Hit by a TORNADO!!!!

8:10 - 8:20 p.m. or so Friday night, our neighborhood in Indianola was hit by a tornado. Our house was one of the houses that sustained damage, but not as bad as the 6 houses to the west of us. We lost most of the garage shingles, all of our fences, our shed, trees, air conditioner, basement flooded and one of our very dear friends who was at our house visiting was injured and is in the hospital in Des Moines (twisted vertebrae). Had the path been 20-25 feet more to the north we would have lost the entire roof (and maybe more).

Here she is (from a distance) shot by some guys who posted it on KCCI's site:

This is my favorite shot of the Mo-Fo that wreaked havoc on us. I don't know who took it, but they submitted it to KCCI.

Indianola Tornado 7/23/2010

The view from somebody who was in the their car with a cellphone on Highway 92 (highway 92 is about 1/2 mile south of us and the tornado is ripping through our neighborhood as that picture is being taken)...

Visiting the Neighborhood...

Another view from somewhere in Indianola...

Another view...

Three houses to the west of us didn't fare so well...

Three Houses to the West of us...

I'll get out tomorrow morning and survey the damage, but the flood crew is coming at 9 a.m. to attack the mess in the basement. I will get a roofing company here ASAP to plug all the holes in the roof and stop the flooding in the garage. I may have to climb up on the roof and nail down some tarps in the meantime. Lots of clean up to do....

RAGBRAI will obviously not happen for us this year. I'll go get our bikes off of the Team Simpson truck tomorrow morning.

Update from Saturday....

I snapped a few shots of our damage while clean up efforts began, but I didn't get around the neighborhood to take shots of all 13 houses that were hit. It could have been a lot worse on our block, but as you can see, our row of houses had the backyards as a "tornado alley" as it worked through our block. The block to the west that was hit hard lost a lot more as there were 6 houses hit directly.

Cleanup efforts went very well on Saturday. All of our basements had crews ripping up the carpet and getting the blowers going to dry things out. We were lucky to get a roofing contractor and a crew of 5 up on the roof to attack the damage on the west side where the leaks were from the lost shingles. They finished by 4 p.m. Saturday and the roof looks great. According to the contractor, the entire south side still has to be done, but the insurance adjuster will have to approve that after his visit this week. And the east side of the house has some damage that I discovered in the afternoon which will have to be repaired.

The city brought out 4 or 5 large dumpsters (18 wheeler flatbed size) and we all worked together to throw all the debris in the dumpsters. As soon as they were full, they would haul it off and bring in another empty one. Everyone chipped in on the neighborhood effort with chainsaws, muscle, rakes, grit and determination. Young, old, strong, weak - everyone went at it. It's no miracle, you just have to do it and work together. After about 6 - 8 hours, the majority of the mess was cleaned up and hauled away. A big thanks to all that chipped in and helped. And a big thanks to those that brought food, drink, cookies, water, etc... . It meant a lot and helped fuel us through the day.

Our backyard tornado alley action:


Where our shed used to be

Tornado Alley

Pile of "stuff" in the backyard

Crew working on all the trees

More tree damage

West side of roof

Neighborhood Works Together

I found the rest of our shed this morning while I was taking the dogs for a walk. There were 3 sections about a block to the east. And I found one section of our neighbors shed about 2 blocks east.

Ah....the power of Mother Nature.


Weekend of Racing in the bag...

I did back to back XC races this weekend in the heat. Saturday was the IMBCS #6 Scott County Park Chase XC Race just outside of Eldridge, Iowa and Sunday was the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series #5 Singletrack Attack at Hillside Park in Elk River, Minnesota.


I drove over Saturday morning to Scott County Park with my JET 9 ready to race. I got there about an hour before the race and had plenty of time to register, suit up and warm up in the already very warm and humid temperatures. The heat didn't seem to be bothering me though as I felt good during the warming up process. I took a bottle on the bike and placed one on the ground at the lap turn for the 2nd half of the race. The JET was shifting great with the wider spindle bottom bracket and the new XC prototype tires I am testing were mounted front and rear after getting a flat on my Aspens earlier in the week.

I lined up near the back of the pack for the sprint up the hill to the singletrack. Immediately after the start, somebody about 2 rows ahead of me went down hard in the weeds on the right side and several went down with him. This caused all of us in the back to dismount and wait until all the carnage was up off the ground and back on their bikes. Once this 2nd half of the group got up and running, there was a nice gap between us and the 1st half of the field. I sprinted to the front of this group and in the singletrack locked in behind a rider I finished ahead of last year in this race. He was riding strong and I followed him the entire race this year making sure he was never too far from me. Along the way a couple of guys passed us, but we ended up passing them back eventually. And we worked hard to track down some of the riders that had been in front of the opening crash. Some were fading in the heat and we passed them in lap 2. Some were having mechanical issues and we passed them.

The course was fast and fun, but didn't have very much climbing to it. Lots of tight and twisty, but the JET was up to the task and the heat was not bothering me at all. Rounding out the final lap, I put the chain on the big chain ring and was ready for the final sprint to the line to try and beat the guy I had been following the entire race. Suddenly, he went down in front of me in a narrow passage through two big trees. I didn't want to beat him in that fashion, but he was down - so I rode on by him and headed full out to the finish line.

I rolled across in 22nd place for the CAT 2 riders. 21 finished ahead of me and 21 finished behind me. I would call that dead in the middle of the pack. I chatted with Iowa Griz post race as he was getting ready for the CAT 1 battle. I sampled the goods from AdvoCare then went to pack up and head home for the night.

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series #5

Day 2 of the race weekend had me drive the 4 1/2 hours to Elk River where I arrived 70 minutes before the race started. I brought the Dos Niner with the Thudbuster for this course as it had a lot of short power climbs which I knew I would be out of saddle on my 2nd day of racing to propel myself up the hills. They had received a bit more than an inch of rain during the night and some tornadoes had hit the park. Lots of downed trees, but the volunteer crew was out at 5 a.m. clearing the trails (and they were perfect!!!). Kudos to the crew for dealing with a last minute clearing.


The soil has a lot of sand in it, so the rain was absorbed really well and made for nice racing conditions. Temps stayed down around 80 - so things were much better than the prior day in the mid 90's. I headed out with my wave (40-49 year olds) and worked my way up during lap one where we started to hit the slower riders in the wave that started before us. The Dos was working well and I was forcing my legs to work on the climbs. This is a great course with some nice technical sections to satisfy everyone's desires.


Lap 2 had me tailing a guy that had passed me on a section where we had an option to go through a shorter technical rock garden, or take the longer and easier way around it. I forgot which way was which on lap 2 and ended up on the longer route and this guy passed me by taking the shorter route. I planned on sprinting to the finish line to try to get back in front of him. When we came out of the forest and hit the sprint, I stood to hammer all the way to the line. I didn't realize it until it was too late, but the finish line was only about 4 feet wide with a very narrow chute after it. Here we were, 2 guys sprinting for the line (he beat me by an inch), and our bars got locked together as the chute narrowed while we tried to slow. I lost control of the front wheel and went ass over tea kettle. Front tire ripped and exploded and I tucked my head/shoulder as I hit and rolled. The crowd uttered a stunned sigh and the next thing I knew, a policeman was bent over me asking if I was okay. I slowly sat up and realized my arms and legs were still functioning, told the policeman my pride was hurt and hobbled back to the car to clean up.

I really don't know how I didn't get seriously hurt. That finish line area and chute were down right dangerous. Certainly not safe for finish line sprints. I haven't really looked at the Dos Niner yet since I've been home to see if the front wheel is also damaged, but I'll get to it eventually.

I ended up in 6th place for my age group which was 2 spots better than the prior Minnesota race. I now have a 4th, an 8th and a 6th place finish. Outside of the crash at the finish line, I was really pleased with my racing - especially being the 2nd consecutive day of it. I headed home, but had to pull off at a rest area for a 30 minute nap I was so tired.

Now it is time to get packed and ready for RAGBRAI. I sold Zack's wristband this morning as he has football camp next week starting on Wednesday and can't do RAGBRAI because of that. I'm teaching at our Orpheus Music Camp this week, so no time for much riding or anything else for that matter. Plus my niece is here from California and our kitchen is being painted. And I'm singing a mini-concert tomorrow night. Too much going on, so it is hard to focus on getting RAGBRAI gear together.

And the rain continues with heavy amounts falling daily...


Time to RAGBRAIZE the bikes...

It's time to morph the bikes into whatever they are going to be for the upcoming RAGBRAI. I'll throw some Continental Ultra Sport 700x28 tires on the wife's bike. I've got some old Specialized Infinity 700x38 tires that I used to ride in Austria for commuting and bike path riding. Actually, I rode them on RAGBRAI on the Karate Monkey one year. I'll pull them out today and see if they are still in decent shape. If not, I'll pick up something for the week.

Having ridden RAGBRAI on Big Apples, Kwests, Infinity's, Karma/Crow combination, etc... - it doesn't really matter to me what rubber I've got underneath me. The wife, however, wanted something more "road oriented" - so hopefully the cheap Ultra Sports will do it for her. She'll be on her Air 9 with the carbon fork, so pretty much a hybrid set up with the tires. I might suit up the Karate Monkey or maybe even cannibalize parts from a couple of bikes and the parts bin to build out the old Sugar 293 frame (for a wacko full suspension hybrid touring bike) to ride for the week. Who knows? But I'll get something going today. My son, who is all registered for RAGBRAI, announced yesterday he's going to football camp that week instead so that opens up his Specialized road bike for me to ride if I choose to go that way. Or the recumbent lurks, but I couldn't keep up with the wife if I ride the LWB 40 pound monster.

Tara is playing catch up on some training as all of the rain has held her back from her preferred times she can get out on the bike. She got 50 miles in on Sunday and did another 30 last night. She's heading out on Wednesday for a big one as well.

I'll get some pictures of whatever I come up with today to ride.

Edit: After a few attempts at figuring out what to ride, I reached for the Specialized road bike. It's an XL and fits me fine. I swapped to a stem with more rise for a more RAGBRAI scenic riding posture, put the seat bag on there, adjusted the seat height and tilt, ordered some 31.8mm clamp adapters for my AGU Klickfix handlebar bag, swapped pedals and changed tubes to get the bike ready for RAGBRAI. I'll dig out the tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, tent fans, and other camping gear we will need for the excursion. We load up a week from Friday with Team Simpson.



Memorial Classic and chain woes on the JET don't mix!

I ventured up to Red Wing for the Memorial Classic race. I decided to run the JET with all the climbing on that course as I wanted light weight race bike and suspension front and rear for the rough parts of that course. It rained pretty much the entire drive up there and I feared the worst case scenario. However, about 20 miles outside of Red Wing the rain stopped and things looked to be okay.

I got suited up, registered and warmed up for the race. I was pretty run down from all the physical work of getting my Dad moved out of his house and into his new retirement apartment in Rapid City. I did manage to get in 2, one hour rides up in the mountains while I was in the Black Hills on this last trip to keep the legs and lungs working.

After the call ups and lining up, the starting gun sounded. This week we had a better turn out for my wave (40-49 year olds) as 25 guys toed the line ready to roll. I got up near the front and didn't start too strong off the line, but played yo-yo with a bunch of other racers and finally worked my way up pretty far in the pack during the long prologue before we hit the singletrack.

There's always one wise guy every race who yells out when it gets tire to tire and we are working our way through the first 10 - 15 minutes of singletrack. And it always comes from some nut about 5-10 guys back in the pack who gets stuck in traffic - or so he thinks. You know the type. They yell out: "Come on guys, let's get going!!" As if nobody in front of him was moving on their bikes...

Now, why didn't Mr. Wiseguy use the very long prologue portion of the race to work his way up in the group of 25 racers so he didn't have to bellow out his stock line after he felt that he was being held up? Go figure. There. Rant over.

Okay, lap one went pretty well and I was literally shocked as to the great conditions of the singletrack considering all of the rain. It was dry and fast. And some spots were perfect in their tacky conditions. You couldn't have asked for better course conditions.

Lap 2 started out fine and then my new JET 9 - which has a wider yoke at the chainstay than my old JET 9 - started giving me major headaches. The problem was that when I had the chain on the inner ring of my 2 x 9 set up, the chain would jump up and get stuck between the outer ring and the chainstay. Below is a picture of somebody's RIP that would do the same thing from MTBR.com and is the exact same thing that my JET was experiencing.

It kept doing this when I would hammer or climb on the inner chainring:


RATS!!! This caused about a dozen unwanted dismounts to fix the situation. Needless to say, my place in the race quickly dropped from a "doing quite well" situation to a "I hope I just finish" frame of reality. I had this problem on the RIP when I first built it up and had to drop down to a 40T outer ring to prevent the chain from getting stuck in there. It's been golden ever since. My JET has a ring that is equivalent to a 42T at times (it's an oval Rotor Q Ring) and that was the problem. I'd go for a few minutes, and then when I needed to apply the power up a hill or around a switchback - chain would get stuck. Over and over until I finally gave up and just left the chain on the big ring up front which meant the steep hills were killers for me. By this time, I had dropped way, way back in my age group.

And then the rain hit. Things turned from a beautiful dry with tacky spots to a greasy mess rather quickly. I wasn't running friendly tires for these new conditions at all. So the latter half of the lap was more of a survival "don't kill yourself and miss work on Monday in these conditions" type of race for me. During the rain, it got dark enough that I had to take my sunglasses off as I could no longer see it was so dark.

Red Wing

I managed to stay upright and finish the race in spite of my chain and crankset woes. I dropped down to 8th place on the day knowing that I left a few minutes out there dealing with my stuck chain. Mechanicals are no fun, but I did manage to finish and book some points for the series.

I spent yesterday trying to iron out the woes of my JET drivetrain. I installed some zip ties to try and prevent the chain from coming up into that area. And I shortened the chain using the method of letting the air out of the rear suspension and making sure in the big/big combo I had an extra inch of chain. So far, so good out in the street - but so was the JET before the race. It's only in race like conditions that things like that seem to crop up. I think a more permanent solution is in the works than zip ties and chain length. I'm just waiting for the SRAM X.9 and X.0 level 2 x 10 drivetrains to be released as the XX is overkill price wise for my tastes and needs. Or I can convert one of my older Shimano XT triples to a 20/30/40 triple like on the RIP which works super. Or go Middleburn. Or come up with something that won't set me back an arm and a leg.

Time to get ready for the opera tonight...