Jumping into October!

Well, that's it for September 2016 once the clock strikes Midnight tonight.

As I mentioned rolling into September, a flood of emotions about many issues seem to have ruled my thoughts during September. Serious health issues of my wife's parents - especially her father. Loss of our family pets. And on and on in some way all contributed to a bit of a muddle through period in our lives during September. Throwing myself into a busy Fall Semester helped, as did rehearsals for the upcoming holidays, some repairs on our aging fleet of vehicles, and a bit of focus on getting things in order in the house (interior and exterior).

Tara, Zack, and I flew out to San Francisco to spend Labor Day weekend with Tara's father. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness in August, and we wanted to visit with him. Zack returned last week to spend 5 days with his grandfather, and Tara is there this week. Obviously, it is a tough time for the entire family, but from my view - the entire family is doing everything right.

I located a hiking trail where he lives, and was able to head out for about an hour hike to enjoy a portion of their trails - not to mention the sunny California weather...


Needless to say, an odd juxtaposition considering why we were there to visit. But exercise is a good way to clear one's thoughts, enjoy the fresh air and nature to recharge one's emotional batteries. We flew back to Iowa on Labor Day to be back at work the following day.

Two weeks later, Tara organized an excellent surprise birthday weekend on the occasion of my turning double nickels - or rather a common speed limit of 55 - at the Hotel Pattee in Perry.

I must be pretty dang easy to plan a surprise party around, as like my previous one 5 years ago, I had absolutely no clue about this one. I was only told to be ready to leave at 4:45 on a Friday and to bring my road bike along. I had no clue where we were going. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at the Hotel Pattee, checked in, and went downstairs for our 7 pm reservation for what I thought was going to be a nice quiet evening of husband and spouse chatting - and I walked into this lovely group of friends...



We drank, ate, danced, drank some more, danced some more, and ended the evening with a highly infectious game of couples bowling in the basement bowling alley at the Hotel Pattee.

Speaking of the post meal and what seemed like umpteen glasses of wine haze before the dancing even had begun...


Fun was had by all bowling (perhaps the intoxication enhanced the laughing and fun....), and we all managed to make it to our respective rooms a bit after Midnight. The plan was to meet at 10 am for a morning bike ride. I was a little cross eyed in the morning, but after a nice breakfast - we were off on the Raccoon River Valley Trail to get multiple hours of riding in to burn off the previous night's intake. I had a great time!

Hats off to my lovely spouse for planning a weekend with friends. It was just the shot of medicine I needed - and at the right time.

I managed to also throw in a Cyclocross Race over in Pella to keep my top end fueled knowing I wanted to do a mountain bike race or two before the snow flies. I raced in the Masters 55+ group. I wasn't dead last (came in 4th out of the 7 or 8 of us in the old man's group), but did see my highest heart rate during race for 2016 as it's a full on effort for 40-45 minutes. Mix in a slight uptick in my riding for the month compared to August, and it is now time to JUMP into the month of October with legs that feel a little better than they did in August.

Due to a rained out race last weekend, I will begin the month of October with the rescheduled mountain bike race at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in Minnesota. I try and take in at least one or two races of neighboring state series when I can, and tomorrow is one of those opportunities.

Bike time jumped up about 20% over what I did in August.

September 4th 15.3 Miles -- Duration 1:59:07
September 6th 6.76 Miles -- Duration 00:41:45
September 8th 18.7 Miles -- Duration 1:15:04
September 10th 13.0 Miles -- Duration 1:09:44
September 11th 14.47 Miles -- Duration 1:38:55 (Including a Cross Race)
September 12th 18.3 Miles -- Duration 1:14:02
September 14th 20.8 Miles -- Duration 1:27:19
September 16th 7.81 Miles -- Duration 00:40:52
September 17th 39.7 Miles -- Duration 2:42:34
September 18th 12.9 Miles -- Duration 1:20:40
September 20th 10.9 Miles -- Duration 1:00:34
September 21st 6.88 Miles -- Duration 00:30:39
September 23rd 15.2 Miles -- Duration 00:44:58
September 24th 27.19 Miles -- Duration 1:54:00
September 25th 36.2 Miles -- Duration 2:23:05
September 26th 11.7 Miles -- Duration 1:00:46
September 27th 12.5 Miles -- Duration 1:30:02
September 29th 10.2 Miles -- Duration 00:46:12
September 30th 12.3 Miles -- Duration 00:57:27

September Total Miles: 310.81
September Total Duration: 24:57:45

And that's a wrap for September, 2016!!!


Rolling into September with all kinds of emotions...

I stuck to my goal of riding on dirt only - or at least mountain bikes only - for the month of August. It was a fairly light month for me on the bike compared to the rest of the year due to spending so many hours doing trail work at Lake Ahquabi to get it prepped for the race I host - The Mullet Fall Classic.

Relieved with my fellow race host, Bob Matthews, after we finished the final marking of the course the day before the race.


My month of August on the bike...

I am Mountain Biking Only in August!

August 2nd 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:18:48
August 4th 6.5 Miles -- Duration 00:44:53
August 5th 9.4 Miles -- Duration 00:41:53
August 6th 4.93 Miles -- Duration 00:22:40 (warm-up)
August 6th 19.6 Miles -- Duration 1:31:01 (MTB race)
August 7th 6.31 Miles -- Duration 00:52:02 (dirt lap)
August 7th 18.4 Miles -- Duration 1:12:52 (pavement MTB ride)
August 9th 13.22 Miles -- Duration 1:14:01 (taper reps L3/5 on dirt)
August 12th 8.55 Miles -- Duration 00:34:28
August 13th 6.79 Miles -- Duration 1:02:31
August 14th 22.46 Miles -- Duration 1:51:51 (MTB race)
August 19th 7.24 Miles -- Duration 00:46:00
August 20th 11.6 Miles -- Duration 00:58:18
August 21st 21.68 Miles -- Duration 2:18:19 (MTB race)
August 23rd 6.84 Miles -- Duration 00:42:23
August 24th 13.9 Miles -- Duration 1:56:13
August 30th 8.24 Miles -- Duration 00:44:09
August 31st 30.9 Miles -- Duration 1:55:22

August Total Miles: 235.16
August Total Duration: 20:47:44

Suffice it to say, this year of hosting The Mullet was draining to put on for me as we celebrated the 9th year of the event. Why draining? For one, it was due to the weather leading up to it which looked like nothing but rain until 48 hours before when things changed in favor of an excellent race day course. The second reason revolved around the addition of a Hog Roast. I took the risk to add a Hog Roast to the event since it was our year end event for the series, and series awards would be presented. Tara and I had been to a great event in Colorado last summer with roasted meat - and everyone loved it. That's really where the impetus was to bring such goodness and fun to my event in Iowa - at least to give it the old college try.

The gamble being - would enough people come to cover the expense of chip timing, portable toilets, USAC Officials, beverages, permits, and the - what proved to be controversial for some - Hog Roast?


The intent was not to be controversial at all, but to provide a good end-user experience for our IMBCS season finale. We had done a potluck the last few years, and I thought it was a nice time for a change - especially with the move of the race from October to August to account for the Cyclocross race schedule change due to the Jingle Cross World Cup. I've been to enough events over the years including many that always include food in the entry fee price (Dakota Five-0 being a prime example of that) to know that I wasn't doing something so different than other events who include food as part of the experience. Food trucks and vendors are not allowed at Lake Ahquabi due to the canoe shop's concession stand contract. Although I would have liked to use a vendor (although most charge a minimum that if not met through sales, I would have to cover the gap) so that those who wanted to eat could do so if they wanted to pay for the food - it just simply isn't allowed at this particular state park.

I provided sandwiches in the early years of the race, and the cost of the food was indeed included in the entry fee price. Expenses have always been included in the entry fee price, but it was the Hog Roast this year which bumped the price up $7 per racer over last year (I covered the remaining $3 out of my pocket) that created the issue. I truly thought the price of a fresh hog roast buffet, beer, water, tea, soft drinks wouldn't be a problem to enjoy for $7. Heck, a simple grilled cheese sandwich the previous week at the Sugar Bottom Scramble was $5 from the vendor (and that didn't include a beverage or any sides). We had beans, freshly made cole slaw on site, corn bread, homemade BBQ sauce, a bun, all the pig one could down, beer, tea, water, watermelon, soft drinks. Not bad for a mere $7 - or so I thought....

Not only was I going to include food in the entry price, but also each racer's choice of a t-shirt, hat, cap, or pint mug...



All of these were included in my attempt to enhance the end-user experience.

Several balked online in a public forum at the principle of me adding food into the entry fee cost of a race. So be it. The criticism has been taken, and participant numbers may indeed have been down because of it. We had 128 racers, 6 runners, and 2 in the Kids Race - plus quite a few non-racer friends, family, and significant others that enjoyed the Hog Roast for a donation. It will all weigh in on the future for decisions of what I provide the racers, or if I even move forward with hosting an event again. Certainly, after 9 full years of doing it, if the fun of it all gets sucked out of being a host causes me to even be discussing this openly, then it is time to evaluate the premise of continuing. I'll let all the dust settle, and my energy return before making any decisions.

The amount of garbage we had to pick up - even though we had 2 large garbage cans and garbage bags easily available at the race this year - after the awards ceremony was nearly overwhelming. Some didn't even make an attempt to carry their plates, cans, bottles, etc... to the garbage cans. Several of us launched into the process and picked up everything until darkness arrived. Coming out the next day to do yet another clean sweep in the sunlight to make sure we left the place better than we found it also had me playing more of a garbage man than I felt should be needed. The parking lot was full of garbage, and the first 300 yards of the course was littered with gel wrappers. I know that is all part of the process of being a race promoter, but the task seems to grow year over year dealing with the garbage. I only mention it because it all contributes to my thought process of answering the question of "why do I do this" and do I want to do this again. One of our new beverage sponsors - Oskar Blues Brewery - has their motto on every can "pack it in, pack it out". 

We may have to have everyone learn the "pack it in, pack it out" motto next season.

The 27 who lined up to do the 4 hour Marathon in the humid mid-80's temperature weather...


IMBCS Co-Director Cam Kirkpatrick, and my wife Tara enjoying the first sample of the 139 pound pig once it was out of the roaster... 


I haven't really had time to digest all of the data and accounting yet as I jumped right into the first day of school at Simpson the day after the race. The next day, we had to say goodbye to our beloved family pets, Max and Zoey.

Max - at age 12 - developed a mass in his sinuses/head about three weeks ago that was causing a lot of blood to come out of his nose. We did everything we could with the veterinarian with tests, biopsy, antibiotics, Prednisone - and it all led to the reality he had a mass that was getting worse. He had a rough night on Monday, and Tuesday morning was bleeding pretty heavily out of his nose. 

He was not feeling well and I snapped this picture for my own memory...


You can see the tear streaks in both of his eyes (especially his right eye which is the side the mass was on).  That tearing is indicative of the cancerous mass he had developed.

Zoey, at age 13, had been kept alive for nearly 18 months on very expensive medicine for her Cushing Disease, as well as pain medications for her rear hips/legs (could barely use them). We had decided when Max's health declined - if she was still alive - that it was time to provide a dignified, humane, and painless end for both of them. That day finally arrived on Tuesday.

After we fed them some of the leftover Hog Roast from the race, and some treats - we took them to the Vet for the final goodbye.


Talk about a void in one's companionship and daily routine with both of our beloved pets gone!!!! It was tough, but the Vet assured us we were making the right decision for both of them based on their condition, health, age, and ailments.

In spite of that - it was hard to say good-bye.  Those who have been there, understand.

Compounding the emotional past week or so, we are out in California at this moment visiting my father-in-law who has received a dire diagnosis and is in the hospital. He begins Hospice care tomorrow. Again, those who have been there, understand.

It has been an emotional journey the past few weeks. The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on, but for now - we are going through what we are going through this Labor Day Weekend.


A Tale of Two Races...

...or something like that.

August 14th was the George Wyth MTB Race in Waterloo, Iowa. August 21st was the Sugar Bottom Scramble in Solon, Iowa.

Two races. Two tales.

Both had blue skies...

Blue Sky!

Both had sweet condition singletrack...

Sugar Sweet Singletrack

George Wyth is a flat course. Sugar Bottom has climbs.

My FTP for a flat course is lower. My FTP for a course with climbs is higher.

That's typical for my body type (tall, thin) which means a rider with more muscular mass usually trumps me when it comes to FTP on a flatter course.

I struggled at the George Wyth MTB Race trying to produce enough power to move along. I even fell in the mud when my bike jack knifed like an 18 wheeler which sent me tumbling down into the mud. I wasn't dead last, but right next to it coming in 5th Place in my age class.

I was in better form at the Sugar Bottom Scramble and although the course and race were longer, I did not feel as cooked at the Finish line and felt bike handling and my power output was much better throughout. Again, I was not dead last. but not far from it coming in 19th out of 23 (and two of those behind me were mechanicals). No twinges of cramping and I felt that nearing the end of my 2nd season racing in COMP, I am starting to adapt to the longer races over the Sport category distances used in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin that I raced for so many years. Nebraska's CAT II Sport is a longer duration equivalent of our COMP distance, so doing a couple of those races per season helps race stamina as well.

Recap: After wondering why I did so well at the Tranquility Tire Tantrum one weekend, felt I did so poorly at the George Wyth MTB Race, and then bounced back and felt like I did well at the Sugar Bottom Scramble - it reminded me of the reality I have two different FTP's depending on the terrain. I do better when there are hills involved.


Last week involved a flight out to San Francisco to drive back with my daughter following her summer internship that she did with Honest Tea. Before leaving, she took me to Farmerbrown's in San Francisco where I indulged in some good southern cooking via a plate of chicken and waffles.


(That's my daughter's Cobb Salad in the foreground which I helped polish off as well...)

We drove back in two marathon days taking turns behind the wheel with 3-4 hour stints. An overnight stop in Park City, Utah and a great pizza at Maxwell's which I highly recommend if you are in the Park City or Salt Lake City area. It was the only place open near our motel serving food late at night, and it turns out it was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They also had a great choice of beer to go with it. The drive across Wyoming and Nebraska are always tedious, but we made good time and rolled into Indianola about 12:30 a.m. after we stopped for dinner in Lincoln.

Monday was plumbing day to replace the kitchen faucet. We chose one at Lowe's on Saturday and it is now installed and working properly. Had to go from our previous 4 hole arrangement and use the included plate to turn it into a "two hole" configuration...


Now it is back to getting the trails in shape, and everything lined up for this weekend's race at Lake Ahquabi that I host - The Mullet Fall Classic. My son and I hit a yellow jacket nest yesterday while trimming trail. He got nailed several times as he was ahead of me with the jet pack Stihl leaf blower, and I was behind him with the Viper. He started waving his arms and ran off, and I realized quick enough what was going on and only got bit twice. My left hand is all swollen and stiff this morning (not to mention the itch!).


I should probably take some Benadryl and ice it.

My right hand to compare the puffiness of my left one with it...


My son got a big one on his stomach that is swollen. Unfortunately, I have to locate that nest as it is right where riders will be riding their bikes. I've done it before out there when a nest was in a section of the race course, and it involves going out at night when they are all in the nest sleeping and pouring my concoction in their hole which takes care of the problem. But first, I have to venture back and find the actual location of the nest in the ground. It's actually only about 35 yards away from one I had to take care of three years ago. I think we'll carry an EpiPen with us today in case we get hit!


Bike handling woes figured out!!!

I mentioned in my recap of the Tranquility Tire Tantrum the bike handling woes I was having - even blaming it on the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in the dirt conditions. Suffice it to say, I was puzzled because when I first got the Yeti - things were ripping great.

I messed around with my Yeti and my JET 9 in the driveway and neighborhood yesterday and just couldn't understand why the Yeti was wallowing in the corners compared to my JET. It was perplexing to me and as you read in my post yesterday, I had chalked it up to me needing more time to groove the geometry and handling of the bike.

I had been hearing creaking on my Yeti frame the past couple of weeks, and after reading numerous posts on the Yeti forum, I assumed it was what others had described as my main pivot bolt needed to be removed, greased, and reinstalled. I had decided to set this task aside when I was good and ready, and went into the TTT this past Saturday with a heck of a creak. Enough that three people in the parking lot during warm ups asked me about it. I said the main pivot needed greasing as if I was some expert on the subject just by reading a few threads at MTBR.com. In spite of my expertise, my bike was squirrely in the corners at the race. I figured it was the tires and loose dirt.

Well, today I went for a training ride and after 8:27 minutes into it, I suddenly got massive tire rub in the rear which caused me to immediately brake and see what was wrong. Did I break a spoke and the rear wheel was suddenly out of round? Nope. Was the rear TA not tight enough to hold the wheel firmly in place? Nope. What was it? I flipped my bike over and checked everything which seemed fine. So I got back on the bike and the tire rub was immediate. I stopped again. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a bolt that holds one of the upper pivots had fallen out. WTF?

I turned around and scoured the trail looking for whatever pieces I could find. After about 10 minutes, I found a washer and a bolt that had fallen off. How about that? So they had been loose enough to cause the creaking, and the bolt had backed out enough to give me about 1/4" to 1/2" of play in the rear end. No wonder it was squirrely!!! I needed two same size allen wrenches to reinstall the bolt (one for both sides). So I hiked back to the car and got the tools I needed. It takes quite a few turns to get the male bolt tightened into the female receiver - enough to realized that my rear end of the bike had quite a bit of play in it during the race this past Saturday. I was fortunate the bolt didn't fall out in the middle of that race!!

Once the bolt was installed and tightened back up to torque, suddenly the bike was just like it was when I first got it. Knifing through the singletrack again, and checking the handling - I realized it was not my handling or adjustment to it that was off at all. All the woes were on this loose rear pivot bolt and the play it was giving the rear end.

Moral of the story - at least in my case: check your pivot bolts every now and then - especially if you hear creaking - to make sure they are snug.



Crawling back into racing form...

I say crawling back into form compared to all the road biking I did this summer, and how I have felt since July 12th with two surgical procedures and a bad tooth (that is now gone).

I had a pretty good ride/race at the Tranquility Tire Tantrum yesterday in Omaha.  The pain from those two recent July surgeries had all dissipated and my body is crawling back to having better energy levels. I'm not surprised that pain and surgery (not to mention all the pain meds) takes a toll, but I felt like I've climbed out of that hole compared to two weeks ago as I lumbered around the Ingawanis Race course feeling mentally and physically like I was in a trance.

Going into the race yesterday, I only had 5 days to recover from last weekend's Raccoon River Valley Trail ride with Tara. So I treated the week appropriately by following the week 12 peak week per LWCoaching's recommendation. I did some trail work as well, but made sure I front loaded the week with the heavy leg trail work, and did work on Friday that was less lower body intensive. The result was my legs felt good on Saturday during the race, and I was able to hammer the climbs to take advantage of that strength.

Trail conditions at Tranquility were very dry and dusty. I found myself fighting in the corners and dust with the Racing Ralphs more than I wanted to be doing. Squirmy would be the definition I would use to describe how they were performing. Talking to Michael Maney after racing was over, he too felt the same thing with his Racing Ralphs. We both felt a Renegade on the rear would have been much better in the conditions. I'm still struggling a bit with bike handling with the Yeti compared to the 8 year groove I have with my JET 9. I think it will iron itself out going forward, but for now - the bike and how it handles is still in the newness column for me as I don't have that many hours or miles with it yet. Wider handlebars, shorter stem, slacker geometry all combined has me fighting a bit to the point that what used to be a strength for me handling my bike through the tight and twisty as well as technical has now become a mind block- and a weakness. However, the climbing, the flats, and the bumpy descents shine with this bike.

I am not all that familiar with who is who in my age division at Psycowpath as I had only done one race this year back in June at Lewis and Clark on my Salsa Dos Niner. I bobbled that course on the Dos Niner like I had never ridden off road before, but recognized the rider (Mark Paulsen) who had bested me there for 1st Place as I took 2nd. Mark was on my tail using the strategy to let me pull and hold back until he was ready to pull around me. That didn't bother me. Even though I knew there were 6 signed up in my age class, I figured he was "it" in my class to worry about not realizing there was another racer ahead of us that we should have been chasing. That's my bad as obviously the same 6 of us were not at Lewis and Clark. In spite of that, I was riding a good pace during lap one trying to keep something in reserve, and near the end of the lap got a bit confused at a section that had lots of orange paint, some spectators, and a jump. I did not pre-ride the course, so my quick confusion and what to do led to a bail out on the jump and Mark who was still right on my tail passed me.

Right after the bailed jump frustrated I couldn't get my foot clipped back in right away...


Soon after that, I fumbled my water bottle because the cage is so low on the Yeti that I was having trouble retrieving it, and getting it back into the cage while keeping the tires on the narrow "cow" path trails proved to be enough of a challenge that I slowed way down just to get a dang drink. So another rider passed me. That's how quickly something can change in a race, and I got caught with my pants down so to speak. Prior to yesterday, I had been using a Camelbak pack because of that. I may go back to that as it is much easier. Following the bailed jump and bottle fumble, I hammered to catch up. I passed the one rider who had gone around me during the bottle fumble, and hooked on near the tail of Mark who had passed me at the jump. He was able to create a gap on a section that pointed out a weakness I was having on the Yeti with the wide bars. As I went across the finish line to begin the second lap, I saw that I had some time to make up as Mark was a few hundred yards in front of me. I kept my cool thinking I could hammer the climbs to make it up during lap two.

Coming across the line after lap 1...

TTT Start:Finish area

I got stuck behind a slower rider on the first set of switchback climbs, and unfortunately waited way too long to make my move around him allowing more of a gap to build between myself and the rider I was chasing in front of me. Once out in the open section, I hammered the climbs and saw the rider I was chasing had about a good 30-45 seconds (or more) on me. I knew that was going to be hard to make up, but I at least let myself go a bit in the sections that I felt weak in and was rolling a better lap in lap two than I did in lap one. The rider who had passed me during the bottle fumble, and I had passed back, caught up to me as he went around me right before the jump and caught some big air. I kept strong and managed to not bobble the remainder of the course crossing the line feeling strong. It was good enough for a 3rd Place finish with a minute separating me front 2nd, and 2 minutes from 1st.



Podium antics including the 2nd Place finisher, Mark Paulsen, missing the award's ceremony as he was somewhere in the parking lot...


I know I have it in me to put up more of a fight if I can get the bike handling down with the Yeti. I may have to trim the bars and swap tires to my favorites, but all in all I felt pretty good with my effort - especially coming off the surgeries in July. HR data looks rather normal for an XC race for me...



Whew, 9 pounds gone...!

Amazing how the combination of Ibuprofen, the IV for Friday's surgery, and pain medications contributed to water retention weight gain.

I hit my peak on Sunday morning at 177.8 pounds which was a bit shocking to me based on prior weight. Okay, it was really, really shocking! Thankfully, I was back to 168.2 pounds today without changing anything except knocking out the pain medications and Ibuprofen as I allowed the body to adjust and get back to parity. Hmmmm....that's a 9.6 pound swing and explains why I looked and felt bloated.

I'm sure it will take a few days for it all to settle out, but the fear of what that kind of water retention can do to my heart, and my kidneys had me concerned. I trust that the surgical site in my mouth for the oral surgery last Friday continues to heal and not require any sort of medication going forward. It's still a tad tender, but I am coping with it.

In other developments, the rain has cleared out so I can get back to trail preparation for The Mullet Fall Classic on August 28th at Lake Ahquabi State Park. There is plenty to do here around the house as well, so there will be no dull moments during the month of August for me.

One day at a time. Advice to all: enjoy each day as it unfolds.


Wrapping up July!

I'm happy to say that my planned and unplanned surgery sessions are now all finished! (Knock on wood...)

After returning from our vacation in Italy, it seems my body went through an overhaul of procedures to fix this and that. The final surgical procedure of the month was to deal with tooth #31 to round out the month of 'hey, let's overhaul what needs fixing'...

Along with surgery comes the residual pain during the healing and the need for pain medications, Ibuprofen, and in the case of the tooth - antibiotics as an infection had settled in around the tooth and neck. Thanks to the tooth pain that began during our vacation in Italy, I have taken more Ibuprofen than I would ever care to take in a 6 week period. So the bloat from water retention had me feeling puffy. I forced myself yesterday to tough it out and go without any pain medications for the first time in weeks. I made it through the discomfort, and a nice long bike ride with Tara helped occupy my mind on something else besides the mouth pain.


We took advantage of the cloud cover and mild temperatures to knock out our annual Raccoon River Valley Trail ride. It seems that every time we go, we ride it in the opposite direction from the previous time to help keep it interesting. It's not the most challenging ride as there is very little elevation change, and the trail is seemingly straight for the entire 72 miles. The only variety or challenge comes from the wind, and the temperature. However, we do enjoy riding it at least once every season as it is just one member of the excellent basket of trail options we have here in Central Iowa. We figured it would jiggle my teeth the least amount of where we ride.


We rode from the Waukee Trail Head due West on the southern portion first with a plan to lunch in Panora. Tara had a nice burger and I enjoyed the daily special which was a brisket sandwich (and proved soft enough for me to be able to chew). Following our tasty lunch stop, we had a nice tail wind heading north before turning back East at Herndon, and facing a side wind/head wind all the way back for the 2nd half. Maintaining the same HR meant about a 5 - 6 mph difference going against the wind compared to going with it, so I bumped up our effort during the 2nd half which resulted in our legs feeling nice and spent as we rolled into the Waukee Trail Head parking lot. Rehab work on my right shoulder had been going well, but when I reached in my jersey pocket to retrieve some pocket change I was reminded I have a ways to go yet and let out a nice loud YELP. There's a good chance all of the Ibuprofen and pain meds have been masking the shoulder discomfort quite well, and that's why I noticed it yesterday without the meds as I have increased the mobility of range quite a bit in the past two weeks.

Back at home, and a nice nap was followed by pizza and wine to recover. That was before we hit Dairy Queen to take advantage of all the calories we burned leaving us with room in the tank to indulge a bit. We drove out to the balloon fields to see the Night Glow that was scheduled, but were too late. It wasn't even dark yet, and the event was over. The Guest Guide schedule for the National Balloon Classic said it started at dark. I guess their definition of dark is different than mine.

Nevertheless, the balloons are in town and the dogs are barking at them...

P1010001 2

I'm happy to report that just 24 hours later of getting off the Ibuprofen and pain meds, at least 2 pounds of the water retention has been shed, and I expect a little more after another day or two of avoiding taking any more. Suffice it to say, not all of my recent weight gain has been water retention alone as I have been packing in the calories (packed on about 5 pounds!!!), and have not been able to ride as hard as usual, nor have I been lifting weights due to recovering from surgery. C'est la vie, I hope to turn that all around during August.

In spite of all the procedures for my July overhaul I went through, I did manage to get some time in on a bike - in some shape or form - to not be too far out of the loop.  About 1/2 of it is due to our riding in Italy, and yesterday's ride.

Miles and time on the bike for July.

July Total Miles: 382.48
July Total Duration: 34:43:26

And that's a wrap for July! August has arrived with what appears to be a morning Thunderstorm and yet another inch or so of rain....