast and headed home via the palouse highway.
I have been fiddling with my GPS to figure out why some of my elevation gain readings have been somewhat high and I feel confidant that the 145 mile roller coaster was in the 10,000ft range. Climbing up 4th of July (3200 at summit) and fernan saddle (5200 at the top) make for a big chuck of the climbing but even highway 27's 600 feet of climbing kept me to my pledge to suffer. All told, if the heat had not shot into the 90's by the time I got home I really would not have had much in the way of discomfort. It is a good sign but I must forge on and seek out that area outside of comfort where success and failure are balanced on the precipice of mental fortitude. To keep the climbing week going I am heading up to Mt Spokane with the Ibis tomorrow. I want to see how the legs recover from today's efforts.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Free Technology For Bikers

John Speare turned me on to Bikely but I think that may have them beat. After playing around with this little web app for a few minutes I feel like all of my complaints about the poorly designed mapping software I got for my GPS is even more appropriate. Considering mapmyride is free, it is both simple and packed with features. Google topo, real time elevation profile and even special icons for restrooms and water fountains. It is a shame that I came across this site at a time when I should be riding my bike not playing on the computer.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road Rides And New Knicks

The 200 mile road event is at the end of this month so I am shifting my focus a little. Did the 45 mile Cheney-Spangle loop on my way home from work last night. The legs feel quite refreshed from the recent rest they received during my trip to Portland. Saturday I am going to do another quickie overnighter, this time with the road bike. I think I will head out to the CDA national forest Saturday night (45-60 miles) and then try and get a 100 or so on the way back Sunday morning. The forecast for Sunday is 98 freakin' degrees so I want to be home by noon to avoid melting.
I picked up a couple of pairs of knickers while I was in Portland. Spokane bike shops do not carry much in the way of apparel and knickers have not reached the fad stage like they have everywhere else. Over the years my cycling wardrobe has evolved from Grammici climbing pants and shorts (in the beginning that company made a great product simple and durable) to Carhart shorts and even Pearl Izumi MicroSensor plastic shorts. The last two year I have been wearing a very lightweight pair of Sugoi knickers. They are beginning to fall apart so I began looking for it's successor.
I bought a pair of Rapha knicks and a pair from Chrome. The Chromes are heavier, bulkier but with a lot of stretch. The Rapha's are exceptionally well crafted and feel great but I suspect they will be hot (like the Chromes) when the weather heads above 80. The thinking with knickers for me is related to an earlier rant about not wanting to own any more shorts, tights or jackets without pockets. I need my pockets.
Both pairs of knickers were expensive but put into the context of the usage it doesn't hurt as much to think about it. $160 for a pair of pants? Unlike more fashionable people I will wear the pair of Raphas I have on now for five straight days. On weekends I will wear "normal" clothes unless I go on a ride and then I will put the knicks back on. I may wash them about twice a week, but it should be noted that I wear my chef pants at work which is a good part of my day. I will keep wearing the Rapha's until they completely fall apart, which due to the construction may be 5-6 years or more. These will be the only pair of pants I buy this year and probably next year as well. I hate shopping. The price is starting to sound like a bargain.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Overnight Quickie

Ben and I took off last night about 9pm after my shift and rode the Columbia Plateau Trail out to the Turnbull Wildlife refuge for a little overnighter. I wanted to be back home by 7am and figuring that sunrise is at 5am we rode for 2 hours and found a nice little patch of soft ground amidst a sea of basalt. The nearby cattle were providing a hilarious chorus for many hours and then the coyotes decided to show them how this signing business is done. Being surrounded by wetlands and waking in fog provided for a pretty damp sleeping bag and bivy by morning. I need to work out some strategies for drying out these items during the GDR. A down bag is starting to sound like a bad idea even though I know they have been successfully used in the past. Ben did not have a bivy or tent in Spokane so I brought my 15 year old megamid circus tent for him. He made himself right at home by surrounding himself with various knives and ninja stars. The ride back in this morning started cold and creaky but after an hour the muscles were all warmed up and we made better time in the morning than at night.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No More Hobbies

62 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing

Last night I opened a fortune cookie that could not have been more wrong. "Now is a good time to start a new hobby". While the restaurant is having it's third best week of sales ever and I am trying to get my bicycle training in and I am finishing the extension of my drip irrigation to the four corners of my yard and I am trying to write an article for CDA/SPO mag and I am trying to maintain my bicycles (three flats, one broken spoke, leaking shocks, broken pedal, loose bar end and worn brakes all in one week) and I am trying to get things in order before a trip to Portland this weekend; I decide to buy a GPS and some Topographical mapping software.
I love gadgets and like the challenge of learning how to use them but I was a little nervous about this latest piece of technology because it doesn't follow the logical menu/layout/keystroke patterns of any other piece of software I have used. After a long weekend of hacking away at both the GPS and the mapping software I can finally use it albeit I still have a couple of rather important functions I can't do (when freehanding a route I can't figure out why it won't let me erase mistakes when I follow the keystroke actions the manual suggests).
I have been using the software to help map out long routes in the CDA N.F..AS much as I want to justify the importance of this activity, in the face of all the other work that needs to get done I am forced to set it aside and keep to the tasks that have pressing deadlines.
All of this puts next year into perspective. I realize that at some point this Fall or Winter I will have to eliminate all responsibilities not related to feeding my family or preparing me for the Great Divide Race. I am going to learn to say No to things I want to do. For now I have to finish a some writing, weed the garden, Fix yet another flat, get a bike ride in and maybe there will be some time to dust off the guitar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Solitude Is Good For You

Ben Delaney posted a link to this article about the psychological need for solitude. I love the premise of this article and have been a proponent of solitude as therapy for a long time. I believe that at least once a year people should be alone in a wilderness setting for a day or more. The internet and cell phones have helped our fear of aloneness. I do not think that these high tech communication devices are the devil tools, but they make it easier to not seek out the solitude that used to come easily in small doses before the era of super connectivity took over the world. I believe that the more people experience quiet time the more they will see the value of it. I enjoy listening to my iPod during long road rides but find that even the disembodied voices of NPR podcasts get in the way of fully enjoying a ride through the mountains.
The notion of solitude is something that every GDR rider must honestly enjoy. I recall Kent Peterson's story of sharing some riding time with another racer during the GDR and despite the pleasantness of the conversation, once they parted ways he felt that things were back to normal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another One For The Calender

I was surprised the other day to see an ad for The Tour Of Pain, a new 200 mile road ride in the latest addition of Out There Monthly. Turns out that Gage down at the Steam Plant Grill is an enduro bike guy and is not only taking over where the Midsummer's Nightmare Double Century left off, he appears to be committed to putting on the swankiest bike event of the year. Even though the number of people this type of ride will appeal to is small he is going to have some serious schwag, full on route support, plus live bands and a beer garden afterwards (if you can stay awake long enough to down a pint of the CDA brew). Gage also has plans for a mtn bike 100 miler next year. I just hope that it doesn't come too close to the beginning or end of the GDR,