Really? Cyclocross?

Hey strangers, it has been a stretch since your interweb gateway doormat was soiled by an entry from yours truly. Well, at least something written about cycling, that is. Some of you may catch me at my regular, food related blog, and that’s very nice of you.

Thank you for your support.

Today marks a return to cycle-tensive writing and the end of my commuting-only riding problem.  It really stinks when you ride over a hundred miles a week, then realize there wasn’t one single mile of riding dedicated to just getting out there and feeling the breeze blow through your beard (or whatever other head-anchored hair apparatus you sport). I am not talking of the plight of the forever-training-roadie, but of the career commuting cyclist.  Between working, catering, lawn care, home upkeep, bike maintenance, and beer, the twice a week gravel ride and once a week bar run ride have gone by the wayside.  SHIT. This is why you haven’t seen any ride recaps here, which would go a little like this every day:

Got out of the shower today and donned my favorite fat-guy Mount Borah MTB jersey, place my beloved cell phone in a baggie, then placed the phone and baggie into my left jersey pocket.  I then looked at the heap of bikes that occupy what was probably used as a breakfast nook at some point before my arrival.  Hmmm….I chose _________ bike, checked the tire pressure and chain lube condition then the kitchen crapped me and my chosen steed out its back door and into the world. I hung a left at the end of the drive and rode Adams St. to the GWT, tood a right and started hammering towards Des Moines proper.  I encountered blah blah blah….

You get the idea.  This is every day of the week for the most part and once in a while there will be some highlights such as the day I was passed and dropped by a guy wearing a broken leg boot (in my defense, I was carrying a ton of catering items in my bags). And the day the old guy in knee high tube socks and dirty tennis shoes on a semi-nice Specialized road bike rode right past me (I sometimes get irritated upon hearing the classic “on your left”).  And all of the days I ran into friends at the lean-to on the way to work and had to stop for a beer (one of the reasons I leave early for work).  And the numerous times I tried to ford the waters of the flooded George Flagg Parkway (if you ever see a bearded man carrying a bike through knee-deep flood waters while laughing hysterically, that’s me).  And that time this guy on a carbon road bike invited me to climb up Park Avenue from the trail, even though I was riding a track bike and explained I wouldn’t really be able to keep up, so he just dropped me, not by much, but never just slowed down for two minutes for me to catch up and continue the conversation we were having.  Or that time I saw a racoon hanging out with a small deer.  Or the time I was helmet-buzzed by a hawk. Ok, so there are some interesting times, but they all end with me in clogs chopping shit on a cutting board (or eating tacos), and the ride itself is monotonous after the last 9 months.

You should get it by now.  I ride every day, but long for the days when riding my bicycle was for used for fun, long rides to uncharted-by-me territory and not strictly for the old in and out (of town).  So today I actually had a little free time and went for a sorely needed gravel ride.  32 miles of Prime Central Iowa Gravel and a nice brutal Level B road thrown in (twice) for some spice.  It was a great time, and solo gravel riding is very conducive to introspection.  Visions of different bar/brake lever/shifter setups on a few of my bikes, what mtb shoes to buy, and other similar shopping thoughts dance through my head, then passed and settled into planning.  Planning and plotting ways to free up my schedule for more fun rides.  Then it came to me, like in that movie Total Recall, a faint memory of a late night conversation with my good friend Bob hit me like a ton of bricks.  He is convinced that I should race Cyclocross this year, and shit yeah I am in.  What could be more fun than getting muddy, drinking beer, and possibly getting slapped in the face with a Summer Sausage while riding, running, and slogging your heart out?  I think I just heard a cowbell in the distance!

Watch out, Iowa Cyclocross, you just got yourself a new last-place Cat 5 finisher!

This is what I call TRAINING!

PHIGG 2 Ride Recap And Taco Time

Last Sunday was the riding of the official second installment of the Pink House Invitational Gravel Grinder. For those of you unable to be bothered to scroll down, the PHIGG is a Gravel FUN-ish ride from the Pink House (my residence) in Orelia to the Cumming Tap by way of some of Mid-Iowa’s most granular roads. The ride shoots for around 50 miles, although we have maxxxed out at about 24 so far (“Bagger Rules” apply, which means make-it-up-as-you-go). At the finish line of this little dandy of a grinder everyone is treated to a meal prepared by myself and Bob of the Cumming Tap.

Back to the ride…

About 10:30 there was a knock on the door. The first riders had arrived and I was only five bites deep into my bowl of Cheerios®! Two hoods were hanging on the front porch, Brian “Squirrel” Pottorff and “Quick” Rick Blackford. The ride turned drinky immediately, and I finally got to experience the brunch delicacy “Cheerios With Pabst.” A short skip down the timeline later, Bob Moural showed his shining face (it was really hot and everything had a bit of a shine to it), completing the official ride roster. Not a bad turn out for a 100 degree gravel ride on wet roads.
The four of us embarked on what would turn out to be quite an adventure which was meant to be a ride to The Rondevouz in Adel, IA then back to the Tap (I am pondering the creation of a new sport, “Adventure Drinking,” which would be regular Adventure Racing with the addition of beer. Kind of a fast moving endurance bagger party).
We spotted a big snapping turtle unwisely crossing the hot gravel road at about mile 2 which Rick and Bob decided to bunny hop-much to Mr. Turtles chagrin. Two miles later Blackford had enough of our slow moving shenanigans and dropped to head home. Ok, he actually thought the ride started earlier and had a tight time-constraint. Thank you for coming along, Rick.
Shortly after mile 5, my legs gave out. There have been many excuses thrown out there, but it was really just poor nutrition and lack of sleep. My bad. The slowed pace allowed for Pie-Crazed Brian to hunt for wild blackberries. Close to the Booneville turnoff we ran into the wonderful Terri, Brian’s wife, who was out doing her own gravel ride (major you-go-girl props) we had a nice social for a few minutes then parted ways with Terri…for the time being. We passed the turn for Booneville and headed down “half-pipe hill” towards Old Portland Road and our goal of Adel. At the top of the next hill, right next to the rooster/lamb barn, I picked up my first flat of the day. Yes. The FIRST. Flat got changed, then I made an important decision: Fשk Adel, we are going to Booneville.
The Booneville Waveland Tap sucked us in for a good time. Jerky, a few beers with good friends, a motorcyle poker-run, and the return of Terri (how many laps did you do that afternoon?) were some highlights of our stay. One of my favorite moments is the part of the movie where I asked our bartender if I could order some potato skins just to have her say “they don’t do those til night” and walk away. I watched my chance for nutrition crash and burn! Hilarious! After giving the Tap about $70 in business we all decided it was time to head towards Cumming and the Braised Pork Tacos and Jalapeno Corn that were waiting on our arrival. We grabbed some to-go’s and hit the road. The roads were still pretty saturated, not muddy, but soft and sandy, from the last two weeks’ rains and rode slow slow slow. Brian and Bob were way off the front around the time we made the turn onto Adams, or maybe I was just way off the rear. I picked up flat #2. Such bullshit! There was no riding on the rim in these conditions and I was out of tubes, so it was time for a walk. The guys saw me walking a short while later and turned back to help. We stopped at a farmer’s house to chill in the shade (the sun was brutal) and deal with this stinking flat tire. Moments later an older gentleman rolled up on a MTB. It was the man of the house, who was out getting a in few “around the block” miles. The guys chatted with him (I have forgotten his name) as I ate a pork chop and changed the tube. A few miles down the road we came to the turnoff for 30th street (mostly gravel road that connects Adams and G14) but decided to just hop the GWT to Cumming. I think we had all had enough at this point.
Upon our arrival at the Cumming Tap it was discovered that my lovely life-partner Julie had not dropped of the food that I had prepared and was still in Des Moines. Shit. This food thing was just not working out at all today. Brian decided it was time to get home, as I did shortly after. The tacos would have to wait until Tuesday.
Despite the technical and taco problems and extreme heat the ride was a success. Rolling down the back roads with friends is a great way to spend time. Thank you to Rick, Bob, Brian, and Terri for being part of the ride.

PHIGG will not be held in July as there are already enough cycling events going on. Hope to see more of you in August for PHIGG 3. It will be my birthday party, and you might want to be there!

There are pictures, but my phone insists they don’t exist. I will post some in an update as soon as I can.

Sam