Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kettles and COGs

Cale and I went to Kettle Moraine again last night. If we ever planned ahead, maybe other people could plan to go along as well. Oh well, there's a group ride forming on Saturday, so I won't have to put up with Cale alone then. Heh.

But anyhow, we got out there good and early, due to a short workday, so we did the Full Monty. The weather was perfect once we got going- not too hot, not too cold. It took me a while to warm up as I haven't been out since Saturday and all my parts were creaking in protest. My ribs are still a little sore and tense, and they were putting up a fight last night, especially when climbing and pulling on the bars. Eventually, though, I got going and started to really enjoy the wonderful conditions- perfect weather, very few mosquitos, tacky trails that were not too wet or dry.

The trails are looking mighty fine, and most have only improved with the traffic that's been on them. There is one gravelly hill that's gotten a lot looser that frustrated me, though. Since I was favoring my ribs (by not pulling on the bars), I wasn't staying far enough back over the wheel while in a standing climb, and I kept skidding out. I gave the ol' college try three times, though, so it wasn't for lack of trying. Next time, I bet.

I have noticed that I'm improving, though. I'm not hesitant to roll over most rocks and I've gotten a little faster through corners, though I'm still on the brakes more than I need to be. I'm still pretty slow at log obstacles, though, and kind of timid since one of them taught me a lesson on Saturday. (Next goal: practice bunny hopping). Overall, though, I'd say I'm getting more comfortable on the trails, and my goal of getting better at standing climbs is coming along nicely. When I think about it, I've become a lot stronger standing; I'm not as tired or sloppy, even when doing the Full Monty. Little pat on the back, there. I only hope I can keep on improving.

Oh Hai! Did I mention that I'm in the new issue of COG? This was taken during the Milwaukee Messenger Invitational 7. My boss spotted it and said I was "looking all George Michael if he were a female messenger". I was in a big hurry to get out of there (the photo studio was a checkpoint-the manifest is in my hand) but you wouldn't know it because I'm looking so damn suave. (Photos in photo taken at Shotwell Studio by Cate Hrobsky)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WEMS New Fane

Cale and I broke in our Duo team this weekend at the 12 Hours of (Not Enough) Gears. I was a little nervous to see how I would do- always before I had been on multiple person teams, had plenty of down time between laps and hadn't actually been racing. This was... I guess about what I had been expecting. I was tired but I pushed on (it was either that or cry about it), and we did pretty well for our first race.

What I was not expecting was a fantastic little crash in the first lap. I endo'ed over the second log pile because I was trying to make up ground and didn't see the f***er until it was too late to slow down. As I'm not good at the hopping skillz, my front wheel got a little hung up and I made it over the logs faster than my bike did. I landed on my left fist, chest, hip, then tapped my head on the ground and finally skidded to a stop, still clipped in to the left pedal even though my bike was pointed backwards (huh?). I got up quickly and got back on the bike, figuring if I could remount nothing was broken. Luckily there was a flat stretch so I assessed the damage as I got back up to speed. My hand and hip were ok, but when I landed it felt as though my ribs had been compressed a couple of inches by my weight coming down on them. I could feel them slowly returning to form. I hightailed it back to camp because, hey, there was no one to feel sorry for me out in the middle of the woods. I had to get back to camp, stat! I started stiffening up, but I kept stretching out a little bit while on the bike to keep everything limber.

After our first two laps, we started doing laps two at a time. As in, I did one, he did one, then I did two, he did two, I did two (etc)... We finished up the day with one apiece at around 6:15, I think. Around noon I was feeling like 'Hey, I'm tired but this isn't so bad. It's already noon!' Then the hours started dragging. By 3:00 I swore time was moving slower. That was the mental game- the physical game wasn't going too badly. When I was off the bike, I got pretty stiff in my torso from the crash. It hurt to laugh and move around because of my hip and my chest, but luckily while on the bike I could do everything as normal (i.e. with my usual mediocrity). Early on in the day I started feeling like I had gone out too fast and was going to have nothing left, but I began to figure out that wasn't the case.

Even though I was definitely slowing down in the afternoon, I got familiar with the trail and started to do some things much more efficiently. I also knew that I could go on biking for a long time while feeling tired. (Duh, right? But sometimes I get hung up on the idea that 'It's all down hill from here' and forget it takes a long time to reach the very bottom.) There were a few notable hills on the course, and toward the end of the day when I came to these hills, I would dig in and get up them. Sure I was tired and the hills weren't as easy, but I was happy to realize that it would be a long time before I had absolutely nothing left and could no longer make it up them. As it happened, I made it up all of them the entire day.

Speaking of, 'the entire day' ended a few hours early because were were firmly in 3rd place- a good amount ahead of 4th (another mixed duo) and a small but insurmountable amount (a full lap with 2 hrs to go) behind second place (two guys). By the time I did my last lap I was feeling good again- slow, but feeling good. I was even feeling like I could do another lap, but then again, I was also feeling like I could go and sit in a chair and put my feet up... you know what won. It was also nice to get to talk to Cale, who I hadn't seen all day! I hadn't thought about that aspect of doing a duo race. It's like they're not even there, because you never see them lounging around between laps like you do everyone else, and you don't get to discuss favorite parts of the course and close calls or wildlife sightings with them.

All in all, a good time. On Sunday I could hardly gather the strength to do anything, but luckily, there was no need to. I'm still recovering from my fall, but I'm fortunate that I didn't land a different way and wrench something out of place. It still hurts to sit up from laying down and my my chest feels like it got drop kicked, but I know all it needs is time and it'll get right again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Bikes

A brand new bike and another not so new. Last night Cale and I got done putting together a track bike for me. I got his old frame, seatpost, etc etc and put on my wheels, seat and bars. It's not flashy or anything, but I'm pretty fond of it and it's one of the only things getting me excited for track racing this year.

I've been viewing track as just a way to train for the mtb and cx seasons; more like vitamins you've got to take to grow strong instead of a fun activity. When the bike was in the stand and I spun the wheel and watched the cranks go 'round, I remembered how fun it was to fly along on the track (well, in my case it's not really flying... shall we say puttering along, instead?). Getting on the bike to check seat height and wrapping my hands in the drops reiterated it- I'm just a little excited to get out there next week.

Next up we have a truly sexy beast. I'll be riding this to victory (a girl can dream) tomorrow at New Fane. I've done quite a bit of riding on it so far, but no races. Previously I've raced my rigid single speed 29er and a borrowed full suspension from Preston. I'm really looking forward to racing this one bike, getting used to it and getting confident with it.

34x11-27 (nondescript)
Rock Shox Reba 29er fork w/ lockout
Truvativ Dose stem (I designed the graphics!)
SRAM X-0 rear derailleur
Fizik Vitesse saddle
Truvativ carbon bars and seat post
Truvativ Noir cranks
sweet ass Sun Ringle wheels (hand built by Russell- thanks again)
'affordable' (read: cheap) Zion steel frame
Juicy Ultimates
Planet Bike carbon bottle cages (I won, not purchased these)
an Ignitor and a CrossMark for tires (changed since the picture, and now tubeless)
Believe it or not, all of this weighs in at a smidge under 23 lbs.

So where was I... ah yes, getting familiar with this bike. I've enjoyed riding other bikes, but I'm not getting any younger and am looking forward to settling down and starting a career with the right bike, if ya know what I mean. Kidding aside, it's nice to have a custom build with everything I wanted: 1x9 29er with front suspension and all quality parts built to last. Thank goodness for my internship with SRAM, making such fine things more attainable for me. So far I haven't run into anything I can't climb (at least, it wasn't the bike's fault) with the gearing. The lockout on the fork has been really nice for climbs, and the gears are a nice change from SS in that aspect as well.

My hopes and dreams for this bike are to get really confident aboard it, and to ride it to a fine sheen: not broken down but well worn and well cared for. May it be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Went out and rode at Kettle Moraine last night with Cale. I was definitely not feeling it- a stiff and unwilling knee and a nauseous feeling for most of the ride. I also felt like I could lie down and go to sleep at any point in time. Cale's going to go over the bikes before this weekend's 12 hour race at New Fane, and I though maybe I could use a few parts replaced, too. Despite sounding like an awful time, it was alright. I don't think you can not have fun at Kettles.

But I was feeling bad, and on top of that, feeling sorry for my poor little self. I was lagging behind moping (what a terrible baby I am sometimes) when we got to The Tricky Hill. I'm not sure what loop it's on or anything, but it's the part where the trail turns but you can kind of keep going straight off the path to tackle this hill. I've always tried to get up it, but you really have to pick a good line and only recently had I made it all the way up. Of course, in my sorry state I was convinced I wouldn't make it up. So of course I didn't. I got caught on the last tree, got off my bike and prepared to storm off, even tossing out a 'F*** it!'. But even I knew what an irrational twit I was being, so I slowed and reconsidered it. I had to try it again, so I stomped off down the hill and had another go at it, this time making it by the skin of my teeth. After that little victory, I couldn't hardly be so mad.

Other than that, it was fairly uneventful. Cale managed to make a little cut in his sidewall which couldn't be patched with the sealant in the tubeless system, so we had to put a tube in. This would have been a non-event were it not for the mosquitos in hot pursuit of our sweet blood. They were everywhere! I had to ask myself what so many mosquitos were doing out in the middle of the woods. Had it been a mosquito booby trap that had slashed Cale's tire? I mean, these bloodsuckers in the middle of the woods, what do they do with the rest of their time? Or had they been following us? Whatever the case is, the woods are thick with them. Enjoy the trails- they're great right now- but beware the Wisconsin State Bird (har har).


Last week while riding some more hills in Mineral Point, in my depleted state I read the first line as a complete sentence. "Our hope is built on nothing" and I thought 'Well, yes, but how are they going to tie that in with a sermon?'

Friday, May 16, 2008


I'm at home this week in my ol' hometown of Mineral Point. I'm housesitting a beautiful house for an old boss of mine and taking care of her two cats and pomeranian dog (pics). I brought my work with me so I can keep trucking away on my laptop. This is the sort of ideal situation that freelancing makes possible. I brought both my mountain bike and Cale's cross bike (moonlighting as my road bike) to get a little training in. I'm planning on going out to Blue Mound state park this weekend for some gnarly singletrack, but until then I've been using hilly M.P. as my training grounds.

SOOOooo yesterday I did hill repeats. I went from the valley to Ridge Street, so named because it's on the top of the ridge that runs through town. I have no idea how many feet of climbing it was, but it was quality- a very sharp standing, off-the-saddle climb of two blocks, a seated block, a standing block and then 3 seated blocks that leveled out toward the top, for a little cool down. I'm very strong climbing when seated, but I get tired quickly when standing, so it's been a goal of mine to make my 'second set of legs' stronger. This hill was great because it worked both sets of muscles, one after the other, while giving the other a little time to recuperate.

In any case, it sure tuckered me out, and I was out there for about 45 min. I'm pretty proud because I started out with a goal of five, and pushed myself to do eight. I felt pretty decent, too, and my recovery time was just right- I would cruise to the bottom of the hill (laying on the brakes as hard as I could- the bottom of the hill was very steep), turn around and then tackle it again. I only sprinted the last time, but kept the rest at a good pace. I'm more interested in improving endurance and recovery times for mountain biking than I'm looking to improve my sprint. It was a good night to be out, and I had a good time.

next up in the training regimen:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Leisurely Road Ride

Last night Cale pried me off of the couch to go for a road ride. We're planning on doing 12 hour duos all this summer, so I think he's just trying to make sure I don't drag him down ;) We left around 6 and headed North. It was a great night for it- one of the first nice warm nights we've had. The wind had died down and it was only a little cool when we got close to the lakefront. We cruised along at a good clip, following the standard northern route.
Just as we were starting out and getting toward downtown, there was some impatient honking behind us at a light. We looked over our shoulders, and I considered giving a general bird to whoever it was. When the light turned green, a car with some young ladies in it went past and one of them waved out the window and called "Sorry! We weren't honking at you!" I kind of laughed, and Cale remarked that you'd never get that in Chicago. No, indeed.
Other than that, the ride was pretty uneventful. We must have made a pretty pastel procession with our jerseys and helmets. I rode the Gios, so hills weren't so much fun (it tends to shift by itself when under stress) but it was a good night for cruising, anyhow. We rode up 15 miles, then turned around and finished up the ride. We saw a lot of people out- none that I recognized by name, though. Such beautiful weather, though. We'll be doing road rides or getting out to Kettle a few more times before the week is out, I'd wager.