Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bang your head!

Winter is in full stride here at NSS HQ.  Well, it's kinda been in full stride around here since the October 4th blizzard Atlas made me an Urban Lumberjack™, but since the around the first weekend  of December, we've had real winter.  And for me, with real winter comes a chance to do some other things that interest me, like the chance to strap the board onto my feet and slide down a hill, otherwise known as snowboarding.

Terry Peak opened on the 7th of December this year on a weekend that had crazy below zero temperatures (I think the overnight low was somewhere around -15F) and that prevented me from partaking in the opening weekend.  I love snowboarding but not that much.  Those cold temps pushed me to the next weekend to get my first day of riding in.

I had big plans for last weekend.  Saturday was going to be my first day on the slopes, Sunday would bring the last cyclocross race of the year and a journey into the woods to get a Christmas tree.  Yeah, yeah I know, it's a bit late, but like I said, those cold temperatures weren't worth it.

Saturday morning came and I geared up and headed for Terry.  Getting there right around first chair, I was up the hill and sliding down in the first half of the 9:00 hour.  Somewhere in there I ran into Cleaver and we rode together the rest of the morning.  The snow was fabulous, riding with a friend was fun and the day was just about perfect.  As the noon hour approached, I knew I needed to call it a day soon so I could high-tail it back to RC to pick up the Boy from a birthday party.  Well, I needed to be there no later than 3:00, but that coupled with the fact my leg, you know the one injured from the famous Christmas tree incident of '11, was getting pretty fatigued.  Cleaver and I slid down the hill one last time to the bottom of Kussy and our waiting vehicles.

On the run, I maneuvered to avoid another skier and crashed, falling backwards and hitting the back of my helmeted head on the ground fairly substantially.  It rang my bell a bit, Cleaver came over to ask if I was OK.  Everything seemed in-check, so off we went.  I loaded up and headed home, or so I thought.

I got back to RC and headed over to the apartment complex where the birthday party was and to my luck, the mother of the birthday boy was taking out some garbage, so I followed her into the building, chatted with her at the door for a few minutes and the Boy and I headed for home.

Once at home, the Boy and I went down to the "family room" where I dozed off on the couch while he watched a little TV.  Hey Not-So-Seriuos Cyclist, this is a real damn boring account of your day you might be saying to yourself.  Well, that was all backstory to get you to this interesting part.

When I woke up about 20 minutes later, I was a bit disoriented.  Suddenly I remembered I had to get to the store to send an order but I was confused about what time or day it was.  As I started to really wake up, I realized I didn't remember much of my drive home.  Then I thought about picking the Boy up and found that I remembered seeing the mom outside, following her into the apartment and I remember standing there talking to her but I couldn't remember anything about what we discussed!  WTF?  From the point where I crashed and hit my head to the point where I woke up, there were big gaps in my memory.  And the biggest gap of all was yet to be discovered.

Sunday I got up and felt a tiny bit blurry but not horribly so, so we got our stuff together and headed to Spearfish for the last CX race, help JT get his blog going for the Black Hills Expedition,  and to get a tree on the way home.  My Lovely asked if it was a good idea to do a CX race after hitting my head on Saturday to which I replied, "As long as I don't crash and hit my head again everything should be OK."  In retrospect, that was fairly stupid and I can't really afford to lose anymore grey matter.
At least it wasn't the most expensive tree
we've ever had.

The CX race went off without a hitch, JT's blog was up and running and the tree was harvested and is up and decorated behind me now as I speak (type).  It wasn't until Monday morning when my Lovely said something to me that I realized I really hit my head hard.  She mentioned I had a beer with Cleaver afterwards, which I didn't remember.  A quick text to Cleaver about what the hell happened on Saturday was in order.

At this point Cleaver could have told me just about anything and I would have had to believe it.  But what he did tell me FREAKED me out.  He said after the wreck he asked if I was OK (which I vaguely remember) and I said yes.  We left the mountain and I went with him to Lewie's to have a beer, where I had two IPA's and while I was a bit quiet, I chimed in appropriately on the conversation he was having with another person, NONE OF WHICH I FUCKING REMEMBER!  Seriously, I have ZERO recollection of even pulling into Lewie's, much less having a beer, a conversation or leaving there.  I vaguely remember getting my gear off in the parking lot at Terry Peak and bits and pieces of the drive home, but none of Lewie's at all, which really pisses me off 'cause I love going to
Next time I SWEAR I'll remember.

Thankfully, I'm OK today (although I have a cold which is obviously unrelated but could have contributed to my fuzzy feeling on Sunday morning).  I'm realizing the common denominator here.  A CX race, snowboarding and a Christmas tree in the same weekend is a recipe for disaster for me.  Two years ago I did a CX race on Saturday and went snowboarding and tree hunting on Sunday and that netted me a torn quad.  This time it was snowboarding on Saturday and CX racing and tree hunting on Sunday that netted me a concussion.  You can bet that I've learned a lesson here.  Doing all 3 of those things in a weekend going to end in tragedy.  Now that I know that, I can prepare for it. Will it stop me from doing all 3 in one weekend in the future?  Probably not.  The next time you see me, if I'm standing there with a vapid look, drooling, just politely wipe that drool away for me.  At least I'm not limping.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roubaix, Roubaix, Roubaix!

In this case, the Dude does NOT abide.
This weekend, to quote the Dude, "Certain things have come to light." It seems that in Canada there is a bike shop called Cafe Roubaix. It appears that the Cafe Roubaix is a small shop located above an ice cream shop in a little town called Cochrane, Alberta, population 17,580.  This little shop has garnered the attention of one of the biggest bike brands in the world, Specialized Bicycles.

Now, little Cafe Roubaix has not caught the attention of this bike industry behemoth by selling more Specialized bikes than anyone. No, as a matter of fact Cafe Roubaix doesn't even sell Specialized bikes. So, why the hell did this little shop get the attention of the big red "S"? Well, it seems that Cafe Roubaix had the audacity to use the name "Roubaix" in their name.  Roubaix.  A name associated with one of the most grueling road bike races in the world, the Paris-Roubaix, held around Easter weekend since 1896 (117 years for those not mathematically inclined).  A name revered by cyclists the world over because of said race.  A name apparently trademarked by Specialized when they introduced their road bikes of the same name, which I guess is where the problem lies.
I'm guessing this shot was taken sometime before the
1974 creation of Specialized.

But is that where the problem lies?  I guess Specialized trademarked the name but does the town of Roubaix, France, established somewhere in the 9th century, which seems to be before the jackasses at the big red "S" laid claim to the name, sue Specialized for sullying the good name of their fair city by attaching it to their line of mediocre plastic bikes?  Nope.  Or, let's even move locally and look at the little Roubaix Lake here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which has been around since before me, which is before the 1974 creation of Specialized, which I'm assuming was before their trademark of the name Roubaix.

This kinda reminds me of when Cannondale trademarked the term "freeride" when that was a thing.  They sent cease and desist letters to Rocky Mountain (bikes) which forced them to make the satircal "Froriders".  How did that work out for C'Dale?  Does anyone even ride their bikes anymore, or does anyone use the term "freeride" anymore?
The Froriders laughing at the trademarked term Freerider.
Or, lets just get all the bike companies to sue anyone that uses one of their trademarked names.  Like Kona.  They should sue Hawaii, or any of those companies that sell Kona coffee, or even better since it is quasi-bike related they should sue the Kona Ironman.  How about Salsa?  They could sue Spearfish, SD for the use of that name. Even better, they could just sue anyone that uses the word Salsa!  Force everyone to start calling it Mexican Ketchup.  Hey Specialized, here are a few more for you.  How about every time Phil Liggit says "Ooh, he just hit the tarmac" you get him to pay you a royalty?  He says that about 100 times in the first week of the Tour de France alone.  How about anyone that puts on an Enduro race?  Sue the hell out of them too!  Maybe move to the prison system and give those guys cease and desist letters every time the carve a shiv out of a chicken bone to shank someone in the shower.  They'll have to come up with a different name than Shiv since you own that too.  Kinda ridiculous, no?

So Specialized, I understand protecting your brand but c'mon,  pressuring the people at Cafe Roubaix to change their name is a dick move. We get it, you're a big bully and nothing is going to stop you from world domination.  But just remember, while you may win this battle, you won't win the war.  Just ask Cannondale how that whole trademark thing worked out for them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One More Time?

See, this is how I operate. I don't even log into my page for like two months and now I'm pounding out three posts in one week. This will probably require a year off.

Anyhow, today is December 2nd so we only have 18'ish days officially left of autumn, but in reality it is winter. Or at least it should be, and tomorrow it will be with a forecast of 3 degrees for a low (no, I didn't forget a digit, it's gonna be 3) a high of 34 and a strong chance for snow. But for today, with temps in the 50's, there was on last ride to be had.  I cut out of work early just for the occasion!

I made a bee-line for HLMP in a light rain. I almost turned back as the sky was pretty dark and the
rain was a bit chilly but I knew it was now or possibly never again for 2013, at least on dirt. I kept pedaling.

When I got to HLMP I had the trails basically to myself and the little but of rain mixed nicely with the dirt at the park creating that familiar smell that any mountain biker, save for some of those in the desert southwest, can relate to.  That smell of dirt, detritus and other decomposing organic material that transports you mentally from our modern day lives of cities, cars, computers and smart phones and puts you in touch with our primitive roots.

Hearing the tires crunch on the trails, the click of the shifters, the whir of the chain, the creak of my bottom bracket (damn it, I need to do some maintenance on this bike) were a symphony that drowned out the cares of life.  I'm not trying to run from it, but a break from it once in a while makes you a more balanced person putting those things that stress you out into perspective.

Daylight and the looming weather front dictated that my ride would not be a long one, so I looped around the trails on the top of the mountain, taking in the views from the East and North out on the Great Plains, to the West and the foothills and to the South and the stunning sights of the Black Hills and Harney Peak.  I sped down the West side of the mountain, dropped into some newly cut trails on the South end of the park and pedaled home.

As I sit here and type this I'm still awash in a post ride bliss.  Riding a bike does your body good but riding trails does your mind even better.  If that was my last ride of the year, it ended on a high note, but I'm holding out hope that there is just one more.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The TDRSYCHAPOP Tradition Continues!

Take a look at the map of the US.  If you're not one of the many people that have a college degree but are still as smart as a bin of Play Doh, and since you're reading a blog (the fact that you're reading at all) it is probably safe to assume you are not one of those people, find the area known as Four Corners.  No, not the intersection of roads south of Sundance, WY for you western SD and eastern WY people, but the actual place where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet.  Now draw a line,  bisecting that mystical convergence of 4 states brought to you by lazy boundary makers, that runs east-west across the US.  If you live north of that line your chances of the weather being nice on Thanksgiving Day are sketchy at best.  This year we had a nice Thanksgiving.  Second year in a row.  Thanks Al Gore!

So, you're wondering what the hell does a map of the US and some weather talk have to do with a bike blog that is unreasonably intermittent?  Well, let me explain.  Get your Sherman and Mr. Peabody on and lets jump into the Way Back Machine and go back 16 years and 1 day...

It all started on November 27, 1997 which happened to be Thanksgiving Day.  It was the Princess,  Cleaver, Al and myself (and probably some other people that my foggy memory can't retrieve from the hard drive) doing a mountain bike ride on the now defunct Pigmore trail with a loop onto the Centennial for good measure (oh how I miss that trail).  Here we are 16+ years later and I still think about how much fun that ride was and little did we know at the time the Thanksgiving Day Ride So You Can Have Another Piece Of Pie was born and carried on with as much regularity as this blog.

Life drastically changed for me shortly thereafter, moving us to Colorado.  I tried to carry on the Thanksgiving Day ride tradition with as much success as can be expected living north of that line mentioned earlier, but no where near the amount of fun as that first ride, especially since many of them were solo affairs.  But let's not rehash the distant past, but let's talk about the recent past, like Thanksgiving 2013!

Scoping out the weather forecast last weekend, it looked like Thanksgiving was going to be a nice enough day to let the TDRSYCHAPOP tradition carry on.  Last year we rode HLMP and we could do that if necessary, but I thought Bulldog would be a nice halfway point for the Spearfish crew and anyone else from Rapid to converge, so I did a little recon on Monday afternoon.  Bulldog was in PRIME shape and ready for a Turkey Day ride!

After sending out the Rambler signal via e-mail and top secret message service, it was set for 8:28 am (a JT inspired start time) with everyone encouraged to bring an adult beverage to share and I'd bring some bacon to share on the trail.  RSVP's were flooding in and it was shaping up to be a grand ride!

Above the fog.
I awoke to a foggy and a bit cold (22 degrees) Thanksgiving morning.  Not quite the weather promised, but rideable none the less.  I headed out early to hit the trail and get a few bonus miles in before the rest of the crew assembled.  I hit the trail in patchy fog and finger numbing temperatures, hoping that the fog would burn off and as I warmed up my fingers would too.  I was right on both accounts!  I summited Bulldog and dropped back down to hook up with the group to ride back to the top.

When 17 riders converged at the summit, we basked in the sunshine, temperatures that were about 15 degrees warmer than the valley below (thank you air inversions) and the fog didn't matter as we were well above it.  Bacon was shared, some beers were cracked, a bottle of blackberry schnapps was passed around to those of us that were of age, bullshitting commenced with a smattering of high and low fives, fist bumps and bro-hugs thrown in for good measure.
Bacon and Beverages...

As we jumped on our bikes for the awesome descent back down Bulldog, I realized that two powerful cups of coffee and one piece of bacon was decidedly NOT enough to counteract the effects of two big gulps of blackberry schnapps!  Slightly buzzed, we bombed back down the mountain.  Maybe not my fastest descent of Bulldog ever, but it was still fun anyhow.

Back at the trailhead, more adult beverages were shared, this time courtesy of Cleaver doing his best Smokey and the Bandit rendition, dragging some super delicious Pennsylvania Troegs beer across 7 or so state lines the previous day.  Once again, bullshitting commenced with a delightful furor.  After a few beverages were consumed, and the lies started to wane, the party began to disperse, punctuated with many more bro-hugs.

So, the TDRSYCHAPOP was a rousing success this year, almost (but not quite) supplanting that first rendition all those years ago as the greatest one.  As long as Al Gore continues to perpetuate his global warming myth, those of us north of the sketchy weather line will continue to give thanks on two wheels, and just maybe have another piece of pie.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Once again it is time to give thanks.

I was told the other day, at one of our super fun FREE local CX races, that I have been slacking on my blog lately and basically I needed to get on it, so here I am, back in the saddle yet again.  (Thanks T-Man for the gentle round-house kick to the gut.)

A lot has transpired since my last post, with each event probably deserving of its own blog post, like the 2nd Black Hills Back 40 and how I had a WAY better race than last year, the 13th annual Dakota Five-O that was run backwards and I had way too many Crow Peak 5 Decade IPAs afterwards and was cut off by my lovely, our multiple times rescheduled Rambler Ride on the Mickelson that never went down, or winter storm Atlas that completely screwed up my yard, causing me to have to become some sort of Urban Lumberjack™ (I just trademarked that shit), hauling away 27 truckloads of trees in the process.  Yes, there are a lot of posts in just that, but since too much time has passed since then all you get of those is a long, rambling sentence.

No, the real reason for my post is it is that time of the year to give thanks.  You're seeing a lot of people doing the daily things they're thankful for on social media, but after a few days of I'm thankful for my spouse/kids/family, my house, my job, it starts slipping into the inane crap of I'm thankful for that cute barista that is 20 years younger than me that gives me my 1/2 caf, double foam latte everyday and is sweet to me and I if weren't married I'd ask her out.  (BTW, she's sweet to you 'cause she wants a tip, not because she thinks you're cute, you 40 year old perv.)
I can't wash the mud off as I think it is possibly holding stuff

So, I'll forgo the obvious stuff that I'm thankful for, like my family, job, etc. and get right to the one thing I'm truly thankful Northwave MTB shoes. My shoes that have sped past the end of their useful life much (like comet ISON hurtling toward the sun) and are begging me to put them out of their misery, and yet I'm still gonna use them for a bit longer.  I figure there is no point in buying a new pair of shoes just in time for the winter, spotty outdoor riding and indoor trainer torture sessions.
It's either ISON or my shoes
fleeing the scene...

Two years for any shoes seems like a long time, but when you add in the fact that they have a couple 100 mile mountain bike races, a couple of said Dakota Five-O's and a couple BH Back 40's, a number of trips down the Mickelson, two seasons of cyclocross races and daily commuting for the fair weather  months, coupled with the fact that I probably am pushing my bike uphill more than I should and walking in these shoes is not what they are intended for, well, you'll see that they have done more than their fair share.  Yes, decidedly more than their fair share.  I should have probably scrapped 'em a while back, like when I sewed them back together the second time, or maybe when I Shoe-Goo'ed the soles.

So, thank you Northwave for the shoes.  I'll probably get another pair of your shoes soon and hopefully they are up to the challenge of allowing me to abuse them like I've done with this pair, but I think this pair has just a few more rides in them.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Riding in the Sewer.

Most cyclists, especially mountain bikers, have places they dream about riding, yet it doesn't happen very often, or at least as often as we'd like. I've got two friends that lined up for the Colorado Trail Race this weekend (which is a whole different level of bat-shit crazy), taking them from Durango to Denver via the Colorado Trail (duh) and through some of the most picturesque places in the United States. Lucky bastards. And I meant lucky bastards in the respect of they are getting to go to Colorado to ride their bikes, NOT that they are doing the CTR.

And, while I DO get to go to places I dream about to ride (Fruita, Moab, Colorado, right here in the Black Hills, Curt Gowdy, etc.) I don't really want to go to the land of rolling prairie, corn fields and oppressively high humidity; Sioux Falls, and yet this is where I found myself this last weekend. Yep, that's right, I was in the cycling Mecca of Sewer Falls. Now, before you SF residents get all twisted up and start ranting and raving about there's this spot or that spot to ride, let me ask you, do you take a cycling "stay-cation" for the rad riding in SF? No? Didn't think so.

The reason for our journey east was two fold; we were going to visit my Lovely's father and wife, but more importantly we had to get the Boy, who had spent a week in N.E. SD with his Grammy.  So, being ever the optimist, I brought not just my road bike, but also mountain bikes for the Boy and I. The hope is to hit the one bastion sanity, the singletrack at Leader's Park. When life gives you lemons, squirt 'em in the eyes of your enemies, make lemonade, give a slice to a baby to make a funny face for a Youtube video or something like that.

On our first day we had to make a short journey north to my Lovely's old stomping grounds of Dell Rapids to meet my mother-in-law to pick up the Boy.  I thought I'd ride my road bike to meet all of them and catch a ride back in the car, which meant finding an interesting route that took me a bit further than the 25 or so miles it would normally be.

This is kind of a corny picture...
I rolled west of SF on 41st Street which after just a few rolling miles gives way to farm land.  Corn field, soy bean field, corn field, groomed yard with a couple silos, a barn and a farm house...corn field, soy bean field, corn field, groomed yard with a couple silos, a barn and farm house, this kept repeating basically my whole way.  As I mindlessly rolled through the farmland I couldn't help but think that this is America's backbone.  This is about as honest of a living that anyone can make, getting your hands dirty, working your ass off from sun up to sun down and feeding Sioux Falls, South Dakota, America and even the world.  Anyone that has had the whole corn/GMO/Ethanol discussion with me knows where I stand on that, but it doesn't change the work and effort that these farmers are putting into their land and crops.  I understand that we want a better life for our children and we (including many of these farmers) have paid for college for our/their kids with the thought that they don't want them to work like this (farming/ranching/getting your hands dirty/manual labor), but maybe doing this kind of work might just be what gets us back to our roots of what made this country great, to value work that every person does, to see that the farmer's work is just as important (if not more) as being a doctor or lawyer or being some famous douche bag on America's Got the Desperate Housewives of the Jersey Shore (that's a bad ass show by the way).  Being on a road bike in the heartland of America gives me WAY too much time to think...cue John Mellencamp's Small Town, fade to black...

Sooo, back to my ride, I rolled west for as far as I could on 41st Street (or whatever it is called once out of the city limits) until the road turned to gravel, then turned north to a pretty substantial headwind which I'd have to buck for 25 miles or so.  Just a bit of advice, if you're using a smart phone (iPhone in my case) with a Google Maps App, the bike route option will do its damnedest to keep you off of any highway it can, so in my case it kept trying to send me down any and every gravel road it could.  I wound my way through 50 miles of small towns and farm land and finally to Dell Rapids to find my wife and son waiting for me in a beautiful park along the Sioux River.

Our plan was to get up early Saturday to go ride the singletrack at Leaders Park.  As I lay in bed that morning, I heard a sound I couldn't quite comprehend.  You know how when you're in that state between sleep and awake when you hear a common sound and it doesn't register with you, you can't quite figure out what it is for a minute or two?  That was what was going on.  It sounded like really, really creaky floors, but as my brain came online, I realized it was raining out.  Shit.  It seems like it is perpetually damp at Leaders so any rain will make things unrideable, or at least not a good idea to screw the trails up by riding when wet.  This put our ride on hold for a day and took us to the Farmer's Market at Falls Park, which also lead us to do some scrambling on the rocks at the Falls, which is a must do for the Boy whenever we're in Sioux Falls.

The Boy saying, "Take me to your Leader(s)."
Repeat the Saturday plan on Sunday, which was a sunny day and the weather was not an issue.  The Boy and I rolled over to Leaders Park and hit the "Expert" loop.  A fun little loop of singletrack that winds up and down a ravine, through some tunnels of vegetation, over some man-made and natural features and across a couple bridges.  As we were in the open, exposed areas of the loop on the return, east side of the trail, the Boy was walking his bike down a steep hill, he was starting to get frustrated.  As I was talking to him about why he was getting frustrated, he said he wanted to ride it so I would be proud of him.  And even though I was being totally supportive the whole ride, I felt like a total dick.  After assuring him I was proud of him for just riding and it didn't matter if he rode a tough section or not, he was happy and we were riding again.  A couple miles later, we were done and we BOTH had a fun time.

Sioux Falls, while I won't choose to take a bike vacation with you, just know I'll be back again.  And know I'll be bringing my bikes and damn it, as much as I don't want to, I'll have a good time yet again.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Journey of a One Hundred Miles Begins with One Pedal Stroke...

One hundred miles.  The distance is enough that it is no longer a short jaunt in a car; it takes a bit of planning to drive 100 miles.  Do I have enough gas?  Should I get some road snacks?  So on and so forth.  Now take that 100 miles in a car and drive it on a gravel road.  Takes quite a bit longer, huh?  Maybe even a few hours.  Now, let's take it one step further and drive on unimproved Forest Service roads for 100 miles. It will take the better part of a day, and you just might be tired of driving by the end of the journey.

NOW, let's talk about 100 miles by bike.  100 miles, or the century ride, is a goal of a lot of cyclists.  Big event rides, charity rides, tours, etc. usually have 100 mile options for people to challenge themselves, usually attracting the riders that are more than the casual rider: they are enthusiasts or dedicated cyclists.  But far and away, the majority of those rides are on pavement.  Take the above example of driving 100 miles and let's ride the 100 miles on gravel.  Takes a fair amount longer and is a lot harder, huh?  Now, take it another couple steps and go onto rocky, steep, rough, tight singletrack (at least for part of it) and you have a 100-mile mountain bike race.

I used the driving analogy to make a point (obviously).  When I tell people that ride bikes very casually (think riding the bike path to get ice cream) I did a 100-mile mountain bike race (although what I did wasn't necessarily racing but more riding) I get a lot of "Oh, that sounds hard" with a condescending overtone or even the "I probably couldn't do it." Do ya think?  Now, I'm not saying that eventually with some training they couldn't do it, because if I can, they surely could, but the attitude seems like they could go do it today if they so chose.  Not that I want them to fawn over me, but just a "Are you fucking nuts?" would suffice.  Maybe I'm being too sensitive about it and maybe they just can't wrap their brains around riding a bike 100 miles anywhere, much less off road, but hopefully the analogy of driving a car 100 miles on pavement, then gravel roads then on FS roads will help them understand the difference between riding a road bike 100 miles on pavement and riding a mountain bike 100 miles on trails.

All that being said, the second running of the Tatanka 100 went down this past weekend:  102+ miles

The "Grand" Loop!
and 10,900+ feet of climbing over some of the most challenging terrain the Black Hills have to offer.  Taking the Centennial Trail (Trail 89) from just outside of Sturgis to Trail 40 near Pactola Reservoir, taking Trail 40 to through Silver City to the Peddlers Trail.  From there, taking the Mickelson to just outside of Lead, SD, then on FS and gravel roads through Galena and eventually back into Sturgis was the name of the game.  The weather turned out to be about as perfect as one could ever ask for at any bike race.  Warm but not too hot, a slight breeze, but not too windy, a few clouds to offer some breaks from the sun, but not too cloudy. Seeing a trend here?

The race went off on time and Jim Meyer of Quarq fame led the race wire to wire, coming in a few minutes before a singlespeeder (100 miles on a singlespeed is a whole other level of fucked up, crazy ass racing) and just over the 8 hour mark, 8:08 to be precise.  A touch over 8 minutes faster would have netted Mr. Meyer a super blingy Tatanka ring, which I suppose is a goal for him for next year.

As far as my race went, I was happy with the way my day turned out.  I met some personal goals and had a good time doing it and was in a good frame of mind all day long.

Up and down and up and down and up and down...
It felt like the race went out HARD.  Much faster than last year and I didn't get sucked into the pace, as I knew if I pushed too hard early, there'd be nothing in the tank for the end of the race.  This was a good plan for me as the race wore on, since I started passing people that were running out of juice.  I know I've said it before, but no matter where you're at in a race, the front of the pack or the back of the pack, there is racing to be had.  As I rolled into the various aid stations, there was another guy just rolling out, but as the race wore on, I was rolling into the aid stations closer and closer to him until we got to the Englewood aid station, where I rolled in just behind him.  I fueled up quickly and as he left, I told my Lovely that I had to chase him down, so I took off.  About a mile up the road, I caught up with him as he was pulled over taking a wiz.  I rode on, then I pulled over to do the same and he passed me back.  I was able to jump on my bike and catch back up with him.  We chatted for a bit, but as the grade of the road went up, I started to pull away from him.  Holy shit, I'm out-climbing someone?  That hasn't happened for over a decade.

Anyhow, he wasn't far behind me for quite a while, until the trail pointed down, where I put some distance between us.  I rolled into the final aid station at Galena, chatted with the volunteers and as I was prepping to leave, he rolled in.  Now I was being chased.  As I left, he was hustling to take off as well, so I knew he'd be breathing down my neck for the remainder of the race.  At the top of the last gravel climb of the race, I could see he was about 3 minutes behind, so I couldn't let up.  I BOMBED the rocky, gravel descent back into Sturgis, trying to increase my advantage.  Once I hit the bike path, I didn't see him anywhere, so I felt like I was safe, but I still pushed into the finish area.

The final stretch of the race took us through a concrete drainage "ditch" through the city that emptied right into the finish area.  The only low point of the race for me was in this ditch.  As I was hammering along I saw a tiny squirrel.  Hey squirrel, what are you doing in this ditch?  As I approached, it started freaking out running around, zig-zagging back and forth.  As I tried to avoid it, it shot back under my bike.  THUMP, THUMP.  I hit it squarely with not one but both tires.  That poor squirrel was toast.  I'm hoping that it isn't a black mark for my karma, since I did do my best to avoid it.

I crossed the finish line with a lot of daylight in the sky, taking about an hour and a half off of my time from last year, which was a nice change.  I suppose not having four flats and utilizing electrolytes to prevent cramps made a big difference in that outcome.

Once again, I had a great time at Tatanka.  As usual, it was a challenging, well-run affair.  I'm already looking forward to the 3rd running of the event!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gold Rush Gravel Grinder or more appropriately Peanut Butter Pounder

There is a tidal wave of gravel washing over the heartland of this vast country and the gravel grinder phenomenon is the tidal wave.  From races that have helped launch the wave, like the Dirty Kanza to the Trans-Iowa to the newest races like the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder , gravel racing is the thing right now.  The ability to see a lot of "unseen" scenery, to get off the road and the beaten path without having a lot of trails at your disposal, making it epic (although that word is way over used, it is apt in this case) and challenging are all part of the reasons why gravel grinders are on the rise.

This last weekend the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder went down.  Ever since Perry and Kristi Jewett (masterminds of the Dakota Five-O) announced they were putting on the GRGG on June 8th, it was on my mind.  As most, well all 10 of you that read this blog know I am giving the Tatanka 100 another shot, especially after having "guest blogger" duties on the website for a while.  Having the GRGG going down three weeks prior to the Tatanka made for a potentially good warm up.  BUT, with the previously mentioned moist weather, I have not been getting the kind of riding in that I wanted, so up until the last minute I was waffling on whether to do the GRGG or not.  Literally until the last minute, as I registered about 5 minutes before the registration closed.  That being said, there were two race options, a 70 miler and a 110 miler.  I was initially planning on the 110 miler and after not riding the way I wanted, I weighed the pros and cons and decided on the 70 miler instead.  Could I have finished the 110?  Sure.  Would I have been happy?  Not a chance.

We (the NSS family) loaded up the Pequod (our name for our long, white truck) for a weekend of camping in the Spearfish City Campground with a gravel grinder thrown in the middle.  Should be a perfect weekend.  Just outside of Spearfish we drove through a rainstorm that was more akin to dumping buckets of water from the sky than rain, which should have been a warning sign.

We got into the campground, got NSS mobile HQ set up, grilled a bit of nosh, chatted with friends and as the sun went down, we crawled into our tent and slipped off to sleep.

Sleep was interrupted at 2:30 am as I woke up to the sound of rain pelting the tent.  As I was lying there I was trying to comprehend what I was hearing, being a touch disoriented for a few moments.  Once I realized what I was hearing I thought to myself, "If it quits raining soon, it (riding bikes on gravel roads) will be OK."  I slipped back off to sleep.

At 3:30 I woke up to the sound of rain pelting the tent.  I thought to myself, "If it quits soon, it will be OK." Once again I was checking out the back side of my eyelids.
Kristi pointing out the water we'd be riding through later.

At 4:30 I woke up to the sound of rain pelting the tent.  "WHAT THE HELL?" I thought to myself.  "This is complete bullshit.  If this doesn't stop, like, right now I'm not gonna ride 70 miles on gravel/mud roads."  I tried to go back to sleep but now my mind was racing with details like I signed up for the race, I need to just do it...I didn't wanna slog around in muddy crap for that distance.  My mind was jumping back and forth, giving all the reasons I shouldn't do it with the counterpoint of why I should.

Finally about 5:15, I received a text from JT telling me to get my ass over to his camper as coffee was on.  I stumbled over for a cup of the black attitude adjuster.  As my mood lifted, so did the clouds and the rain stopped.  We checked the satellite on our phones and decided it was time to get ready to race!

While I won't give a lot of details of the actual race as I think that stuff is kinda boring, I will give an overview.  To start, we didn't have a set route until the morning of the race, getting cue sheets about an hour before the start.  And, these cue sheets said things like "4.7 miles, Turn Left onto FS Road 874" No maps, no markings on the course, no people telling you where to go.  A self-sufficient ride, having to find your own way.  Very cool.

Perry leading out the race.
The ride started on time and for the first 4+ miles we had a police escort and everyone rode as a group.  Once we hit the gravel roads, the racing started and we were off!  We rode west on rolling gravel roads and into Wyoming, where a large chunk of the actual riding took place.  We rode through the Ranch A area, an area that I hadn't been in since I was a kid.  I forgot how beautiful this area was, so it was nice to see it again.

At the 32 mile mark, the "short course" and the "long course" split, sending us short coursers up a two-track called Williams Gulch.  As we climbed, the ground got more and more muddy eventually getting to the point of not really being rideable.  The mud was not unlike peanut butter, causing us to have to push our bikes for a while.  Once out of this quagmire, we got onto a gravel road which was soft as well, although not that sticky muck like we just came through.  From here we continued to climb and climb and climb and then when we thought we were almost done, we had to climb some more to the summit of Cement
Potato Station on Cement Ridge, brought to you by the same
fine folks that bring you the infamous Bacon Station!
Ridge where we picked up our final cue sheet that would take us home.  Getting home meant a LOT of descending, down through the Roughlock Falls area then down through Spearfish Canyon, back into the campground to the finish line where post race food and drinks were waiting for us.

As some friends (who did the long course) finished we found ourselves gathering at another friend's campsite.  We sat around drinking some adult beverages, having an impromptu pot luck/BBQ and the kids running amok and finally settling down for a campfire and s'mores (smart...sugar the kids up just before bedtime).   

As I looked around at the great group of people we're friends with, some life long, some new, some in-between, kids of varying ages, but all having fun together, I thought about how lucky we all are to have great friends like these, that we have kids that have fun together, and how our love of the bike is a common thread that continues to bring us together at functions like this.  Some douche-bag said, "It's not about the bike," well I beg to differ.  The bike is what brings us together.  So it might not be about a bike, but it is about the bike and as long as it is, I'll continue to pound peanut butter, grind gravel or ride through hell to continue to have experiences like this.

(All photos taken from the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder FB page.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

But We Need the Moisture...

Working in a public place affords a person a lot of trivial chit-chat.  I guess it is human nature to be able to talk about something, anything, when there is another person around.  Thankfully, living in this blood Red State (and being a "tree hugging Atheist liberal" as the Princess has called me), it rarely ends up being political, so it ends up being something that everyone has in common, "did you watch American Idol last night?"  "Did you see the Superbowl?" "Can you believe this weather?"  "It's too bad you have to be inside ALL DAY on this gorgeous day!" (Thanks asshole.) The weather is the one thing that everyone has in common and we can do absolutely NOTHING about, which leads to a lot of comments and/or bitching about it.  Through most of this last winter, which was pretty damn dry, I'd hear something along the lines of "I love that there is no snow, but we need some moisture." Yes, my season pass to Terry Peak says we need some snow, fire danger and crop lands be damned.

Mushrooms.  Growing in my yard.  It might be a touch moist...
Then, the snowboarding season ends (myself and all the lovers of two wheels on dirt) and all hell breaks loose with three weeks in a row of blizzards with our fair city getting upwards of 44" of snow (as I may have whined about in an earlier post).  These snow storms wreaked havoc upon the city, closing schools and businesses down multiple days throughout the month.  And through the whole 3 week stretch I'm guessing I heard "...BUT, we need the moisture." at least 300 TIMES!  If ever there was a time when a person wanted to type OMG, this was it.  Holy shit, have an original thought/comment.  Personally, for me, we could have received that precipitation in the form of rain and I would have been just fine, or at least received it a month or two prior so I could have enjoyed it, you know, in some other fashion than shoveling my corner lot sidewalks and driveway off multiple times.  As a matter of fact, my disdain for the phrase "but we need the moisture" led me to spouting off (imagine that) on my Book of Faces page which led to some misunderstandings and some hurt feelings.  What the hell, people can't see the sarcasm in my typing?

The sun came out just after we (the Ramblers) rolled off on our annual MoFruitab trip, melting almost all the snow to open up trails and roads for two wheeled fun.  And after a brief weather respite, we ended up getting a bunch more precipitation in the form of rain.  A lot of it.  To the point where I'm wondering if I need to switch sports to something that involves water.
Me ripping up some singletrack last week...

All of this leads me to the conundrum of having dry trails to ride yet having the trails be in excellent condition.  Before we got all this snow and then rain, the trails on our urban singletrack at HLMP were so dry that there were sections of basically moon dust.  That coupled with the fact that the fire danger was astronomically high was leading to the fact our riding season might not have been very good at all.

So Mother Nature, if you're reading this blog and I know you do, if you can spread out the precipitation a little bit so we can ride the trails that would be nice.  If you can't I understand, I would love to be able to ride, but we need the moisture...

Saturday, May 25, 2013


As I mentioned the other day, I'm back in the saddle here at NSS HQ, or at least the roaming version of NSS HQ.  Since my LOOONG hiatus I've stepped squarely into 2009, ditched the dumb phone and upgraded to a phone that is a lot smarter than it, so I'm now blogging-on-the-go (so excuse the multitude of typos and the higher level of incoherent crap than normal).  Maybe at some point I'll get even more moder and realize blogs are for old people (which I guess I kinda am) or they are dead and I'll permanently shutter this whole thing up for good.  Meanwhile, I'll see what it's like typing on this tiny keyboard.

I had mixed emotions leaving NSS HQ on this particular weekend as it is the BHFTF (Black Hills Fat Tire Festival) and I've volunteered at it every year since our return to the Black Hills. Leaving meant no helping, obviously.

But all that was soothed when I was able to ride a favorite ride yesterday, Waterton Canyon. Super flowy, steep singletrack got me super pumped. So stoked in fact that I'm gonna go do it again the morning!  So, even though I wanted to be home for the BHFTF, this substitute will do just fine.

(I actually have some pictures, but the bloggy thing and the mobile thing don't play too well together, so I'll put 'em in later. I guess this phone isn't as smart as I thought. If Steve Jobs were still alive I'd tell him to suck it.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NSS v 3.0

To make up a quote that Gen. Douglas McArthur probably did't speak, "I have returned!"  I'm back (mostly) from my guest blogging duties over at the Tatanka 100 website  (click the linky thing to check out the website).  Guest blogging...who woulda thought.

I'm getting ready to take to the road and head to Colorado for my niece's graduation and thought, what the hell, let's slap some new words down in the NSS blog since I've not been here since Thanksgiving.  Why not?  That's totally my M.O., I should be doing something else, but instead I'm putting down some incoherent nonsense.

I think I need to get back on the bike...
It's good I'm heading to CO so I can ride my stupid bike.  After the snowiest April on record in our
A Rapid City resident from last week
fair city (which all came after Terry Peak closed, so no snowboarding either), we've now turned into ducks around here with a lot of rain in the last week or so.  I'm trying to get somewhat ready for the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder coming up in just over two weeks and then the Tatanka 100.  With cold rain and me being a fair weather pussy anymore, I'm not riding as much as I should or more importantly, want to.

So, I'll be back at the helm of NSS with some sort of irregularity, blessing you with my brand of bullshit.  I've had a lot of stuff go down in the last 6 months, so I have quite the backlog of crap to spew, which will probably mean I really have nothing to say.  And hopefully, I can pick up a guest-blogger as well to fill in some gaps for me.