Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2013 Almanzo Gentleman's Ride

The Gentleman's ride is the same 100 course as the Almanzo, just more "gentlemanly".  Billed as a large group ride we intended to ride it as advertised.  My team consisted of Rosane, Pieper, and Sam F(a former coworker who now lives in St Cloud), and yours truly.

 Sam F

The start was cold and windy, temps were probably in the high 30's. There were several familiar faces at the start.  Had a chance to chat with Mark Skarpohl, a former teammate and long time road stud here in MN.  We rolled out and Pieper was soon in trouble stopping to throw up within the first ten miles.  The theme would continue for him all day.  Some kind of bug that is apparently going around. 

We made it to Preston in pretty good time and fueled up for the next leg. The climb out of Preston and the never ending wind made the going tough.  Pieper continued to feel under the weather but bravely chose to march on.  There were several climbs that I did not remember.  It was a different than the 90deg+ day in May.  

Top of Jay Rd climb:

We pushed on and stopped to refill at our drop spot.  A bit later we stopped again at the Almanzo tent and were able to chat with Almanzo himself. (+ me with a mouthful of cookies)

Mile 75 saw us hit the busy city of Cherry Grove.  After 6.5 hours the wheels on the Pieper bus fell off.  He hands down won the hardman award of the day.  After making sure he had adequate provisions,  we developed a plan of riding back on the gravel/road the 15 miles to Spring Valley. We would then come back for him(this was a gentleman's ride after all).  The wind had picked up and was in our face all the way to SV.  I was short of breath most of the way back, partly due to trading monster pulls with Sam F and partly from laughing at Rosane.  We agreed to ride into town in the "missing man" formation and give our fallen comrade the honorary town sign sprint.

It was unfortunate that one of us fell ill, but I still had a great time riding (I hope the others did as well).  Thanks to my team for a good ride.  Congrats to Pieper for toughing it out as long as he did.  I would have turned back right away.

Sunday we went to Eau Claire to see some good friends.  Z-Flo did a kid's tri.  A good time was had by all.


Later this week I will have a guest poster.  A-No will share his ride report from the weekend.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Divide and Conquer

Three generations of Novak's riding this weekend.

The Novak crew is dividing forces this weekend.  I am going to ride the Almanzo Gentleman's ride with some friends/coworkers.
The generations on either side of me (Andrew and my Dad) will be doing the St John's Classic down in Mason City.  Good luck to them.

Looks to be a bit chilly at the start, but warming up nicely.  Plans on Sunday to visit some friends in Eau Claire.  There is a kid's tri that Zoei may enter.  Twins and Mom will be cheerleaders.



Not much riding this week.  Rode 4 hrs with Rosane/Peiper last weekend.  My bike was pretty beat up after the Conspiracy.  Garmin is still not working.

Have a good weekend.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gravel Conspiracy

(This post was written last week, but blogspot keeps locking my computer)

This past weekend I headed to the North Shore to ride the 3 day Gravel Conspiracy.  The ride started in Grand Marais on Friday afternoon with about a 50 mile ride to East Bearskin Lake.  Saturday's stage was 125miles to Ely, followed by a 115 mile ride back to Grand Marais on Sunday.

There were around 50? starters on Friday and I was able to see some old friends as well as make some new ones.  The ride started off pretty fast with a 24mph jaunt up hwy 61 for a half hour or so.  We then took a left and hit the gravel.  I popped off the group at this point and rode my own pace.  I was able to hook up with Robin Bennett of Benett's cycle in Mason City, Iowa as well as Frank from CyclovaXC for a while.  I eventually tagged on to another group with Tri and a few others and finished the stage.  At Bearskin Lake we stayed in the lodge via a late invite from JoshP.  Josh, Ted Loosen, Tri, Grelk, Wilson, and myself became roomates for the night.  A soak in the hot tub, grilling out (shortened by rain), and some interesting conversation followed before calling it a night.

Sat was overcast and rainy with temps in the 50's.  Started off my with new roomates until about mile 35.  Ted, Grelk and Drew rolled off the front just as I was rolling off the back.  Ted soon had a flat and we were all together again minus Drew, who was forging on ahead.  We picked up Robin and Aaron and had a lot of fun riding together. Just after mile 100 there was a mix up on the directions. GPS route was off and we spent some quality time riding/hiking though the bush.  We ended up in Ely at dusk.  A lengthy meal at the Ely Steakhouse and we found our gear and were in the hotel by 10pm.

Some pics:

One of the many cool roads we were on:


No riding pics of Drew/Grelk as I was trying too hard to keep up at that point!!

Day 3 started with a waffle at the hotel and then a slight delay getting going.  Tri and I ended up having an extra cup of coffee with new friend Casey Martin of Clear Lake, IA.  I look forward to riding with the Cleak Lake peeps in the future. 

The usual crew took off with the addition of Eddie Karow (see pic), a beast of a man riding a single speed.  We were in awe of his biceps and the choice of a single speed.  Word around the campfire is that he does not own a shirt with sleeves.  115 miles of beautiful weather, rolling gravel, and sketchy ATV trail.  My poor bike handling skills were showcased on the ATV trail.  My mtn biking bretheren were kind enough to wait for me, thanks guys.  A couple of large climbs around miles 70-90 tested our weary legs.  One of them was called Heartbreak Hill and we were again in awe of Eddie who was the first one at the top.  He celebrated his climb by whipping out his toothbrush and giving his choppers a good brushing.  I see a Colgate/Crest sponsorship in his future.  A quick tethter ball game broke out at a romote watering hole called the Trestle Inn.  The rest of the ride went quickly.  We caught a few early starters on the way back into town.  The last several miles were downhill and we covered them in a paceline at over 30mph.

It was a great weekend.  Thanks to Josh Stamper and all of the sponsors.  It was one of the cooler rides I have done.  Kind of like transiowa meets Ragbrai on the north shore.  I have to give a shout out to my roomates/riding partners, thanks for not dropping me and making me laugh.  Also to the people from my adopted home town, Clear Lake, IA.  Frank from CyclovaXC, and a few guys I rode with from from Grand Rapids--Coach, Kid, and Aaron (poopy pants).

I rode my Van Dessel CX Gin and Trombones with 32c tires.  The tires were too narrow, but no flats.  The 28T cog in the back was a bit steep, but with Eddie riding a 44x17 SS I will not complain.  No mechanicals, although I did lose 2 chainring bolts at some point.  There is a creaking in my BB that was not there before as well.  My Garmin started acting up (and I lost all of my data), but a quick phone call hopefully resolved everything.

Thanks for reading.  Next up is the Almanzo Gent's ride with some friends/coworkers.  Should be another good ride.