Steeper than it looks.

Solo Spinning

Even though I had plans for more riding (and fishing and bonfires) this weekend, the weather and lingering tiredness from my recent northwoods adventures conspired to leave me with just enough time and energy this weekend for a solo spin. After knocking off some chores on Saturday morning, I rolled out at a ridiculously late hour–nearly 11am.

The corn is high, the soybeans turning yellow, and much of the tobacco harvested. And there were dead snakes everywhere–or so it seemed. I spotted at least a dozen in the course of 50 miles of riding.

The wind rose throughout the ride, and while I caught a partial tailwind for one portion of the return trip, it mostly buffeted me from one side or another, if not head on. That’s what I get for not looking at the wind direction before I took off. And I got rained on, first lightly and then in a solid shower, for the last ten miles or so. Not too much later, the sun came out and lit up the clouds.

My body performed about as I expected–which is to say that I spent about half the ride not going very fast at all, averaging only 14.7mph on a route that I routinely ride at 17mph or more. Maybe I’ll just blame that on the bike, since I rode the Devil with a full rando bag instead of the ES (and didn’t even bother to swap in the lighter wheels).

Ox at rest.

Northwoods Adventures

For most of last week, I was on vacation in the northwoods of Wisconsin. The trip itself was centered around two days (Saturday and Sunday) of fat-biking (for the three of the five of us that rode them) on gravel, logging roads, single- and double-track, ATV trails, disused forest roads, game trails, and even a bit of pavement. Nate and I went north early to do a little more riding–but we also had time for fishing, fireworks, photography, target-shooting, fire-gazing, and tromping around in the woods.

I rode the Ox, and was damn glad that I did.

Here’s a basic rundown of what we did…

  • Day 1: pack, drive north, get cold and wet, get groceries, get colder and wetter, cut down a tree to reach the cabin, unpack, release two bears, shoot at targets, let off fireworks, drink beer.
  • Day 2: tromp through the woods, fish the flooded river, ride the fat-bikes in the Kimberly-Clark, eat chili and drink beer, bonfire by the river, fishing in the dark while the mist rose, more fireworks, night photography.
  • Day 3: reconnaissance of a creek crossing for Saturday’s ride, bushwacking, fishing the flooded creek, gear and food preparation for the weekend, fish fry with Nate’s parents in town, drive to Andy’s cabin, stopping for more flooded route recon.
  • Day 4: big breakfast, 75 miles of fat-biking from Andy’s cabin to Nate’s cabin, brats and beer and sweetcorn, more fireworks and night photography.
  • Day 5: bigger breakfast, 63 miles of fat-biking from Nate’s cabin to Andy’s cabin, first hot shower in days, massive burger and onion rings at Moose Jaw, more fireworks, falling asleep before I could even get my sleeping bag zipped up.
  • Day 6: short ride in the woods on the cabin property, packing up, driving home, lots of laundry and gear cleaning.

All in all, it was a great vacation wrapped around two of the best rides that I’ve ever done in one of my favorite places on earth. And I’m already poring over maps and satellite photos so that I can contribute to the route-making for next year.

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It’s that time again…time for Coffeeneuring

The Coffeeneuring Challenge–run by Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes–is once again upon us. I’ll be giving it another shot this year–my third–and perhaps goading my wife along for the ride. Expect a combination of regular coffee stops and “coffee without walls.”

Individual episodes will be documented on Instagram and tagged #coffeeneuring. I’ll write a wrap-up post here for submission.

This is why you pick up your CSA box at the coffee shop.

This is why you pick up your CSA box at the coffee shop.

You can also check out what I managed in previous years: 2012 and 2013.

A Fat-fun Weekend

What’s fat-fun, you ask? Take any kind of cycling that you normally do and add a fat-bike and perhaps a few cans of cold beer. That’s fat-fun.

On Saturday, I rode from Madison to Stewart Park in Mt. Horeb on the Military Ridge Trail. As it’s been warm here and extremely humid (above 90 percent), the idea was to ride to the park, swim at the beach, drink a couple of beers, and ride back. And that’s what we did, more or less.

All photos in the gallery above are by Nathan Vergin (check out his blog post for more photos from this ride).

Just as we made it to the beach after a brisk ride down the MRT and a stop for beer at Trollway Liquors in Mt. Horeb, the rains that had been threatening all morning made good. Between the humidity and the rain, swimming simply wasn’t necessary. So we waded, stood in the rain, drank beer, and talked all manner of bullshit.

We left just as the rain let up, engaged in a few fat-bike shenanigans (there was only a small amount of blood but lots of mud that needed washing off), and then made our way to the Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb for food and another beer. Just so you know: dirty, wet, and smelly gets you a table in the back corner (since they weren’t seating outside due to the rain). Also, the non-carpeted portions of their floor are like a skating rink when when wearing wet bike shoes. But the food hit the spot and the beer was good.

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Full of burger and sweet potato tots, we rolled toward home. The sun finally came out, and added real blazing heat to the humidity, which in turn called for a stop at the Riley Tap for a cold Spotted Cow in a frosted glass.

Lots of fat-fun, but tiring enough that I fell asleep on the couch after I’d showered and eaten.

On Sunday, we took things a little easier, riding a few laps of the eastside Ride the Drive, stopping each lap to sit under a big shady oak tree on hill facing the lake at Olbrich Park, lazing in the grass, drinking a beer, and taking photos of the riders as they rolled by.

Powderhorn 24

This past weekend, I rode the Powderhorn 24. This is the third time I’ve ridden this “community endurance event” in its four-year run. This year, instead of riding on a four-person relay team, we each decided to ride solo.

The 2014 rider t-shirt.

The 2014 rider t-shirt.

The weekend might be summed up thus: bikes, beer, tacos, humidity. More beers than laps, more laps than tacos, more humidity than anything else.

The decision to ride solo was definitely the right one. It allowed us to ride together, instead of having one person on the course and the other three hanging about in the bike-hobo camp that collects around the start finish–though we did our share of hanging out there too. And, it also allows for the freedom to choose when to ride (often, in 3-5 lap shifts), when to stop for a beer and a taco (even more often), and when to stop at bonus checkpoints (never).

It was so much fun, we’re already scheming for next year. Early preview: fat-bikes, an improved camp setup, and perhaps a couple more solo riders to join us.

The 18th

Yesterday was our 18th wedding anniversary. We went for a ramble about town that included brunch and a serious bloody mary, some relaxation by the lake, a fine cup of pour over, and perhaps a little too much sun.

We’d also wanted to fly our kite, but we seemed to have picked the one day in the last several months with no wind. Another time…


Testing, Testing…Cambium

Having grown tired of moving the too-small collection of Brooks B17 saddles amongst our too-large fleet of bicycles, I bought a Brooks Cambium (C17) to fill one of the gaps (and yes, there are several…).

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I mounted it on the Devil this weekend past and have been riding it now for a few days. Just initial impressions so far, but here are a couple of things I’ve noticed right off the bat:

  • Unlike the B17, the C17 does not require a seatpost with setback to get it in the right place (though I do have it all the way back on a zero-setback Thomson Elite)
  • The cloth cover is tougher than it appears, and dries very quickly.
  • It’s slightly narrower, slightly longer, and shaped differently than a B17. When mounted so that the bars are basically level with the saddle, my inner thighs will rub on a B17, but not with the C17.
  • The rivets look cool.

That’s about all I can say for now. I’ll write more after a few thousand miles and a couple of bike changes.