Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'd do it all over again...If I could


It's that time of year when things settle down, the traveling subsides, the racing goes on hold, and the real training begins. It's also that time of year when I spend a lot of time thinking about all that I've experienced. There were definitely moments on the bike when I felt untouchable and times when I felt I was doomed. Here's a quick look at my year, from my backyard, to Kansas, to Colorado, and everywhere in between.

Pumped about an 8th place finish at the gravel classic,
Ragnarok 105.

Shelled, but happy with a 3rd place at the Northern
Kettles 100 miler.
The Chequamegon 100 didn't end well for me. I got LOST,
but I still had a great time. I'll be back to redeem myself.

 The flood nearly broke Duluth's spirit, but not quite.

 Beautiful Kansas. I cruised with the leaders early on in the Dirty
Kanza 200, but 5 flats left me decimated emotionally and
physically. With nothing left I decided to race the SUN, everything
changed after that.

   Then, I got two articles published on Dirt
about the Dirty Kanza, That was cool.

I even got interviewed on Mountain Bike Radio - TWICE!

It's not always about the bike.
Amy and I hangin' after Duluth's Grandma's
Marathon. Just one of the many 1/2 marathons Amy did in 2012.

3rd place at the 24 Hours of 9 Mile (12 hour solo) left me filthy,
but happy.

The Vapor Trail, the grand daddy of my year.
The memories will be with me forever.

Back home on the shores of Lake Superior.
Right where I belong.

Where did the time go?
My Spearfish and the DBD patch kept me going
all year.
So there it is, a flashback of 2012. There were many events and great rides that weren't represented here, they're tucked away in the recesses of my memories. I'll keep them for myself...for now. Hope your year left you feeling the same way mine did.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thanks for the Coffee

3 of Duluth's 4 DBD'ers fatbike down Minnesota's North Shore
Trail. (Eki, Buff (left), and Farrow)

5:50 a.m. I jolted awake to the sound of my watch alarm telling me it was time to go. Finally, I'd be out of the house and back on my bike, but this time I'd be on my Mukluk and back into the arms of the DBD. It's funny, cause it seems the more the DBD'ers go off in search of adventure, the less time they spend together.

"I was told there'd be coffee", were the first words I said to Farrow after months of not seeing him. You see some early week planning for this ride involved me riding across town on a cold, dark, morning for a nice cup of coffee at Charlie's house before we would embark on the ride itself. Well, ride across town I did and my hands froze, which was an amature move on my part, as I wore some seriously light weight gloves. Anxious for that "cup of coffee" I scampered up the steps of the Farrow estate, my cycling shoes skating around the frosty surface of his deck, when I heard his greeting, "Eki, I've got bad news...No Coffee". The plan was already falling apart. No worries, it could have been worse I figured. Suddenly, Charlie determined to not be beaten by the lack of coffee, made another announcement, "I do have this!" He produced a small tea bag looking thing (it was a small bag of coffee), swinging it in front of my face with a devilish grin on his face, "It's coffee!". I agreed to drink the substance after an addition of some almond milk, which came after some hesitation from me. Turns out the coffee was outstanding and jump started my frozen being. Soon, we were ready to ride.

We jumped on our machines, headed for the country and the North Shore Trail. You see good ole Buff was already out there doin' it and had been for hours, that's just the way he is. Our plan was simple ride the trail North until we saw our partner coming toward us, and then we'd turn to ride with with him back to Duluth. It was to be an epic day.

It didn't seem long before we were on the trail plowing through the wet, soft surface, regaling each other with stories of past triumphs when "it" happened. Farrow's ongoing battle with his gear reared it's ugly head. His chain SNAPPED! There we were somewhere North of Duluth in the middle of the wilderness with his machine maimed. He worked on the chain while I continued on with stories and kept an eye to the northern portion of the trail. Where was "Big Buff"? Then, over the rise the almighty one himself rode with ease as he shook his head either in disbelief or was he seeing something all too familiar, the site of Charlie working on his bike. Buff had arrived. It struck me that in order to put all three of us together on the face of this Earth, it must be done in the far reaches of the woods.

Farrow fixes the machine.

Soon we were riding again and it felt right. Buff hurt our legs as he climbed effortlessly despite the 2 plus hours he had on us thus far. The day began to warm as the fog cleared and the sun found it's way to our chilled bodies. The fat tires were a perfect fit for the soft, bumpy terrain. The ride would go down as one of the "good ones". There's no one else I'd rather spin 6 hours of trail time with that these two guys.

A short break off the trail as we by-pass a swamp.

As I spun home alone after splitting off from Buff I reviewed the day from start to finish. It occurred to me that at the start of the day while I mocked Charlie for not having his gear ready to go the night before, I never thanked him for that cup of coffee.

So, with the world watching I say, "Hondo, thanks for that cup of coffee. It was one of the best cups I've ever had."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Resting is Boring

I like sleeping, but this is getting ridiculous.

O.k., I'm sticking with the cat theme here for one more post.

As some of you may have gathered from my last entry I've been a bit tired from what some may describe as too much riding. Is that even possible?

So, here I sit in a forced state of "non-riding". Sure, I do my little commute back and forth to work, but really it's so short that it's like heading to the fridge for another beer. I think I'm ready to get back at it as I find myself getting stir crazy, even missing the routine. I never thought I'd say this (just ask my wife), but I actually think I'm getting tired of laying around. My clothes are getting tight, pizza is starting to seem...uh, not that great anymore, and I am really getting into The Voice.  Clearly, it's time to start riding again.

The Mukluk will be dusted off this weekend as I head out into the woods, just to see if I remember how to do it. Hopefully I haven't forgotten.

More to come....


Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm Wiped OUT!

Is it normal to feel this way?

The season is over! Now I look forward to training. I've got a brand new plan for the upcoming year...shhhh. I hope that it will break me through the ceiling I've been fighting against for the past two years. Let's face it, I want to ride like a 'Big Boy'.

Now, for how I'm feeling lately. The picture above is me at work. I'm so tired constantly I wonder if something is wrong. I realize that a season of ultra endurance races can take a bite out of a guy. I also didn't anticipate the Vapor Trail absolutely crushing my body, maybe I'm still reeling from it, who knows.

I've been riding minimally lately. We're talking really short commutes to work with an occasional weekend mt. bike ride. Yet, my legs ache, my body is sore in the morning, and all I want to do is sleep.

Hopefully I'll bounce out of this funk and see you out on the sno mo trails.

In the meantime, my ringer is getting turned off and I'll be in bed. Good Night.


Monday, October 1, 2012

"Heck of the North" Recap: A letter to the DBD

Men of the DBD,

As I sit here I have a deep ache coursing through my legs. I may have pushed my tired, aging body too far. I went into the Heck with a clear notion that I may slip back into the pack. But, I vowed to take a crack at glory for as long as I was able. I rode comfortably in the lead group of what seemed like half of the field to the first off road section. Once at this section the sharp end of the race nailed it with a fury that I could not match. I couldn't believe how hard they were crushing the section. Needless to say, I was spit out the back, left to watch them round the corner that was always just ahead of me.

I lost a bottle in the first off road and then spent hours worrying about how I would eventually run out of water. In the mean time, myself, Shawn Gort, and Dan Glisczinsk (both of Duluth) joined into a fast moving rotation in an effort to close down the minute and a half gap the lead group had put on us. We worked well together taking no more than what seemed to be 15 second pulls. I could see that we were reeling the lead group back in, but it was coming at a cost. Approximately 40 minutes of hard pull after hard pull and we had them. I launched a final surge on Pequam Lakes Rd. to make the final bridge to them. We had made it! The triumph of making it back to the men who rode comfortably and securely in each other's draft was short lived as we then entered the Brimson Trail with very little time to recover from the "bridge up". Again the pace went to the moon and I found myself slipping back as I just couldn't match the effort.

I hit the sharp U-turn on the gravel after the Brimson Trail section only to have my front wheel wash out. I quick stab of my right foot to the road sent my calf into a golf ball size cramp. I watched my only chance at a re-connect (Scott Hippen) ride away from me while I tried to get the muscle to release. I was now on my own.

In an effort to save some semblance of honor I attempted to ratchet up the pace in the hopes that maybe I would catch a straggler who had fallen of the lead pack. It was not to be. The light switch that operates power in my legs had been turned off. Maybe it was the 20,000 feet of climbing a few weeks back in Colorado. Maybe it was the long hard season of 10 plus endurance races. Maybe it was just that I couldn't keep up.

I proceeded to ride the next 50 miles alone. I kept a steady pace as I crushed internal organs over miles of wash board. I tried to reflect on my year and tell myself that I'd done well and that they all can't be GREAT.

The confusion I had with the down power pole and the re-route was disheartening. I chose to spin in easy from that point on telling myself that it was a beautiful day and a beautiful ride. It was.

Thanks Jeremy, as always...spectacular!

Now I rest.