Racing and Camping this weekend...

I'm in the middle of week 9 of my build, peak, and race program.  After 3 weeks off from racing, it returns this weekend with a choice of 2 venues.  The Nebraska Psycowpath Series has the Maskenthine MTB Classic outside of Norfolk, NE to begin the month of June on Saturday, and the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series has the always fun Bluff Riders Charge at the Mt. Kata ski area outside of Mankato, MN on Sunday. 

Last year I did both with a back to back race on a weekend.  We camped the 1st night at the state park in Nebraska, and drove to Mankato after the Psycowpath race and camped in a motel in Manakato.  That's just too much for these legs to take, so I will be choosing only 1 of the 2 races to do this weekend.  I am keeping on eye on the forecast to see which location looks to be the least sloppy from thunderstorms and rain showers, but did make a campground reservation in Mankato.  Our good friend Lisa Seidenkranz will go with us as we celebrate our first camping outing of the year and move out of the winter and cold spring depression.

I had a bit of a breakthrough training ride this past weekend on the RIP 9.


To get to that breakout ride, having a few weeks off from racing allowed me to use the trails for some important training rides I have not been able to do this spring thanks to the rain and cold.  The races have been the best training up to now, but I've been able to get some time in out at Lake Ahquabi the last couple of weeks.  The loop has all of the 30 second, 45 second, 1 minute, and 90 second power climbs on that course to get used to doing those power climbs, recovering, and hitting the next climb at full tilt and practice laps.  I've sort of been waiting with all of this training all spring for a "spark" or something to let me know it is all coming to fruition.

My last ride at Ahquabi it all "clicked".  Equipment was working.  Legs were working.  Mental focus was working.  I set a new personal best lap time in less than ideal conditions no less.  I hammered every climb and bounced back to hammer the next climb.  I managed to sustain this for 2 full race like laps.  It was one of those rides that brought relief for all the hours I have been dedicating to building up fitness since December 31st.  Whether or not that transfers to my racing remains to be seen, but it sure felt better than anything else at that level of effort I have done this year. 

I followed that up with an excellent weight training day on Monday, and a nice Zone 2 two hour ride on Tuesday to Carlisle and back with Tara.  Tara has really upped her stamina and Tuesday was the best ride she has had able to keep pace with me the full 2 hours.  She's starting to look like she is in good RAGBRAI shape.  The 40 miles rides we have been doing from Martensdale into Des Moines and back have been helping.   We need to up that to a 50+ mile ride (maybe do a Carlisle and back twice ride for 52 miles) before long.

Weight Issues

I can't say I haven't been eating whatever is in front of me, because it seems like I sure have.  Cookies, ice cream, chips, beer, wine, bread, etc... .  Because of that, my weight loss has stagnated and I have been "hovering" for 2 weeks right at 182-183. 

I've missed my goal of going sub 180 in May, but the amount of training hours has had me rather hunger and I've not calculated a calorie deficit very well.  My goal remains focused on hitting the 178 point, but it now looks like June will be the target to do that thanks to 2 1/2 weeks of stagnation/hovering at the same weight.

Last night, after a day that include 2 hours on the bike, 1 hour of mowing, and 30 minutes walking the dogs - the salad we had for dinner just didn't do it for me.  We were at Hy-Vee and I grabbed a pint of Ben & Jerry's new flavor "Chocolate Peppermint Crunch".   After we got home, Tara, Zack and I went at it with 3 spoons and seemed to be racing to see who got to the bottom of the pint first.  Man, is that new flavor good!!!!  I was about to eat the container as well to complete the binge.  Oh well, I guess I managed to eat at least 600 calories of that 1200 calorie pint in our "race" to get to the bottom.

I'll be doing a recovery ride this morning in hopes of burning some of those calories and getting me out of the sugar coma....


Memorial Day Weekend: the spring that wasn't continues...!

This will be a bit of a photo dump with a dose of eclectic subject matters about who knows what today?

Cold Spring

I actually had to wear my winter ski hat and gloves this morning for the dog walk due to temperatures being so cold with the wind chill.  Where the heck is or was spring this year?  We had a few days here and there that were nice, but the rest reminds me of the year without a spring in Vienna that we survived one year in the 90's when we lived there.  Spring was totally absent one year making it a very depressing transition from winter to summer.  Gray and cold until June.  That's what this year in Iowa reminds me of for 2013.

Oh well, summer will be here in a few weeks with a little bit of luck...

We did get some nice color out of the little crab apple tree in the front yard.


Tara posed with Zoey in the background the other morning before going off to work and I took the photo.  With the cool temperatures and thunderstorms this week, the color is now all gone.  Short lived for sure, but vivid while we had it.  The lilacs are next.

Prepping for the Weekend and Diving Right Into Memorial Day Weekend

I mowed on Friday, did a lot of trimming, garden work, cut back some of our hedges, and took on some of the bushes that were growing out of shape and too close to the house since it is going to be raining for about a week.  I had to get it done before the storms and what looks to be a week long run of biblical rains.

I also rode 2 laps at Lake Ahquabi on Friday and snapped a lot of branches in an effort to get the canopy in shape for Memorial Weekend hikers and bikers.  I really need to get out and lop things back a good 2 feet it is growing so fast.  Maybe this coming week....

We attended the year end IHS Track Awards banquet on Friday night and Alexa came away with lots of goodies, trophies and awards.  She headed off to Lake Okoboji for the weekend with her friend Emma for boating and fun.  Somehow, I doubt the cold temperatures and bad weather will make the boating and water as much fun as they had hoped to have.  Such is spring this year...

Tara and I attended the annual Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artists "Death By Aria" concert in the lobby of Blank Performing Arts Center on Saturday night after a quick dinner at La Casa.  We had a nice time listening to the 40 apprentice artists for the 2013 season sing their party pieces.  Zack is working for DMMO this summer on the house staff and has been busy making runs to the airport and train station to pick up the staff and artists.  He's also in the chorus for Romeo and Juliet which is fun if you know the story of Tara and I meeting in the chorus of Romeo and Juliet here with the Des Moines Metro Opera in Indianola during the summer of 1986.  What goes around, comes around - n'est-ce pas?

Memorial Weekend BBQ

I was up at 4 am this morning to load the brisket on the Big Green Egg for smoking.  It's a 7 pounder....


It should take 11 hours on the smoker, plus 4-6 wrapped in foil and newspaper in the cooler after that.  A 4 pound pastrami is going on at 11 am today and 2 chickens at 1 pm.  We have 12 eating dinner with us tonight for Memorial Day Weekend.  Mark, Lynn, Deb, Joel, John, Tina, Chuck, Gayla, Nancy, and Hugh will join us for a fun party tonight.  We'll have to eat inside since it is so cool and more thunderstorms are due this evening.

The Ladies on Graduation Day

Here's a snapshot of Tara and Alexa on graduation day in our living room...


Weekend Riding

In spite of the heavy rains we have had (about 2 inches yesterday), I am heading out to do a couple of laps at Lake Ahquabi after I load the pastrami in the Egg.  It will be a bit muddy/tacky, but c'est la vie.  I need to ride the hills and get some dirt time.  And besides, I like to play in the mud....  I don't even have to ask Mom for permission to do that!  ;-)

Update on the 7 pound brikset and 4 pound pastrami (2 chickens are now on the Egg)...


Looking good!


Industry Nine wheels to carbon rims?

Could my next wheel upgrade be converting my old I9 Enduro 29"er wheels with the old Flow rims to the Light Bicycle AM carbon rims?


It's possible and under consideration due to my Flows being pretty beat up from all these years and what appears to be an improper dishing in the rear wheel that needs attention.  The I9's are currently residing on my Karate Monkey as SS wheels.  It sounds like I could just use the same spokes and convert the wheels to have the Light Bicycle carbon rims according to a post I read at MTBR.com...

 I've re-built multiple sets of I9/Flow wheels with the LB rims with very good results. No mods nescessary to the rims, it's a reasonably sung fit but that's not a bad thing. I9's are incredibly easy to lace up and really no harder to tension than conventional wheels so the price to re-build should be the same as for any other wheelset. Because these rims are quite a bit stiffer than the Flows I was able to comfortably bring them up to slightly higher tension and that was helped by a tip I got from the guys at I9 to use bolied linseed oil to lubricate the spoke threads. I'd previously been using copper anti seize but I was getting some binding and spoke wind up at higher tension whereas the linseed oil seems to eliminate much of this problem - WayDownSouth on MTBR.com message boards 

Nice tip on the boiled linseed oil passed on from WayDownSouth from the I9 guys themselves.

Here is the result from another MTBR.com member's rim swap on his I9 Enduro wheels...



I had my I9s re-laced from the Flow rims to the Light-bicycle rims. I am happy with the results so far. The Flows and light-bike rims have a 2-3mm ERD difference, I was able to reuse my existing spokes. - tnrider

Not a high priority item on my list of "to do" items, but I've been thinking about a rebuild with new spokes and the new Flow rims for quite some time, but have been holding off due to the expense.  I might be able to do it with the carbon rims and eek out with the same spokes according to the above.  This would open up another great set of wheels for swapping around on my bikes as the I9 front hub has end caps for 15mm TA and 9mm QR.

Work and Riding

What was supposed to be 2 days of work (Monday and Tuesday) has now turned into 3 days of "academic year end work" with a music faculty meeting after lunch to take on "assessment".  YAWN!

Looks like this week is more of a maintenance and recovery week.  Lots of Zone 2 miles have been prescribed and the weather has turned a bit cold again where I need to layer up for rides.  A trip to the Apple store is due later this afternoon to get Alexa all set up for college...



It's been a very busy week since my last post.  I got the house ready for our visiting family guests.  Then we spent 3 days at the Iowa High School State Track Meet to watch Alexa run in her 4 events held at the Drake Stadium, spent the weekend attending Indianola High School Graduation parties, tilled up and planted our garden, and attended my daughter's graduation from Indianola High School on Sunday.

I must say, it is a bit of a milestone as you attend the last high school event your youngest child will participate in before moving on with life.  We didn't seem too saddened about it as no tears flowed, but we certainly considered and weighed the pivotal moment that it is.  Maybe it just hasn't hit us yet.  Who knows?  It feels right if that is the correct way to voice it.

Tara managed to snap a shot of Alexa as the seniors processed into the new Field House (thank you Casey Blake for funding the building of the Field House!!!) in Indianola.  It's an excellent brand new facility which worked well for the inaugural graduation with the class of 2013 getting to take advantage of the new facility.  No longer will IHS have to use the Simpson facilities to hold their graduation.

Congratulations to Alexa on her graduation from high school!


Alexa seems to be happy this moment has arrived and is looking forward to college this fall.  She wasn't tearing up or weepy and almost seemed relieved.  She will be attending the University of Iowa to major in international business and French.  I know the day we take her to Iowa and drop her off will be a huge milestone for us.  I can guarantee tears from me.  '-)

She was all smiles holding her diploma after it was all over...


Alexa wanted to go to the Japanese restaurant Appare in Urbandale for her post graduation dinner.  So we drove up in two cars and had the group party platter before heading back to Indianola to attend more graduation parties.  In the middle of one party we were attending down the street, an announcement was made by the host that bad weather was just about to hit and everyone needed to seek shelter.  The party dispersed and we made it home before the 1st night of severe storms (including tornado activity) hit Iowa for the 2013 storm season.

After the worst of the storm had blown over and the tornado watches and warmings were over, Alexa then boarded the bus at the high school around 9:30 pm to attend "Project Graduation".  She said she had a lot of fun at the party.  After only a few hours of sleep, her Aunt Becky treated her to a spa on Monday in Des Moines.  I think the combination of the State Track Meet taking all of her year end focus, landing a new summer job, graduation, the post graduation party and the spa on Monday all added to the mix to make her final high school days a very pleasant and joyous experience.

On Monday afternoon while everyone was out of the house, my father fell in our kitchen and banged up his face and knee.  I got called out of a faculty meeting to go home and Tara had just arrived before me and managed to get him off the floor to tend to his wounds.  His eyeglasses cut up his face from the fall and he was bleeding.  After that was cleaned up, we put ice on his knee and face to take the swelling down.  He had fallen asleep while seated at our high top kitchen table watching TV and fell out of the tall chair onto the wooden floor while asleep.   Not suprisingly, after an event like that, he was tuckered out and fell asleep on our couch where he slept for a good hour or more.  He's going to be okay, but will be stiff today and tomorrow.

We made pizza for dinner while we settled in for a 2nd night of severe storms and headed to the basement as the winds moved through our area at 8:40 last night.  Tis the season and Oklahoma got hit hard with either a massive F4 or F5 that caused severe damage and death.  Thoughts and prayers to all those in Oklahoma that suffered losses.


I have managed to sneak in most of my training rides the past 5 days, but did miss my scheduled weekend ride on Saturday with the track meet, family visiting, cooking, attending graduation parties, etc... .   I even managed to hook up with Al Boone, Bob Matthews, and Kevin (from Winterset) on Thursday night to do trail work out at Lake Ahquabi.  Al brought his chainsaw and we did one full loop to hit all of the felled trees (about dozen) and clear most of the face slappers. 

I did a short 60 minute, but high intesnisty ride on Sunday with Zack.  We pretty much raced most of the way and he schooled me on the final sprint to home with his massive legs and power going up the hill.  He's been riding the exericise bike all year long to stay in shape and this was only his 3rd or 4th ride outside on his Allez for the year due to weather, school and the trip to Spain.  No matter - he blew the dust off and was sailing as we kept it in Zone 4 the entire way and went full out the final 5 minutes.  It pretty much qualified as a race effort in my book.

I skipped Monday's weights due to everything else going on, but should get back on schedule with than on Wednesday.  Thankfully, Zack mowed the lawn Monday evening and finished just as the storm hit.  So that chore is out of the way and should be good until Thursday when it will need mowing again with all of the rain we are getting.



94 degrees on Tuesday was screaming for Zack and I to head out for our first 18 holes together after a spring that wouldn't allow it.  Zack had been to the driving range a couple of times and I think even played 9 holes at some point, but I hadn't touched a club since last season.

We both got our morning workouts in on the bike.  He hopped on the exercise bike in the basement to keep cool, and I headed out to Lake Ahquabi to use the hills for my interval training.

I took the RIP 9 wiht the Renegade 2.3's and the 1 x 9 drivetrain.  The grass still had dew on it, but the dirt was fine with the usual mud spots still there.  What slowed me down was a bit of a surprise.  Nearly a dozen trees are down and across the trail as enough moisture has fallen and wind to knock the trees out of the soft soil conditions.  It's been too muddy for the DNR to get back in the trails with their equipment - not to mention their limited staff is relegated to mowing grass at the moment.  I'll head out Thursday with Al Boone with his chainsaw to hit the felled trees.

After we both showered and got suited up in our golf duds, we decided to play at Deer Run here in Indianola since we knew there would not be a line at the starting tee box and we could play on our own for our first round knowing we would be hacking it up.  In other words, we wouldn't have to yell FORE at all of our errant shots since the course would be empty on a week day.  Sure enough, our opening drives were not things of beauty.  Two duck hooks and other woes to work the kinks out.  The wind was howling making going against it difficult, but it sure was fun hitting with it for massive drives!!!  It was a typical first round of the season.  Lots of bogeys and double bogeys, and I think I only had 4 pars on the day.  In other words, I was in the 90's which fits for the 1st round of the year.  It's always hard for me, knowing the scores I used to shoot when I put a lot of time into keeping my game in tip top shape.  I also know how much work that takes and I'm not willing to do it, so I simply enjoy playing without practice at this point in my life.  And being out their with my son is a bonus.

The final hole we had our best drives of the day.  I roped mine straight down the middle for about 275 yards and felt pretty confident that in the round of 18 holes, I had found my swing again and was ready for the season.  Zack stands up and smacks a massive hit with his driver to land on the green for a 315 yard drive and a putt at an eagle on the par 4.  That was humbling since I put everything I had into mine, but his massive strength from smacking home runs in baseball transfers to how far he can hit the golf ball.  He just needs some lessons and guidance - especially on his short game.  We headed home where I promptly showed my age and took an hour nap.

Today is a recovery ride on the road bike, some lower body weights and then I head into the office to teach lessons for the afternoon.   State Track Meet on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for Alexa.  Followed by graduation on Sunday.  Lots of house cleaning to go in the next 48 hours to get ready....


Rohloff Chain Guide (clearer shots) and my camera has returned from Spain!

Zack arrived home last night from Spain and seemed to have enjoyed the trip (although he had been up for about 2 days and was tuckered out).  So, too, did my camera arrive home.  I guess the good news is that US Cellular has caved in and will be adding the iPhone to their phone options for customers sometime this summer.  I might have to nibble at that and upgrade from the old flip phone...

Here are some clearer shots of the Rohloff chain guide on the RIP 9...



Full shot of the RIP 9 with the Renegade 2.3's front and rear...


The bike is 27.27 pounds as pictured.

Having spent the fall/winter doing a lot of singlespeeding and clearing all the climbs in a much tougher gear than the granny on this RIP, I'm content to leave it as is.

In an effort to making it a bit more XC race worthy with a high cadence bail out gear, I could see the value of getting a larger rear granny cog.  Several ways to skin that cat.  It could be accomplished via a 11-36T rear 9 speed cassette; adding a single granny cog like a 38T or a 41 Tooth cog and removing the 11T cog to the current configuration; or the most expensive path via upgrading to 10 speed or 11 speed.  The  Rotor Q Ring will work with 9, 10, or 11 speed - so that's fine.  Right now, I'll just enjoy it as it is, but keep my options open if I want to widen the granny gearing range. 

Mother's Day worked out fine here.  Alexa and I arranged something we thought Tara would really enjoy.  We decided to have Tara and I ride to Mullets from Martensdale on the Great Western Trail and Alexa would drive to Mullets, get a table for us and be waiting with flowers and a card.  Of course, I had to sort of give it away to Tara what we were doing.  I told her to suit up in layers since it was only about 50 degress as we were riding to Mullets for Mother's Day Lunch.  I had not planned on the wind being out of the north, so it was a cold windy ride all the way to Mullets and Tara shared her disdain for the lack of warm weather (which we are all sick of at this point).  Of course, tomorrow's forecast of it being in the 90's will immediately have everyone complaining it is too hot.

We got to Mullets about 1:20, had a wonderful lunch and the flowers were beautiful.  All the waitresses stopped by to admire the arrangement Alexa had picked out.  Zack called from the Chicago airport when they landed from Spain to wish Tara a happy mothers' day and it all worked out perfectly.  After lunch,  we loaded Tara's bike into the back of Alexa's car and they headed off to the mall for some Mom's Day Shopping.  I got on my bike and rode back to Martensdale (it took 20 minutes less time thanks to a tailwind) and got home in time to watch Tiger Woods earn another win.

Today - mowing, trimming, weeding, garden work and weights.  I want to get all of that done before the hot weather arrives tomorrow.


Psycowpath #2 Race Report - Platte River Battle Royale!

Saturday was the 2nd XC race for the 2013 season in the Nebraska Psycowpath series.  The Tranquility Tire Tantrum that was rescheduled and canceled again is on hold for now.  I was looking forward to this race for two reasons.  One, it came at the end of a rest week within a build phase so I was feeling fresh and strong.  Two - it was a new place to ride for me as I have never been to the Platte River State Park before.  The weather was perfect for a race, sunny and temperatures in the high 50's to low 60's, the trail was said to be in tip top condition. 

Tara had asked to ride along with me to this race and she was going to "hang out, ride her bike, hike" while I was out racing.  Thus was the plan for our 3 hour drive over to Nebraska on Saturday morning...

Medical Malady woes created by a change in routine...

This explanation is to set up "what happened".

I recently had a lung function test performed at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines as I switched doctors after 10 years due to our family physician moving from Indianola to practice in Des Moines.  My new doctor orderd the lung function test since I haven't had one in about 14 years (last time was in Vienna).  I have asthma along with my allergies and my new doctor wanted the test so she could carry on with my prescriptions from my prior doctor.  The test was fine and showed what I already knew and had been confirmed in prior tests:  the inhaler improves my lung function.  No big news there, but the new doctor wanted the tests performed so she could continue with my care.  She wrote the new prescriptions for Singulair and the inhaler.

I was using 2 inhalers in Austria, but when I moved to Iowa was able to switch to Singulair as my main management medicine for asthma/allergy.  There are fewer trees here than in the Vienna Woods and the doctor suggested I give it a try.  It is a daily pill and I was prescribed back in 2003 an inhaler for emergency only and it is aptly called a "rescue inhaler".  I rarely use it (like maybe 1-2 times a year if even).  Usually, it is after something has stirred up tightness in my breathing.  Maybe a cold.  Maybe exercise in freezing weather that kicks in my asthma.  Maybe after raking fall leaves.  That sort of thing.

My routine has not been to use the inhaler for exercise, but rely on the 24 hour dose of Singulair to manage for me.  I do, on occasion, feel constricted with my breathing after a race, but usually by the time I go to bed or get home from the drive after a race I am back to normal.  Or normal enough that I don't feel the need to use the rescue inhaler.  So, pretty much no need for the rescue inhaler in my routine.  This has been my routine for ten years and it has worked.

I mention all of that to set up what happened on Friday evening.

Tara and I were headed up to Des Moines for dinner and to see the opening of The Great Gatsby movie showing at the Fleur Theater.  Tara was getting her hair cut and it took a bit longer than we thought, so while I was waiting for her to come home the phone rang.  Normally, I wouldn't pick it up because the caller ID said "toll free number".  What the heck, I picked it up expecting to get some sales pitch or survey or who knows what - maybe a dial tone once the robocall computer heard my voice.  Instead, it was a consultation call from my health care provider.  It seems my lung function test kicked in a mandatory call to set me up on the network to receive a quarterly newsletter about asthma and 2-4 annual calls to check on me as well as my management of the asthma with my medicine.  Long story short, I was on the phone about 30 minutes with the nurse going over my history and the end result was, she highly recommended that I take 2 puffs of my rescue inhaler before I race (30 minutes prior).  If Tara had come home 5 minutes earlier, I would have missed the call and been fine...

It sounded crazy to me to change the routine that has been working.  I am intelligent enough to know to stick with what works and not try something new on race day - but I did what I was told.  Big mistake.

I arrived at Platte River State Park about an hour before my race, got my number plate, suited up and began my warm-up which is key for one with asthma to do a slow, long warm-up.  I had parked right next to the horse stable (I'm very allergic to those critters) and low and behold, about 30 of them were standing around stirring up dust.  With the wind gusting - all the dust and smell of horses had my allergies going into panic mode.  I quickly got on the bike to get away from that.  When it got to be 30 mintues prior to race start, I pulled out the inhaler and did my 2 instructed puffs with a minute between each.  I have to admit, I felt the lungs open right up and things seemed fine from that standpoint.  So I completed my warm-up and headed over to the starting line area.

This was to be a running start (Le Mans style).  It's never anyone's favorite, but c'est la vie.  Off we ran to the bikes...


I had placed my bike nearer the front of the "pile" and those who had bikes in the rear of the "pile" nearly ran me over as I tried to get to my bike and mount it.  Two racers got tangled up and fell over and the thought runs through your mind "Is a Le Mans style start really worth it?"  Off we went and although I had not ridden any of the course, everyone told me it opened with a doubletrack climb that sort of went on and on.  I settled in line and hit the climb.  Not knowing how long it was, I was cautious not to crank too hard and blow up on the climb, but once we crested it I realized I could have hit it a lot harder than I did.  That's what you get for not doing a pre-ride.

I was somewhere mid-pack and the lead group of CAT 2 racers was gone.  I was keeping it in the big ring (38T) of my 2 x 9 and feeling fine.  I did a lot of out of saddle on the climbs to work that group of muscles first as I knew I would be seated for the latter half of the race grinding out the climbs.  I eventually started passing, but felt something wasn't right.  I felt a wave of nausea that just about knocked me off the bike.  I looked down at my heart rate on the wrist watch and saw it was about 15 beats higher than I had ever seen it.  WTF???!!!  From then on in the race, I was fighting nausea like I never have before on the bike.  If I pushed it like my legs were capable of doing for Zone 4 and 5 - I would get such a wave of nausea, that I felt like pulling over and ducking behind a tree to heave ho.

This is not how I felt in my warm-up at all before I sucked on the inhaler.   It had to be the inhaler - or a side effect from it.  Dang!  I knew I should have ignored the advice to use it.

So for me, my racing had to switch over to survival mode.  Rats!!  And this was a fun course!!!  Perfect trail conditions, excellent blend of technical climbs, fun factor turns and twists - everything you want in a race course.  But I had shot myself in the foot with the inhaler.  At the end of lap one, I waved to Tom (the photographer) and managed a smile more or less to say this one was painful thanks to my nausea.


As I rounded the finish line for lap 2, I bumped it up a notch to see if I could just ride through the nausea.  I was able to catch and pass two riders on the opening climb as I stayed seated in the 27T ring and spun out a high cadence.  I crested the climb, shifted to the big ring and shot off pushing a good race pace.  I felt the nausea wave again, but didn't give in.....at least at first.  This lasted for only about 400 yards or so and a 1/2 dozen short little climbs.  The nausea won and the heart rate was sky high.  Not good.  I had to back off and use the little ring to wimp my away around the course.  At this point, I just wanted to finish for the sake of finishing and use it as a learning experience.  But I also wanted to hop off the bike and puke.  I couldn't decide which to do!

Bottom line:  The nausea certainly made it "feel like" one of the worst days on the bike for me.  Thanks to the silly inhaler that was supposed to prevent any problems from an asthma flare up, I believe it limited my performance and at times, I was barely able to turn the cranks over in my granny gears on climbs that didn't warrant it thanks to an off the charts heart rate and the nausea it created.

Just before crossing the line after enduring something that could have easily been prevented had I just stuck to my usual routine and medication.


I rolled across the line in 4th place for the old guys and rode immediately over to my jacket to put it on and shiver out my nausea.  I went to the car, changed into my driving clothes then took the chip back to the registration tent.  My heart rate dropped down enough that the nausea subsided and I was actually able to eat some post race food.  Kudos to the race crew as in spite of my nausea - I certainly enjoyed the venue and the trail.  That's some fun singletrack and a really pretty ride to boot.

Dumbfounded by the medical experiment, but not surprised - I went home and sure enough, used Google to uncover many reports of the side effects my particular inhaler can cause.  Nausea and high heart rate are at the top of the list along with headache.  I also had the shakes and jitters last night before going to bed which is not good.  I will inform my doctor and do what I have done the past 10 years - leave it at home in the medicine cabinet.

Lesson learned.  I'm happy to have survived the "experiment".  I'm hoping to be back to normal come the next race (3 weeks away after the next build phase).


District Track Meet results for Alexa means she is going on to the State Track Meet!!!

Monday night was the 4A Conference Track Meet at Des Moines East High School, and last night was the 4A District Track Meet at Johnston High School.  So we have been busy this week attending track meets.  Districts determines who gets to go on to participate in the State Track Meet next weekend at Drake University.  The top two finishers in every event qualify for the State Track Meet from each District meet.  So Alexa went into the meet with desire and nerves.

Nerves?  She has only run the 100 meter dash one time this season and broke a meet record while doing it.  The coaches wanted her to run it at the Districts yesterday - so she was nervous and wanted to do well.  She ran the event in Middle School and was top 2 in the state for two years, so after not being in track during 9th, 10, and 11th grades due to a dislocated knee and the subsequent rehab to tackle that, had set her back and got her into soccer and cross country instead - it is really fun to see her run sprints again and excel in an event she was so good at back in Middle School.

Here she is running pre-lims at State in 2008 (taking it easy, running just hard enough to be in the top 4 to qualify for finals, but not so hard that she would drain the tank and not be at her best for the finals)

100 Meter Preliminaries at State

All smiles and braces back in 2008 after running so well...

Alexa at State

Sorry there are no pictures from last night.  I will have my camera back next week for State so I can get some new ones!

There were 2 heats of the 100 meter dash and Alexa was in the 2nd heat (the fastest heat).  She gave it her all and really wanted it badly as she poured it on - especially in the final 20 meters and took 2nd place about a stride behind 1st place to qualify for State!!  She and her coaches (and parents) were excited to say the least.  She thinks she could have warmed up better as she said she felt faster in her later events.  She runs at State on Thursday morning at 9 am in this event, so we'll be up early getting her breakfast and she will do a proper warm-up to be ready to go that early in the morning.

Next up was the 4 x 200 and Alexa was running anchor for the relay team.  The 1st handoff of the baton was terrible as the 2nd girl had to actually stop, stand and wait for the baton as adrenaline had her taking off so fast the 1st girl couldn't catch her before the elimination line.  The 2nd handoff was smooth.  Alexa suffered the same fate of adrenaline forcing her to have to slow down and wait for the baton to take it in the allowed zone.  But once she had it, she ran her best 200mm segment of the year shaving off a full 2 seconds from her best 200m time.  Wow!  Way to go!  She took the team from 4th place when she got the baton and about 5 meters from the finish line passed the 2nd place girl (from Valley) and just as Alexa passed her, the girl from Valley leaned forward to lengthen her stride and fell face fist to the track not crossing the line.  Her baton bounced off the surface and flew right in front of Alexa's face (Alexa had to swivel to avoid getting hit) and the 1st place girl fell across the line to the ground.  Alexa remained upright, in her lane and snagged 2nd place - qualifying for State!!  Quite an exciting finish to that race that had the crowd to its feet and hushed in silence with the 2 girls falling at or near the line. 

Her 3rd event was the Sprint Medley (she runs one of the 100m segments).  Great baton handoffs on all exchanges and both Emma and Alexa ran their 100m segments like the wind (they were actually running their segments against a stiff wind) and had us in 2nd place going into the 200mm segment.  The final handoff was clean and the girls crossed the line and qualified for State!!

The final event Alexa was in would be the 4 x 100 relay.  It's usually the most exciting event to see 4 full out 100 meter dashes in a row with perfectly timed handoffs.  If you blink, you miss it.  They were DQ'd on Monday at the Conference meet for a bad handoff that crossed the line, so they were careful at Districts not to make that mistake.  Alexa was the anchor running the final segment and she had a bit of distance to make up when she got the baton to close the gap and get us into contention.  Again, she poured it on and passed 2 girls grabbing 2nd place and qualifying for State!!

Wow - 4 out of her 4 events qualified!  Tara made the comment that she wondered what would have happened if Alexa had been running track the past 3 years instead of playing soccer.  I said, it doesn't matter.  She did well in spite of it.

On to State...

You are only allowed to run in 4 events at State - so she is doing the maximum number of events allowed for an athlete.  Based on her excellent 200m run, I wouldn't be surprised if they switch her in the Sprint Medley from the 100m to the 200m segment as that is where our relay lost a bit of time.  But we shall see.  The good news is that it was a great night that we will not forget.  She was on Cloud 9 afterwards and Tara and I are very proud of her accomplishment - no matter what happens at State. 


Rohloff Chainguide Success!!!

After researching what chainguide would work best with my RIP 1 x 9 and the particular chainline of having to run the Rotor Q Ring 34T on the outer ring of an XT triple crank, it looked like the Roholff German technology would be the ticket.

The guide arrived in the mail today and I figured out the puzzle of assembling it this morning and went out to the garage to mount it up.  It took one spacer less than the instruction manual said I would need based on the measured chainline, but c'est la vie.  Or rather so ist das Leben since we are speaking about a German product here.

I weighed the contraption in the current state (before I decide if I do any machining a la Jeff Jones) and came up with 66g.  Not bad.  I could possibly machine off about 20-25g of that if I had a drill press.

I did the micro-adjustment to get it so the chain neither rubbed in the large rear cog or the small rear cog, tightened up the bolts and gave it a test out on the street.  PURRRRRRFECT.

There were concerns that the cable stop for the front derailleur would be in the way on the RIP 9 frame, but the chain guide fits perfectly on the seat tube just below the cable stop for the 34T Rotor Q Ring.  If the ring were larger, the chain guide would have to go above the cable stop.  Looks like a 36 or 38T would require that, but the 34T is snug and handsome under the cable stop on the RIP.  Sweet....

Here's a pair of photographs I shot on my old Samsung flip phone...



Talk about a lousy camera and fuzzy, out of focus photography!!!  Like I said, my digital camera is in Spain with Zack and will be coming home next week.  Now you know why I don't take photographs with my old flip phone.

Monday - I hit the basement gym to work on the lower body with weights, and followed up with 90 minuutes of Iowa gravel riding on the Roubaix for recovery on the bike following Sunday's race.  We went to Alexa's conference track meet at East and her Sprint Medley relay won conference champs, but the 4 x 100 had an illegal baton pass and was disqualified (not Alexa's exchange luckily).

Tuesday - I started out with correct intentions of a scheduled recovery ride, but ended up doing a massive interval uphill against the wind for reasons unbeknownst to me.  Fail on the recovery ride aspect of it as I fell into the trap of trying to chase down a roadie.  My bad.  Stick to plan and ignore all others, right?  When I got home from the ride, I mowed the lawn to take advantage of the dry warmth before rain hit on Wednesday/Thursday.  I was physically cooked by the end of the day before we went to senior/parent night for the Girl's Track Meet where we were to appear with Alexa down on the field where they honored the seniors and their parents.

Wednesday - Took the day off due to my crazy interval yesterday (and the mowing) as I taught lessons and had a rehearsal for a funeral.  Installed the Rohloff instead before going to work.

We will be going to the district track meet at Johnston Thursday night to watch Alexa run.  Alexa will be running the 100 meter dash, 4 x 200, 4 x 100, and Sprint Medley.  Hopefully she will qualify for the state track meet at Drake next weekend in at least one or more of those events. 

Update on my satisfaction with the Specialized Roubaix....

This bike has now been ridden for 6 weeks on the majority of my training rides.  It is such a compliant, comfortable frame that I have no complaints.  The tires that are 25mm wide are good on pavement, but also great on gravel!!  I did experiment with the stem in terms of flip and flop, but settled on the stem flipped positive for a little more of comfort road ride which has been just what I wanted and needed.  I also have raised the seat a bit from this photo to dial in my preferred position.


I never thought I would have so much fun on a "road bike", but this critter is a great machine.  First of all, it fits like a glove.  It handles well, absorbs the bumps and with the more relaxed geometry is a pain free experience whether I am doing 1, 2, 3, 4 or more hours.  I am equally comfortable in the drops, on the flats, or on the hoods with the way I have it set up.  It is stable, stiff and has me coming back for more day after day.  The real test will be RAGBRAI in terms of endurance and duration for miles/hours, but that's a lot of time on any kind of a bike to be totally pain free.  Specialized's new 2013 upgrade to this frame is a home run in my estimation and I couldn't be happier.  I'm not sure I should even call it a road bike it is so comfortable and compliant. 


IMBCS #2 Race Report - Camp Ingawanis

Ma Nature certainly made this past week dramatic!

Monday, the lawn was mowed with temperatures in the 80's.  A nice long bike ride was had afterwards and Tuesday followed suit also in the 80's.

Wednesday I taught lessons and the weather was "meh".  The bad weather started to arrive Wednesday evening and the temperatures dropped down into winter.

Thursday & Friday we set a record for the most snow in May here in Iowa.  We broke the 1947 record.  I'm not sure what we ended up with in Indianola for a final tally, but it was 6-9" by my view when I went out to shovel it.  Heavy, wet snow that was hard to push and lift.  The dogs loved it.  I hated it.  For that matter, I think every sane person hated it.

It wasn't only here in Iowa that spring has been missing...

Minnesota canceled the opening race of their mountain bike series that was to have been at Buck Hill on Sunday, May 5th.  Wisconsin closed their opening race on May 5th because it was to be held on a ski slope and they were still skiing on that slope in late April!!!

Wors delay

Nebraska had rescheduled the Tranquility Tire Tantrum from April 20th to this weekend on Saturday, May 4th.  Due to the snow and wet, it was moved to Sunday, May 5th.  After the snow and rain wouldn't let up enough for the trail to dry out, it was officially canceled until later in the season - if at all.  Wow!  3 Midwest Mountain Bike Series (2 of them that have always raced rain or shine) had to pull the plug due to a lack of SPRING!!!  That's got to be a record, but it fits the weather pattern we are having this year.

That left our IMBCS #2 race as the only race this weekend that was going to forge ahead and give it a go.  None of us in Central Iowa believed it could actually take place after what we had been through with the snow and the rain.  It was hard to envision that it had not snowed or rained as much in the Janesville/Waverly area as it had here in the Des Moines Metro area.  But, sure enough, Ma Nature was much nicer to the Camp Ingawanis area and the soil there has enough sand that it was ready to go for Sunday's race.  Game on!!!
This week was the final week of my Build Two Phase and my legs were worked.  More so than they should have been as I added some Zone 2 work to fight the prior week's bad eating.  In addition, I swapped around some workouts due to my schedule, so I didn't get as much rest as I would have liked going into the weekend.  I felt cooked, but wasn't worried as I am focused on the larger goal.  Shoveling the snow on Friday was a heck of a workout and taxed my legs, back, arms, neck, chest.  And then I did some Zone 4 work that I had skipped on Thursday as I really figured all races would be canceled this weekend.  My bad!

Friday night was the Opera Ball for Des Moines Metro Opera and I was out late that night drinking far too much wine at the event, and I didn't sleep too well as a result.   Saturday night was an even worse night of sleep due to parental/teenager issues.  Suffice it to see, that not much sleep was had due to concerns and dealing with a situation my daughter experienced.

In spite of that - or becaues of that - I was up bright and early on Sunday to race.  My original plan for the race season that I mapped out, had me scheduled to do the race in Minnesota.  When that got canceled, the Psycowpath Race was next in my pecking order.  When that got canceled, I decided to head over to Waverly for the IMBCS race.  I packed up and headed out the door about 8:50 Sunday morning.  I stopped in Story City for gas and pulled into the south parking lot of Camp Ingawanis at 11:11.  That gave me an hour to register, get suited up, warm up and get my drink mix made.

I brought the RIP 9 for this race as I really wanted to try out the 1 x 9 gearing and figured if it was a mudfest, the single ring up front would be less of a mess than my JET in terms of mud collection.  I put the front derailleur on to act as a chain retention device until my Rohloff guide comes this week.  Remember - no new pictures to show all of this until my camera comes back from Spain.

Here's a shot before the conversion to 1 x 9 that I took when I mounted up the Renegade 2.3 in the rear.  (See edit below on the growth in casing width for the 2.3 Renegade)


I got the tire pressure dialed and headed out for a 20-25 minute warm up.  The sun was shining and temperatures were climbing above 60 degrees.  From the bikes that I saw that had been out on the singletrack for a sample lap, there was not enough mud building up on the bikes to worry about it.  In fact, there was only one little section near the race finish that was muddy.  And it was a temporary section to take us from the singletrack to the grassy open clearing of the parking lot.  More on that mud later...

Landon Beachy was there, so I knew it would be another chase like it was at Sylvan Island with me trying to keep up with him.  He's in great shape and riding smooth this year.  Off the line, Landon was top spot or two and I was back about 7th or 8th out of the CAT II field.  I got stuck behind a slower racer and he bobbled on the first steep, techincal climb which forced all of us off of our bikes to hike the hill.  I ran around him and remounted to take off.  I didn't panic, but I wanted to fill the gap left between the lead group and the group I was in as quickly as possible.  I was in the lead of this 2nd group and went to great efforts to pull in the lead group in front of us that Landon was in.  I finally let the guy behind me come to the front and take a turn at trying to close the gap as I was getting gassed after about 10 minutes.  Lap one was all about trying to close that gap, but I couldn't do it alone.  The guy I let around me finally made it up to Landon, but I couldn't quite get there.

The RIP with the single 34T chainring up front is a fun bike, but I found myself wishing I had my usual race bike (the JET 9).  The 34T ring up front with the 34T granny cog in the rear was enough for the steep climbs, but I found myself pushing taller gears all the time and it took a toll on me as the bike fought the soft, tacky trail conditions.  My legs were pooped from the training week, but I kept forcing myself to move ahead.  At the end of the lap, the 75 yards or so of deep, soft mud we had to ride through was like a Zone 5 or Zone 6 interval to move the pedals through.  Ouch!!  That was painful, but we all had to do it. 

Lap 2 had me see that the gap was growing between Landon and I.  It actually grew to about 2 minutes as we neared the end of the race and my legs gave up the ghost.  All I could do was try to fight to hold 2nd place in my age group.  The RIP is an absolute joy on descents and over roots, bumps, jumps, rocks.  That's where it shines.  I rolled across the line good enough for 2nd Place in my age group, but pretty much tuckered out with cooked legs.  I immediately headed out for a 35 minute cool-down ride on the gravel to enjoy the breeze and countryside.  It was nice and warm in the 70's now with the sun providing plenty of warmth.  The spin down felt really good and I headed back to the parking lot to change, get cleaned up and hit the pasta.

Quite a few of us made the trip over from Des Moines, so everyone caught up and enjoyed a nice respite from the long winter as we were amazed by the conditions, hard work of the race crew, and fun on mountain bikes we had all just participated in.   Lots of riders from Rassy's and Bike Iowa. Kyle Sedore was rocking his Surly Krampus and the big tires and singlespeed.  TJ Fort was on his Spearfish.  Kevin Betters his new Air RDO.  And on and on.  The main takeaway is that we were all happy to be out riding some nice tacky dirt and racing after a week of miserable weather.

Kudos to Alan Johnson and his crew for hosting a great event that everyone really enjoyed.  There was nothing but smiles from everyone afterwards. 

Podium for the 50+ group was Landon, myself and Andre.


After the awards ceremony, I hopped in the car and drove all the way home without stopping.  I was fighting a nap thanks to the fresh air and not sleeping well the night before thanks to Alexa, but managed to stay awake.

Edit:  Cleaning up the bike today, I measured the width of the Renegade 2.3 to see if any growth took place after the pounding a race provides.  Sure enough, the casing width has expanded now to 58.3mm which is 2.2952756".  You can't get much closer to 2.3"!!!!


1 x 9? Me? Really?

You can call me jaded when it comes to following the trend in drivetrains.  I certainly haven't tried it all, but I've done a few.  Triples?  Yup.  Doubles?  Yup.  3 speed?   Yup.  5 speed?  Yup.  10 speed?  Yup.  Singlespeed?  Yup.  And quite a few things between all of that over the years.

However, I have never tried a dedicated 1 x 9 on any of my mountain bikes.  I certainly like the look and reports of the SRAM XX1 which is a 1 x 11 speed drivetrain with a huge range cassette in the year, and a chain/ring design that when coupled with the clutch derailleur allows one to run it without a chain retention device on the front ring.  The 1 x 10's intrigued me as well, but they only go up to a 36T rear granny cog which wasn't enough of a difference from my 34T on the 9 speed to warrant an "upgrade" to try it out just yet.  There are plenty of chain retention devices that qualify as butt ugly - IMO - and can weigh as much as, if not more than, the front derailleur it replaces.  But that's another issue.

I ran into Tom Anderson and Katherine Roccasecca at Center Trails a couple of weeks ago and they were both going on and on about their 1 x __ drivetrains.  Tons of posts and threads at MTBR.com on the 1 x 9, 1 x 10, 1 x 11 drivetrain with folks going on and on about their holy grails of shifting.  I actually had purchased a Rotor Q Ring 34T singlespeed ring a few years ago with the idea in mind to convert one of my bikes to 1 x 9, or run it on a singlespeed.  However, the BCD of that ring is 104mm and even though the older Shimano XT M752 Octalink triple crank is a 104mm BCD for the middle and large rings, the slot for the middle ring has some odd proprietary shaping not allowing it to take any ring outside of what was specially designed for it back then (a Shimano middle ring for the M752).  So my Rotor Q Ring did not fit in the middle slot without me taking out a Dremel and going to town on the crank's spider to make it work.  "To heck with it", I thought at the time and let the Rotor Q Ring gather dust in the parts bin as I couldn't use it on the large chainring slot and get a decent chainline on the Karate Monkey for singlespeeding.  I wasn't going to spend money on a new crankset just to try it out and shelved the idea thinking maybe someday I would get a crank it would fit on and try it out on one of my mountain bikes.

After running into Tom and Katherine and hearing them go on and on and on with their "blah, blah, blah, it's easier, blah, blah, I don't have to think, blah, blah, blah, it's lighter, blah, blah, blah......" and the usual regurgiated banter of a 1 x __ drivetrain convert - I headed out to Ahquabi with the RIP 9 on Tuesday to lay down my interval laps.

Tom's comment - which I've heard before on the message boards for 1 x __ drivetrains and singlespeeders - always ignites a sarcastic thought response from me when I hear it --- "the best part about it is - you don't have to think".  Please!  We're talking about a generation that drives a car while reading a book, checking out a map or GPS, texting, carrying on a conversation, fiddling with the satellite radio to get our favorite music, reading all the signs, staying observant, eating a snack or meal all at the same time without missing a beat.  Are you telling me that riding a bike up or down a hill requires so much of a thought process that you really have to spend oodles of brain power to think about shifting the chain to a certain ring with the front derailleur that it becomes this monumental and difficult mental task?  Tom - I'm going to call you out on that the next time I see you.  ;-)  Anyway, I hear the same thing on singlespeed boards or talking to riders "you don't have to think", "there's no maintenance", "it's all so easy", "simplicity" and on and on and on and regurgitated on it goes.

Okay, so I'm not mentally challenged when it comes to operating my two thumbs, or my two hands to twist the grip shifter into another gear if my legs and lungs inform me that I cannot produce that amount of wattage for another pedal revolution or two.  I've been shifting gears on bikes for so many decades, I don't think any thought is ever required at this point.  But I do subscribe to the new 1 x 10 and 1 x 11 drivetrains covering nearly the full gamut of gearing choices needed in a more compact package that are starting to make a lot of sense to me.  I just don't want to pony up the $1250 it costs to go full SRAM XX1 1 x 11. 

What do I use for gearing most of the time once I am in shape and the season is "in season"?

I pretty much leave my chain in the big ring of the JET 9 (a 38T Rotor Q Ring) in an XC race for I'd say 80% of the courses.  I do the same on the RIP 9 and leave it in the 40 T on my triple for most of the race at a place like Lake Ahquabi, Sylvan, Swanson, Center Trails, etc... .  Now, this is not true at some of the more severe climbing courses or something like an endurance event the likes of the Bone Bender or the Dakota Five-0.  A granny/granny combo feels like torture by the end of those events.  In spite of that, for the most part in the Midwest, the XC courses can be hammered in the larger rings on my double or triple I use (which are certainly smaller on my Niner bikes due to chainstay yoke clearance issues - 38T on the JET and 40T on the RIP).

Back to my Lake Ahquabi test laps and thinking of Tom and Katherine.  Boy, I am easily sidetracked today.  Must be all the snow we are getting and my procrastination of going out with the shovel to clear the walks and drive.  I took two laps around Ahquabi and confirmed that I don't use the granny ring (a 23T Rotor Q Ring) unless I am recovering between intervals and want to climb something steep and slow while keeping my heart rate down and the burn out of my legs.  This is a great ring for the mountains and endurace events, but not here in Iowa for the majority of my riding.  My RIP triple is 23/30/40 up front mated with an 11-34 XTR cassette in the rear.  The middle ring of the 30T covers the low end well for all climbs, but is a gear or two short when I want to haul ass down hills, do sprints and fly on the connector sections that are flat on surfaces such as pavement and gravel.

I got home and compared my 30T and 40T rings (since I use them the most on my RIP 9) with my 11-34 cassette to see what gearing I would have with a 34T Rotor Q Ring 1 x 9 drivetrain instead.

Here's what I got...

Going 1 x 9

Not bad.  I would pretty much lose only one sprint gear on the small cog end and only one climbing gear on the large rear cog end by swapping to a single 34T ring up front.   

Hmmm......digging around at MTBR on the 1 x 9 picture thread, I found pictures of the "SHREK Bike" outfitted with a 1 x __ drivetrain and the Rotor Q Ring 34T SS. 



Sweet looking bike and it caused me to "think".  It's okay, Tom - I can handle it.  ;-)

I dug out my 34T Rotor Q Ring that had been collecting dust for years and went to work on my RIP 9.  I got the 3 rings off and remembered the middle ring slot wasn't going to work unless I hit it with the Dremel.  Not wanting to do that just yet and not wanting to spend too much on trying this conversion out (like purchasing a new crankset with the correct BCD of 104mm and normal slots) - I noticed it fit fine on the large ring slot of my old XT M752 180mm cranks.  I use a short 113mm Octalink BB on the 73mm BB shell of the RIP 9, so my chainline is inboard as it is from normal, so by mounting the ring on the large slot instead of the middle (are you with me?) it works out to a 54.5mm chainline and lines the front ring up right in line with the middle cog in the rear.  Perfect for my needs and trial, but not so good when it comes to choosing chain retention devices!

I called Rotor and Amber told me that my old M752 Shimano XT is not one that is standardized with the latter generations of XT Shimano cranks for accepting any old 104 BCD ring.  So when I bought the Rotor Q Ring a few years ago, I didn't know that would be the case.  Anyway, we chatted and she confirmed I could even use an 11 speed chain with the Rotor Q if I was game to try out a XX1 set up.  That's good to know for future consideration.  Current consideration is that the rear derailleur, cassette, chain and front shifter would set me back about $1K for an entry price.  I told her I would stick with what I have and run a 1 x 9 if I could for now.  Maybe SRAM will introduce the 1 x 11 in the X0 and X9 lines at a lower price point (and heavier of course) package at somepoint in the next year.

I mounted up the crank arm on the RIP, took off the front derailleur, front shifter, cables and noted the bike dropped in total down to 27.38 pounds.  It was 28.38 pounds before the "conversion".  Eager to try it out, I headed back on Wednesday for a lap at Lake Ahquabi to see how the gearing felt.  The Rotor Q Ring makes the 34T seem like a 32T in the smaller portion of the elliptical ring, and more like a 37T in the larger portion.  So right between my standard round 30T and 40T rings it is replacing for this trial.  I have always loved the feel of a Rotor Q Ring for climbs.  The 34T combined with the 180mm crank arms made this combination seem just fine and dandy.  The chain stayed in place for the entire lap at XC race speed bombing through all the bumps, roots, ruts.  I held nothing back.  I even caught myself "thinking" on some climbs and descents.  Tom - you're going to have to cure me of my sarcasm and I owe you one for allowing me to comment and quote you.

I know I need a chain retention device as the chain will probably fall off when I'm not pedaling and hitting some bumpy terrain at some point and create a mess of a situation.

That led to the next researching of the internet for solutions last night.  Private messages.  Emails.  Posts on message boards.  Reading tons of message boards and coming up with a solution that meets my needs.  Full suspension bike that is less than 5" of travel + a retention device that will reach out beyond the 50-53mm chainline that most other retention devices max out at + one device that is dedicated to XC riding like I will be doing + is a reasonable cost (under $75) all led me to the Rohloff Chain Guide as the one to try.  It's great for full suspension bikes.  It works well for XC riding.  It can go all the way out to accomodate a 62mm chainline.  It's less than $75 - even with shipping.

Here's the fugly stock Rohloff...


Here's what Jeff Jones used to do to them for 1 x 6 drivetrains he had on his Ti rigs that were such a hot item in the 2006-2009 time frame...


And here's what it looks like mounted up on a bike...


Very trick looking!!  I emailed Jeff to see if he is still doing this and might have some for sale.  He wrote back and said he is no longer modifying them and doesn't have one in stock.  So it sounds like I'm on my own to give it a whirl for making it look trick.  I'd start with a stock one to see if it clears the cable stop on my RIP and retains the chain as claimed.  If so and it works, I will think about customizing it a bit so it's not so big, black and fugly as the stock version.  It only weighs 74g stock, but looks to trim down a good 20-25g with some modifications.  I could live with that.  I just need to find a machinist who is willing to tinker for dollars.

I'm so sorry my camera is in Spain and can't snap some shots, but the Rotor Q Ring looks great on the raw RIP 9.  I might turn this thing into an XC comfort race bike that begs to be ridden all the time if I'm not careful.


I got back on track with the weight loss goal of chipping away at losing excess from my body.  I am about to go sub 182 by the weekend (was 182.2 this morning).   Wise eating this week, keeping the metabolism fired up and staying on the wagon helped get things back after last week's eating fiasco.

I skipped two weight lifting days this week, so made one up this morning and will rearrange my daily workouts this week to get everything in I am supposed to do.  I am making today a 2 a day workout day and will do my Zone 4 workouts this evening before we dive into a nice Arugula salad for dinner.  It might call for some wine, a fire in the fireplace and a warm blanket with our 33 degree temperatures and snow.  It is May, right?  It's looking like the weekend bike races will be a bust and have to be rescheduled.  It wouldn't surprise me to see that posted up on Facebook within the next 24 hours, but who knows?  


Zone 5! May Day! May Day! Another new bike in the house...!!!

It's May Day!!!

Monday was maintenance weight lifting day which I skipped in lieu of napping and doing some general errands.

I did run up to Rasmussen Bike Shop in Des Moines with Tara after work to take part of the Specialized bike sale that still has a few models marked down.  She came home with a nice Ruby size 51cm road bike.  She has been wanting a road bike for quite some time to use on our bike trail rides on the Summerset Trail, Great Western Trail and others in Central Iowa.  Not to mention, a road bike for the upcoming RAGBRAI we are doing on Team Simpson.  The evening was not complete before we met the kids at the Cheesecake Factory (of course I had a salad from their SkinnyLicious® Menu) to dine and visit.

My camera left the country at 7:30 this morning for Spain with my son Zack, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to punt for a couple of weeks when it comes to photography.  Maybe I'll borrow my wife's or daughter's phone to snap some shots, but for today....


The Ruby is the female version of the Roubaix and is a carbon frame with the Zertz inserts and relaxed fit to make it the endurance bike for longer rides and rougher surfaces.  A big shout out to Sterline Heise at Rasmussen Bike Shop!  He is the man and took great care of my wife and I to get her fit on a new bike.  We now own 3 Specialized road bikes purchased at Rasmussen and I know we'll be back in the future as they have won our business with their excellent customer service and attention to detail.

Tuesday was the Zone 5 workout on the schedule and I opted to do it outside on the Niner RIP 9 mountain bike at Lake Ahquabi to see what the trail was like after all the work that has been going on by the DNR and their contractors.  Knowing that we have umpteen days in a row of rain, snow and moisture hitting starting tomorrow, I wanted to get in some dry dirt while I could and enjoy the 80-84 degree temperatures.  So I headed out to Lake Ahquabi.

I warmed up for 25 minutes doing the race loop and was very pleasantly surprised with the completed work on the culvert area at the base of the Whitley Monument and the far west side of the lake.  They had big equipment in there reconstructing the lake shore, and to do so they had to widen the trail and put some rocks down.  The equipment is gone and the work is completed.  The sections they did this on are actually - IMO - now improved, faster and will be just fine once all the ruts the machinery left have worked themselves out (might involve some trail work days for me with my shovel).

Climbing from the lake and up into the back woods on the north side I launched into my first set of intervals.  Once I got over to the east side of the campground, my breathing was difficult as a controlled burn was underway and things were smoldering as the DNR burned the undergrowth in the forest on the east side.  I powered through, hacking and coughing when I needed to cough and hack.  On the 2nd lap, I did my 2nd set of Zone 5 intervals and my legs felt the strongest they have all year.  Yippie!!! Progress as the build progresses...

After 90 minutes and not wanting to stop riding because everything felt so good and the weather was nice, I forced myself to load up and head into town as I was meeting Alexa for lunch after her waitress training session at Napoli's.  We hit up Funaro's for turkey sandwiches and stopped at the new Bake Shop for a cookie.

I went home and cleaned up our 2 recumbents (Burley Koosah and Baccheta Giro) to get them ready to sell.  We enjoyed them for a number of years, but moved on to the road bikes and mountain bikes for all of our riding.  I was actually sweating as things felt summer like in the garage.   What?  Could it be?  Short lived as we'll be dropping from the 80's to the 30's in the next 48 hours.  Oy!!!

Auction block - here we come....



I took a bit of a nap after that and was awakened by 2 ladies ringing the doorbell.  They were out canvassing for my vote on the new proposed Casino in Warren County.  Tara arrived home from work and we suited up to give her new Ruby its maiden voyage.  Off we went to Banner Lakes for a loop of the State Park and then we had to face a strong headwind all the way back to Indianola.  She needs a bit of time to get used to the SRAM Apex shifting, but liked the bike overall a great deal.  We rolled in after 90 minutes of mainly Zone 2 riding and made a huge salad and baked some bread.  I felt good logging in 3 hours of bike time and not feeling spent at the end of the day.

Wednesday is a scheduled maintenance weight lifting day and a recovery spin.  I believe the weather will alter the weekend's racing schedule.  The rescheduled Psycowpath Tranquility Park race is supposed to be on Saturday and IMBCS #2 at Camp Ingawanis near Waverly is scheduled for Sunday.  If I end up doing one of them - great.  The forecast does not look promising, but we shall see.  The opening race of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series  was scheduled for Sunday at Buck Hill in Burnsville.  However that was postponed due to winter lasting longer than normal and rescheduled for June 30th.  The Minnesota race was originally my targeted race for the weekend based on some goals and the map of laying out my season.

It appears all of those well laid out plans are shot to oblivion with all the weather causing some reschedules, so I'll just see where all the dust settles and pick and choose alternatives when and where I can.  On paper it was all organized so well.........before the rain and cold hit.  There will be more rescheduled races throughout the season as well.  I was planning on doing far less this year and all of them were timed out well with enough recovery between, but I see weather will be a factor.