The Unbearable Lightness Of Getting Personal

I’ve been a busy boy lately and have not had a chance to pollute the internet with my every thought on life, cycling, and cycling for life.  Here’s a short synopsis on what has been going down:

The Stoker has officially signed on as stoker, and has been enjoying our rides. The Stoker even enjoyed our super hilly, yet super short, ride this past Sunday down in southern Iowa.  I enjoyed The Stoker’s mother’s vegan cooking. Everyone wins! I’ll have more Tandem Tails for you sometime…

My favorite realtor in the world found me the perfect house, my offer was accepted, I spent my weekend talking about said house and planning/shopping/contacting contractors about changes to be made.  I was not happy with how some of the deal was being handled by the selling party, so I am no longer going to buy said house. I will be staying in the EV for the time being, so that’s cool I guess.

I’ve lost about 40lbs on the “Eat Vegan, Drink Water, Be Merry” plan and it has shown in my cycling. My average speed is way up, but my endurance needs a lot of work. I suppose once I get over how cool it is to be able to ride faster again, I’ll kick it down a half a notch and ride the distances.  Fun.

I’ve set a readily achievable 100 mile per week goal for riding right now. I’m hoping as the months go along that I can start getting closer to the 170-225 range for training. I haven’t set an annual number because I’m way behind where I would like to be, and I really didn’t give two shits about recording miles for the first few months of the year. I’m sure it will all work out fine, as I’m actually able to enjoy my saddle time now instead of the extreme discomfort of trying to ride when my health was at its deepest valley.

I have some more writing to do about the switch to Vegan, especially for those of you who have commented or contacted me about wanting more information.

That’s about all the time I have for today. Thanks for reading!

Sam

CNB

 

The Good Intentions Tour

The Good Intentions Tour

Every year during Memorial Day weekend I have vowed to go ride my bike as far as I can, for as long as I can. This is a tour to push my spring limits, something to gauge what needs to be focused on for summer so that the fall gravel races are a little easier on the body than the early spring excursions.  It could be fully bagged out, it could be a dirt bagging trip, it could be a “credit card” tour with support and hotel rooms.  It could be anything, really, as long as there is a goal of at least 300 miles over the course of the four day weekend.

This is why it has earned the title of “The Good Intentions Tour”

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The fully loaded Ti Vaya, a formidable touring rig but not something to ride 100 miles a day in heavy rain storms. I will not be using this rig for 2017’s GIT

The Good Intentions Tour is just that. It’s a set of intentions (outlined in P1) that are more like a limit than an intention.  Last year I had decided that I was going to take an fifth day and ride a total of 400 miles.  What actually happened was I chose to take my loaded touring bike, I started a day late and rode into intermittent rain storms, at fried chicken, got stuck in a shelter at a city park waiting out a storm, made it to the Night Hawk in Slater, IA drinking with a team of woo girls that were woo-ing their minds out inside a sheet metal shed which houses the back bar at the establishment.  I rode north from Slater to Ames, IA, where I ended up in a hotel room as there were some very serious looking storm systems coming my way, then rode from Ames to middle-of-nowhere Collins, IA where I ran into BikeIowa.com founder Scott Sumpter randomly at a tiny bar, then rode to Cleverley Farms for the last historical Garlicpalooza.  At Larry’s farm we had a blast, but the next morning it was blazingly hot and humid and I made it to a convenience store in Bondurant, IA where I ended up calling a sag for my last 12 miles as I could not get my body to act right.  I don’t blame it, it had a reason to be hostile towards me.  Three Days, 99.4 miles. I couldn’t even bring myself to ride around the steamy block to get to an even 100. I was done.

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The fully loaded Ti Colossal, a killer self contained road-packing rig. I will be losing most of the bags and using this bad boy for GIT. At least I intend to. haha.

That is how it goes every year, first make a long list of good intentions, then say “fuck it” and just do whatever.  This year I will have a partner in Intentions crime, who has vowed to ride one of the four days with me (sounds like a proper good intention), and will then pilot Kira as my support in my quest to ride at least 300 miles.  I haven’t picked the bike yet, but I can tell you that it will not be my Vaya.  Day 1 or 2 will be on the Java, and since there is support involved this year I will probably just pack a very stripped down Colossal for the solo miles.  I can see this turning into a one day loop then a “tailwind tour” to wherever the time limit takes me.

No matter what happens, I am making my list of good intentions for this coming Memorial Day weekend.  I’m looking at routes, plotting miles, and looking at where I can stick a tandem loop in the middle of all of this, in addition to working in some #vanlife with Kira, and also putting together a bail plan for when I give up on my intentions and just want to go home to my lovely vegan kitchen to eat something other than road food.  That’s going to be the biggest challenge this year, spending 3-4 days on the road while still sticking to clean Vegan eating.  We shall see how that goes, or if anything goes at all.

Sam

CNB

Hashtag Cult Membership Time

I did something very uncharacteristic of me today.  I obtained a motorized vehicle.  It’s very foreign to think of doing things that don’t require turning pedals, but after ridding myself of the “Deal Mobile” last week, and seeing as the venerable Gold Jetta Wagon (the Swagon) is all but sold, I thought that maybe I should start a new thing.  This thing I did gave me entry into a new-to-me hashtag subculture.  I already belong to a few of these groups (#vegancylist #cheflife #veganhashtagabuser #rifftober #rigsofdoom, the also-new-to-me #gravelfamily that I learned is now a thing as of this weekend, and many others), but this is one that I had never aspired to. I purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter today…

Enter the #VanLife

IMG_6029#VanLife is this thing where you live your life in, by, and for the Van. You buy a Van, you convert the van to a suitable mobile living quarters, then you go do shit in it.  You go camp, you drive to other places and meet new people, bike unfamiliar areas, explore.  You can save a ton on hotel rooms if you have either good enough facilities or can just make do with what you have brought with you.  As a bit of a cycling vagabond/traveller (and a person who has spent a little too much on air fare and hotel rooms the last few years) this has appealed to me since the day my friends Fresh Tank decided to ditch their living situation and travel the country living the #vanlife. It looks like they have been having fun.

 I had been dead set on a high top Sprinter, but the previous owners, Alex and Hanna, IMG_6028had done a lot of the conversion work like insulate and run power to the back area already, which made this a great base for what I was planning. Alex included a few cabinets he had made for their buildout, along with some helpful tips on the idiosyncrasies of this ole gal. She has some patina, and some quirks, but The Stoker and I are pretty stoked to have something that can accommodate bikes up to and including the Java Tandem, with some basic amenities for the trip to wherever that tandem is getting pedaled from.

Her name is Kira, after current day explorer Kira Salak, who has travelled solo to almost every continent.  My Kira will probably not leave this continent while under I captain her, but I do have some pretty major plans for her. I mean, one does not simply enter the realm of #vanlife without an adventure in their hearts and minds.  What’s my plan? Aside from making grocery runs for the restaurants and maybe doing some catering, you’re going to have to stay tuned to see what my #vanlife has in store.  I promise you it will be a journey into some unknown territory…

Sam

CNB

Trans Iowa 13: Soggy Bottoms

I am not on Trans Iowa today, dropped out for non-weather related reasons, but part of me wishes I was out there getting wet and cold and smiling through it with those that are still on course. Good Speed to those still out there slogging away towards CP2, and great job to those that toed the line but made the choice to pull the plug before things went really bad for them. It’s very tough mentally to know when to say when, as part of you will always want to drive on, but you have to shut that side up when it comes to safety. I’ve seen friends go well past when they should have stopped, and it hurt them (nerve damage, hypothermia, etc). It’s no joke. Dropping out isn’t a dishonorable thing, especially when you are slated to ride 300 miles of gravel.

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My Salsa Vaya on Trans Iowa 8

Riders should start rolling into CP2 sometime tonight, then it’s on to the finish line in Grinnell. What a crazy, shitty day to be having fun on bikes. I am speculating that there will be very few people to make CP2 and even fewer finishers.  There were 48 racers left after CP1, and as of 1:30 pm all 48 were still around, but the field is coming to a point where the tail winds will be turning into head winds for the rest of the race.  That, the rain, the muck, the cold, and the hills will be kicking the field’s ass even more.

Dan Hughes and Greg Gleason are in the lead as of this writing, and they have been maintaining a 15mph average (?!?!?!) in this weather.  There are another three who have fallen back from the original leaders group, but are chasing. That group is evidently stopping for some dinner in (town redacted).

Thanks to some approved inside info, I will be seeing you at CP2!

Sam

CNB

First Milestone Reached!

Less than two months ago I was in horrible condition.  I was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, I was eating like an asshole, I just didn’t give a hoot about what shape I was in.  I would just complain about how I was fat and didn’t feel good after eating, and inside I could feel that there were more things going wrong than right.  I decided to make a change, to begin a new journey to a place where I felt well, where I didn’t have to think things like “if only I lost some weight maybe I would be faster.” I was so beyond having to worry about how fast I was on a bike.  I would get out of breath trying to buckle my Sidi’s. You can read all about that here.

 

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These bikes have been getting me to and from where I need to go, while providing a pretty solid workout. All grocery shopping, errands, and even playing a show, have been done by bike in the last few months. 

 

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I’m happy to report that thanks to my Vegan eating, and to switching back to living almost entirely by bike, I have gone from over 300 lbs (it has been estimated that I was around 315 when I first started this change), to under 280 since the first week of March.  That’s over 30 lbs of weight gone from my body, the equivalent of losing an entire loaded gravel rig.  I’ve gone down about 3 inches in waist size, and I can finally zip my old rain jacket up. My energy level/attitude/motivation is way up, and I feel like life isn’t just a constant suck hole of feeling like shit with an added shitty attitude.  It’s refreshing.

 

There is still a long way to go, I have some pretty big goals ahead.  There are things I have always wanted to do and I’m headed in the direction of realizing some of my cycling daydreams.  Time and perseverance will tell, but I have confidence enough to at least embark on the journey towards these goals.

What are these goals I speak of?  My main goal is 225 lbs. That’s roughly 90 lbs of loss, which could be tough to reach as I am training and gaining back muscle mass. If my training goals and weight goals meet up together, I will be a pretty lean mean machine. But for now I will  celebrate my first milestone (with a salad), and focus on making it to the top of this climb. Maybe a few of you out there would like to join in?

Sam

CNB

Trans Iowa 13: The Soggy Bottom Toys

TransIowa is nothing to sneeze at.  It’s a huge undertaking from planning and preparation to execution, for the riders, volunteers, and especially for race co-founder and director/mastermind Guitar Ted.  Some years it pays off in some great finishes, some years there are no finishers, but it’s a great gathering of like minded individuals who work tirelessly to take part in this humongous event.  I’ve toed the line twice, and have not finished yet. This year I am on the roster, but will not be starting.  Life has gotten in the way and I need to be in Des Moines during this weekend, so after talking extensively about TI on the JustGoBike podcast I regrettably had to make the call to Guitar Ted.

I will not be riding in TIV13

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This would have been my TIV13 Rig

 

I know, it is the exact rig from CIRREM 9. I mean, it was kind of overkill for a metric century during daylight. It has Whiskey & Carbon wheels, Son28 thru axle generator hub, the wonderful K-Lite system, Garmin E-trex 35t, and currently a Selle Anatomica saddle.  The Clement MSO 40’s are back for one more run, even after I have sworn off them. I had a brand new set sitting in my shop, so why not shred them as a sacrifice to the gravel gods?  I already know what to expect, so I won’t hit any curbs, and I have packed two patch kits and two tire boots. That’s some trust, right there. I can’t wait to start testing out new tires…hint hint hint.  I’ve opted out of frame bags on the Bird, and instead I’m wearing an older model of the Camelbak Octane XCT 100l on my back, leaving the frame open for those over the shoulder bike portage moments that will happen often this weekend. It’s already 40 and a raining, sloppy mess.  I know what that translates to on the gravel.  A bunch of crap, mud scraping, and carrying your bike. I think this may be the year to go single speed if you have it in you, as TI has destroyed a LOT of drivetrains when the weather has been similar in the past.

Brian and I had talked* about tackling events like TI as a Vegan, and I let the some nutrition secrets out (you will have to listen to the podcast for that).  I have a ton of Almond Butter packets and fake jerky, Scratch Labs hydration packets (to be used in the Braap Sabbath bottles), a couple hummus wraps, so that’s covered. Rain gear that would normally be in a frame bag well…that would probably have to be worn all weekend so no need for the extra storage.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’m not toeing the line. I will be working. I’m not happy about it, because for some reason I would like nothing more than to be out in 40 degree rains attempting to ride bikes for 330 miles.

Safe travels and speedy finish to Coop, MG, Brett, Gleason, Sumpter, and all the other wild folk who are still in the mix for this weekend of biking “fun”

GO RIDE YOUR BIKE

Sam

CNB

*Upcoming Just Go Bike podcast episode will feature my rambling on various subjects and a huge confession about my dislike for sweets. Whoops, that’s out there now.

In Review: Clement Xplor MSO 40

I’ve burnt through some gravel tires in my time. LOTS of them. Back before “gravel tire” was a thing, we rode cyclocross tires. I fell in love with the Michelin Mud, a light, fast tire with minimal tread and a decent line of gripping knobs on the side. These tires were made for doing laps around a closed course for an hour, not for riding 10-12 hours straight on rock roads. They lasted accordingly, aka not very long at all. I caused many dead Muds, but man did they roll. I, along with many of my dirt riding compatriots, needed something that would last and not break the bank.

As time meandered on, companies started introducing more durable tires that were gravel specific like the Kenda Small Block 8, and Clement’s Xplor Series. Clement caught my eye. I started of with their smaller offerings, but soon the MSO 40 was in my sights. I got a pair. It was mildly life changing. Here was a voluminous tire that wasn’t TOO heavy, rolled fast, and felt supple on the dirt roads. It performed well on pavement. I felt that it looked pretty sexy. My first pair of these adorned my Salsa Fargo for training and ultimately riding Trans Iowa 10 (TIV10), I fell in love with their performance in the racing realm, and riding 40’s on a MTB allowed for zipping through muddy B-level roads with ease, giggling to myself as others were off to the side with their various “scrapin sticks” trying to get their wheels free of their muddy bonds.  Gotta love a little extra clearance, Clarence.

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POOR BIRDY

All was well through miles and miles of riding, then the MSO’s were transferred to another bike, my Warbird. The Bird was the new kid on the block, and took over the brunt of my mileage.  I finally got a flat. A flat that thwarted a perfectly good sunny century day at mile 35. Now, I will admit that checking my tire condition before riding is not really on my list. It should be, I keep a close watch on tire inflation (which is subject for another post for another day), but don’t think about inspecting the outer casing. Noted: will change this. I didn’t just flat, the casing of my tire either split or was cut. The tread was also just chewed up, all the way around, which lead me to believe is was more the tire than some errant object in the road which made cause for this pause. I was close to a town, so I booted the tire, got it rolling, stopped for lunch, then limped another 20 miles in to Des Moines to Rasmussen Bike Shop for a replacement. I was so burnt out that I just handed them the bike and said “go for it.”  They got me back on the road and disposed of the tire accordingly.

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POOR BIRDY PT 2

I rode the new rear tire for another 500 miles or so (not in a row) before encountering any more problems. I had another flat, this time a pinch flat that you can read about here, which I quickly fixed and got home for lunch.  A few days later I was on the Gent’s Race, you can read my race report here, having fought through some difficulties in the beginning I was well on my way to finishing with my team, and BOOM flat. Fixed it. We rode another mile or so, within 2 miles of the finish, and BOOOOOM a total blowout. Upon inspection, the kevlar bead and sidewall had separated. Race Over. Good Day.

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Mark Showing me the exposed Kevlar bead, AKA POOR BIRDY PT 3

I talked over the life of these tires with a good friend and team mate, who has a very keen knowledge of gravel tires. We came up with the hypothesis that the Clement MSO is not durable or reliable enough to be pulling long miles on gravel, at least not for someone my size (read:large).  He told me other people have had similar issues with these tires, and I’m not surprised. This is the only tire since I started riding “gravel specific” tires that have done such things. I’ve gone years and thousands of miles without flats. This all leads me to…

My final thoughts on the Clement Xplor MSO 40mm: Fast, Light-ish tire that is best suited for equally light-ish riders that ride low mileage, or for shorter circuit-style lapped gravel races that won’t leave you stranded out in the middle of nowhere. I absolutely would not used these again for any type of distance or “adventuring” as they are more volatile than most other gravel tires I’ve had the chance to ride.  In fact, they kind of remind me of the good old days of ripping through tire after tire on those Michelin Muds.

Sam, CNB