2017: Happy New Year!!!!!


Ah, yes. One of those year end wrap up posts on a blog that yada, yada, yada about what happened in 2016, and what one hopes for in 2017 yada, yada, yada. If and when I do it, it is more for an electronic journal for myself to look back on and bring up memories.

I'll sum up 2016 in two words: It was.

Enough said about that as all my blog posts pretty much covered what it was, another trip around the sun filled with fun, sadness due to loss, the full gamut of emotions when beloved family pets move on, wonderful news for our children, and life's eventful journey. I don't mean to be pessimistic about our year and not sum it up with a long blog post as it was a good year filled with wonderful trips, events, family, friendships, and transitions including saying goodbye to Tara's father. I just covered most of it in the previous posts, so no point in rehashing it all.

I'll sum up what I hope 2017 will be in three words: It will be.

Yes. It will be filled again with work, trips, reaching goals, transitions, and our attempt at enjoying it all as it comes.

Married for 27 Years

We did celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary yesterday with a quiet evening at home with our children. Tara had ordered a pastrami from Katz's Delicatessen in New York  City as my Christmas gift. We had a wonderful meal on Thursday night with it, and decided to take on making our own version of Speedy Romeo's pastrami pizza last night with some of the leftovers. It was so good, I believe we will make another for New Years Day. It was actually Alexa's recommendation, and the pastrami pie had been featured on Food Network. Here's a blog about the Jewish Mash-Up including links to plenty of "how to make its". There's a link to the Food Network video, and we ended up making our own version (including olives) for a romping, stomping amazing pizza!

Before going in the 425 oven...


And after 20 minutes of baking...


It's hard to portray how delicious this was, but the red kraut, olives, fontina cheese, thousand island dressing, bechamel sauce, Katz's pastrami, and the everything bagel spices just makes for a tremendous burst of flavor on everyone's favorite - pizza! It's a keeper for sure in this household.

Of course, Noel wanted to help with cleaning up and rinsing the dishes...

Noel helping with rinse

Thanks and Kudos to Rasmussen Bike Shop in Des Moines!

After spending 4 years of riding the Specialized Roubaix Big Red Fire Truck 64cm road bike on pavement, gravel, grass for some cross races, fire roads in Germany, paths and roads in California, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah in Winter, Fall, Summer, Spring, rain, snow, salt, sand, humidity, my sweat dripped all over it, a few RAGBRAIs - I figured it was time for a new chain, cassette, rings, BB, brake pads, cables, housing, new tires, clean up, etc... .

It wasn't shifting so well and I knew it was time, so Matt ordered the parts last week, and I took it up this week to get the overhaul. Sure, a new bike is always at the back of one's mind, but I love this bike as it gets most of my pedaling action of all my bikes and fits me well. All the new parts and labor to spruce it up was in the $500 - $600 range which is a lot less than a new bike at $2K plus. When I picked it up and paid, Sterling said "Wow, Bruce. You've got a new bike." which is actually how it feels out on the pavement. Shifting is once again flawless, and the CGR post gobbles up enough of the cracks and bumps to make me smile on this endurance bike.

While they did it, I wanted to go from the OE white bar tape and saddle, to black which is more practical in terms of not showing dirt. The white looked cool when new, but was an eye sore the past 4 years no matter how much I tried to keep it looking clean. So I moved over the black WTB Volt and Specialized CGR post from the Dos Niner (which now has the Thudbuster and another WTB saddle on it) to the road bike, and had Rassy's put on the Lizard Skin black 3.2mm bar tape.

It went from looking like this...


To looking like this...


I'll get 2 1/2 hours out in the cold today on the bike, take a nap, then go to dinner in Des Moines tonight with Tara and friends before we all head to the Symphony Concert at 8 pm. That's our New Years Eve celebration.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!


Winter has arrived...

Fall riding and season is over as the equinox ushered in the official start of Winter this week. Winter Solstice. Shortest day of the year (in terms of daylight). My peak for off season weight gain (tacked on 6.8% of my ideal racing weight this Fall with some good eats). It also marks when I put the snow tires on the cars. In addition, Solstice brought some fond memories as it would have been my Dad's 90th birthday.

That being said - Winter is here.

We have been through an emotional transition in our families with loss, and are focused on new growth going forward. Our son adopted a dog from the AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport group out of De Soto, Iowa. Her name is Noel (as in the French word for a Christmas Carol) and she is busy carrying every shoe she can find in the house as a prize she thinks she is entitled to have.


Minimal lights and no ornaments are on the tree this year as Noel is fascinated with chewing whatever she can chew on - and she enjoys drinking the water out of the tree stand.

I think I got a record number of laps in at Banner Pits in the September - December time frame this year thanks to favorable weather, my new set of lights, and the trail having been in great riding shape.


55 degrees and a Thunderstorm on Christmas Day ought to leave our trails in muddy messy conditions, but hopefully things will dry out next week.

With the start of Winter also comes the start of my training for the 2017 season. This is week one of a 12 week plan. Monday was day one which had me doing 40 squats, 40 deadlifts, 40 bench presses, 40 hamstring curls, and 30 minutes of core work. It's taken until today for me to clear the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Ouch! Tuesday was my annual Power and Heart Rate Test to see where I am as I begin the new season training. I was surprised to find myself score a number 5 watts higher than the two previous years to start the Winter training. Small gain in terms of my starting point, but probably due to some good Fall riding I was able to enjoy that kept my FTP tuned up. Wednesday was a 60 minute recovery spin. Due to the forecast for Sunday, I swapped Sunday's scheduled workout with Thursday's and took advantage of the sunshine and 40 degrees to get my 4 hour Zone 2 ride yesterday. I was happy that my legs had 55 miles in them out in the wind and hills to knock out the ride.

Who has 4 hours to ride a bike during the work week? Well, this is all due to our semester break giving me the time to load up all the training hours that the final two weeks of December and first week of January allows. That being said, it looks like 2016 will come in about 50 hours less on the bike than 2015 and 2014. More on that later, but suffice it to say I am slogging out week one of my LWCoaching.com training plan this week.

After four years of riding the Specialized Roubaix, I decided it was time for a new chain, cassette, rings, brake pads, new tires, and a tune up. So the parts were ordered at Rasmussen's Bike Shop in Des Moines, and I will take the bike up to drop it off for the update. I'm switching from the white bar tape to black as well since white - which looks cool - is pretty impractical when it comes to dirt, and sweat.

The Roubaix sees the most miles and hours out of all of my bikes I own. It has been a great work horse the past four years. Whether it is a training ride, a fun ride, a group ride, a gravel ride, RAGBRAI, or a simple commute - the Big Red Fire Truck (size XXXL 64cm) Roubaix has served me well.


The tune up and new components ought to freshen it up.

A very Merry Christmas to all!


I am all lit up...

So much for the beautiful Fall mountain biking conditions. Anyone who missed out, really missed out this year as the conditions were beyond excellent.

Snow hit this morning and looks like it will accumulate enough to end the Fall fun I have been having out at Banner Pits. I've logged 35 laps at Summerset alone from September to now, plus Center Trails, and Lake Ahquabi saw plenty of attention from my bike as well. We had very dry singletrack this Fall all over Central Iowa coupled with a lot of perfect temperatures which kept the freeze-thaw cycle out of the equation for mountain biking. In my opinion, it has been the best conditions for Fall riding in the past 14 years. It was the 2nd warmest November on record here in Iowa, and last Friday it was 55 degrees on December 2nd as well as around 50+ on Monday, December 5th to wrap it all up. Then the mercury suddenly dropped down below freezing the next day which meant the trails were dry, frozen, and perfect goodness for this past week for anyone with cold weather riding gear to wear. Temperatures in the teens and twenty's are my favorite as long as there is no snow on the trail.

After the time change, I pulled out my old trusted Niterider MiNewts to keep the trail lit for my road biking and my mountain biking. Realizing that their combined maximum of 650 lumens wasn't really enough to allow me to go full speed on the singletrack, I decided to upgrade these 8-10 year old lights. The MiNewt XT duals on my bar put out a maximum of 300 lumens on high, and 184 lumens on low.


The MiNewt helmet light could throw out a maximum of 350 lumens on high, 200 on medium, and 125 on low. The combination was enough to keep me in business for the occasional Fall/Winter/Spring night ride, or some of the 24 hour races I did way back when I bought them. However, I figured it was time to upgrade since bike lights with lumens in the 2000 - 6000 range were easily available and the same price as my old MiNewts that served me so well.

Enter, my decision to get the ituo combination of their new XP4 for the bar, and the XP3 for the helmet. On high, the combo provides 5400 lumens!!!! Let's just say that on high and on medium, I have felt super safe as I can see everything and go at race speed with no worries. It's like having a car on the singletrack with the beams on high! I paid around $450 for the three Niterider lights at the time I bought them all those years ago. The price on the ituo combination of the XP4 and the XP3 was $459 for 8.3 times the amount of lumens!

It's a sweet time to upgrade IMO.

Here's the XP4 on my bar...

Ituo XP4

Here are my helmets side by side with the MiNewt on the left, and the new XP3 on the right...

Ituo vs minewt

The ituo USA representative, Keith Robinson, lives in the Quad City area and was kind enough to answer all of my questions and make a recommendation for me. My Niteriders have the Cool Light LED's which are great for riding on pavement where the slight blue tint works best. On singletrack, the ituo representative (Keith) told me that their lights use the NW or Natural White LED's which keep the color of what you see in the forest, and removes some of the flatness of the terrain contour. I trusted him and am glad I did.

The lights are excellent!

Lights arrived a couple of days after my order...


Small footprint for such a huge light throw...


I use a Topeak gas tank pack on my bike to hold the battery for the bar light, and I toss the helmet light battery in my jersey pocket (or Camelbak).

Here is the review that Keith did on the XP4 (and he had the XP3 on as well). Below is a video he made at Illiniwek Forest Preserve across the Mississippi River in Illinois (and also some video at Sunderbruch Park in Iowa that Keith made with a pair of XP3's). The videos helped convince me to go with the ituo lights as the terrain, foliage, and dirt at Illiniwek and Sunderbruch are very similar to what we have here in Central Iowa.

Illiniwek XP4 & XP3 combo...

Sunderbruch Park XP3 & XP3 combo...

I have two evening rides under my belt with these lights, and all I can say is they are fantastic. Run time allows me to get three laps at Banner on full power, or a lot longer if I use the medium setting. Perfect for my needs of 1 - 3 hour rides. I highly recommend ituo lights for any of you considering an upgrade.

My hope is that what little snow we do get will not completely stop my riding. I would imagine a walking lap around the singletrack with the jet pack blower would remove the white stuff.... ;-)


November Wrap!

I will start with the lighter side of wrapping up November.

Bike riding in the second warmest November in history here in Iowa.

The month of November looked much like October and September did in terms of how many miles and how many hours I got to enjoy on the bike with my work and travel schedule. The weather was wonderful - being a record month for warm temperatures and all - allowing me to ride outside whenever I wanted to go for a ride in Iowa. Of course, with the time change, I had to charge up the lights so I could get some after work rides in now that the sun sets before 5 pm. Most of these were "for fun" Fall rides, and to help keep most of the blubber at bay that I tend to gain this time of year.

One of my local tracks, Banner Pits, has remained in good shape this Fall, and I took full advantage of it.

Banner Fall riding...

We will soon have frozen tread to ride as temperatures dip below the freezing mark next week.

November 3rd 18.2 Miles -- Duration 1:14:24
November 4th 12.7 Miles -- Duration 00:59:08
November 5th 14.59 Miles -- Duration 1:30:35 (MTB Race)
November 6th 37.7 Miles -- Duration 2:43:43
November 8th 9.01 Miles -- Duration 00:29:58
November 10th 9.54 Miles -- Duration 1:03:10 (MTB)
November 12th 18.7 Miles -- Duration 2:06:02 (MTB)
November 13th 20.6 Miles -- Duration 2:04:03 (MTB)
November 16th 12.9 Miles -- Duration 00:55:25
November 17th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:16:58 (MTB)
November 19th 9.0 Miles -- Duration 1:03:45 (MTB)
November 21st 10.2 Miles -- Duration 00:43:38
November 22nd 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:18:27
November 24th 13.1 Miles -- Duration 00:50:00
November 26th 10.3 Miles -- Duration 00:35:00 (HIIT)
November 27th 20.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
November 28th 33.8 Miles -- Duration 2:28:00
November 30th 19.6 Miles -- Duration 1:04:58

November Total Miles: 300.34
November Total Duration: 23:27:14

That's it for the bike wrap up.

Now on to the emotional part of the month...

We flew out as a family and spent Thanksgiving in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Starr family celebrated Thanksgiving dinner on Gary and Nancy Starr's houseboat in Sausalito.

Outside on the dock to take the grand tour of the neighborhood - Bruce & Tara with her cousin Penny, and her husband Dave Audick.

Bruce&Dave with Cousins Tara&Penny

Sitting down to eat...


As Gary stated so well at Thanksgiving dinner, this was his 61st family dinner and the first one that his Uncle Joe was not there carving the turkey as Joe felt it was so important to be a part of the family gathering. That choked us all up.

Tara's cousin, Sharon, shared this picture of Joe carving the turkey in the past...

 (Thanks for the photo, Sharon!)

As of this year, now Gary and his son are the official turkey carvers...


Bunny chimed in and said that this was the 67th annual family gathering, and in spite of Joe not being with us, there were 4 generations of the family present between the 29 of us in attendance. She hoped that everyone would continue the tradition once she was gone.

Bunny as the oldest generation and April as the youngest generation on her Great Grandmother's lap...


We had not been to this gathering since 2010, so it was nice to be back and catch up with all of the relatives.

Alexa with her Aunt Holly and Uncle Michael...


Fun was had by all as we visited, ate, and drank our fill of the 67th annual Starr family Thanksgiving. We dropped one off in Berkeley on our way back to our motel in Pleasant Hill.

The next day, Black Friday as it has come to be known, was the day we had chosen to say our good-byes to Joe. The cremation could not be done while we were there in October due to a backlog, so it was decided we would hold off for a few weeks and do it all during the Thanksgiving weekend which was the first chance we had to travel out as a family.

Speaking of Joe...

Here's a picture of Joe along with Zack from a few years ago...


We had the interment and memorial service for my father-in-law, Joe Starr, the day after Thanksgiving. The interment was at Gan Shalom just north of Orinda, California near Briones Park. It's really a beautiful setting with a field of sheep nearby, and cattle grazing on the hills. My father-in-law loved nature and the outdoors, so this is really a perfect resting place for him. My mother-in-law's brother, Morris, is buried in the same cemetery. Eventually, other family members will be laid to rest there as well.

Here is our group assembling for the interment.


It included a military burial since Joe had served in the Army during WWII. It was actually quite nice with the playing of taps, then the opening and folding of the flag which was presented to the family.


Zack adding some dirt to his grandfather's grave...


The tradition of all of us shoveling the dirt in with the blade turned over to represent our reluctance to say good-bye was very moving. After the interment, I think we all felt some sense of relief that he was in his final resting spot.


The memorial was held at 3 pm on the same day in the Fireside Room at Rossmoor with Zack officiating.


Grandson Jared Cvetich and his friend Matt played music for half an hour as everyone gathered, and included some nice big band music that Grandpa used to enjoy dancing to in his dance clubs.


Both daughters, Holly and Tara, lovingly eulogized their father, and many stood up to share memories of Joe. Both granddaughters, Rachel and Alexa, shared poetry and readings. Following the service, everyone visited and shared memories...


It's not easy saying good-bye to parents, but a lot of positive memories were shared as we said good-bye to signify closure. The celebration of his 91 years of life was joyous and we will all miss Joe dearly.


Dirty Du!

This past weekend on Saturday was the Central Iowa Trail Association's annual fund raiser race commonly known as the Dirty Du (Dirty Duathlon)! It takes place at the Greenwood Park trails known as Center Trails. I have always tried to participate throughout the history of this event. Some years, the dates line up the same weekend that I am away at NATS, but this year worked out just right that I could do it. I have done it in the solo male category, the coed relay category, and the male relay category. In the early years, it involved the flat section known as Denman's for the running, but recent years have seen the entire event move up to the sections known as Hillside and Roller Coaster for both the running and the cycling. Running those hills without much training did me in, and I switched to doing the relay version with a runner.

My daughter and I won the Sprint Version coed relay one year when I had opera rehearsal in the afternoon and couldn't do the longer afternoon race. I competed with several Simpson students as my running partner several other years. I actually had a female student runner lined up, but I roped John Taylor into doing the running section with me for the men's relay version of this race. John is a sub 4 hour marathon runner who is trained, and more used to running those longer steady pace runs. The Dirty Du format is a quick lap on the dirt singletrack trails filled with hills that is a race much more akin to a full out sprint interval that takes about 16 - 20 minutes for the more competitive runners for a lap. Then the runner waits for the mountain biker to race three laps on their bike which takes about 15 - 18 minutes per lap for the more competitive riders - at which point the runner goes out for one more lap. My relay team came in at 1:37:36 last year for 10th place in the men's category. I was hoping to top that this year.

There is no masters category for the relay, but John is 58 and I'm 55 - so we were representing the AARP card carrying crowd for sure.  The weather was perfect, the trails were groomed, and we met in the parking lot about 30 minutes prior to start. I told John our strategy was not to get hurt (no twisted ankles, no falls, etc...). I had a goal of riding faster laps than I did last year as I felt in a bit better aerobic shape this year than last year due to my semester overseas and failure to get the base training, and structure I needed. This year I was in much better condition, so thought I could shave some time off of my lap times from last year. John's wife, Peggy came along as did my wife and daughter to cheer us on as we made our way around the course.

John lined up with all of the runners, and at the sound of the gun - off he went.

As I waited for his first lap to be completed, Tara posed with me...


John was caught on film jumping the creek crossing in true free spirit fashion...

Leap of Faith

He came through the finish line area, and tagged my hand which sent me off for my three laps. My heart rate jacked up high as a kite on the first set of climbs, but I kept at it. The trail was in excellent shape and I kept pushing.

Ron Cooney snapped a picture of me as I approached him...


A short time later, David Krohse caught me coming off one of the new bridges...


I felt pretty good rounding the finish line area after lap one, and pushed off for my second lap. After some of the initial climbing in this lap, I backed off just a bit to conserve a little bit for the remainder of the lap, and for my final lap.

Laps two and three were pretty uneventful in terms XC racing. The creek crossing was hardly even felt aboard my Yeti...


I felt pretty confident I had ridden faster this year, and when checking my times - sure enough, I met my goal of riding faster.

Last year lap times ----- This year lap times.

18:43 --------------------- 17:45
18:48 --------------------- 18:18
19:03 --------------------- 17:53
56:34 --------------------- 53:56

In total, I was able to cut off 2:38 minutes this year over last year. John ran his two laps in 19:37, and 19:12 which when combined with mine was good enough for 1:32:46 - or 7th place in the male relay division, and 13th out of the 72 teams overall. Not bad for a couple of old guys trying to stay in shape and keep young!!! That was a grand total of 4:50 minutes better than last year.

Kudos to Cheryl, Andy and the entire CITA crew for yet another excellent Dirty Du event. Thank you to the sponsors as well. It looked to be a successful fund raiser for CITA which will go back into our trails and tools to help maintain the trails.

After the race, we all went to Mullet's for some post race treats with John and had a nice visit.


November has arrived...

Tara spent the first two weeks in California helping take care of her father who passed away on October 12th - just six days short of his 91st birthday. I flew out and returned with Tara on the 23rd after we had cleared out everything in his house. Joe was able to play tennis and do his dancing right up until the lung cancer diagnosis in August. We went out as a family during Labor Day. Tara, Zack, and Alexa all made an additional trip out to say their goodbyes and to help with the needed care in the final days.

R.I.P. Joseph Starr


My heart goes out to my wife Tara, and my sister-in-law Holly on the loss of their father. We have all been spending time sharing memories with each other. I was fortunate to have known Joe for nearly 30 years. He had an impact on his two son-in-laws, and his four grandchildren.

I also received news that my biological father, Robert Heimsoth, passed away in October. We had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions. Twice when we traveled to Goodyear, Arizona where he lived, and one time when he came to visit us here in Iowa. My heart goes out to his wife, and to my half-siblings on their loss. He was a very kind hearted man. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to meet him, and the little time that I had to get to know him.

Needless to say, that was our October...


I took 4 students to the Central Region NATS student adjudications this past weekend which were held at the University of Iowa. Zack won third place in the graduate men's division, a freshman student of mine won honorable mention in the underclassmen college men's division, and a senior student of mine won first place in the upper college women's division. We normally bring more students, but this year there was conflict with two of our college choirs having a concert scheduled on the same weekend, so only a few of our students who are in a group called Chamber Singers were available to go. But the few who did go represented us quite well.


Bruce Brown, Emma Dickinson mezzo-soprano, and James Poulsen her accompanist.

Somehow I managed to get a bike race in up in Minnesota where I got third place, and some rides in throughout the month to blow out some cobwebs and keep me in shape. Not a huge month, but enough to enjoy the outdoors and various bikes - be it on dirt, gravel, or pavement.

October 1st 15.58 Miles -- Duration 1:25:07 (MTB Race)
October 2nd 17.6 Miles -- Duration 1:49:10 (MTB)
October 4th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 00:59:37 (Recovery Ride)
October 5th 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:11:17
October 7th 11.7 Miles -- Duration 00:58:20 (Recovery Ride)
October 8th 10.5 Miles -- Duration 1:15:50 (Pre-Ride of 11/5's race course)
October 9th 13.5 Miles -- Duration 1:28:49
October 11th 42.9 Miles -- Duration 2:43:08
October 13th 19.1 Miles -- Duration 1:20:47
October 14th 6.72 Miles -- Duration 00:40:52 (Recovery Ride)
October 15th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:31:53 (MTB)
October 16th 37 Miles -- Duration 2:30:45
October 23rd 28.4 Miles -- Duration 2:02:59
October 24th 9.03 Miles -- Duration 1:01:44 (MTB)
October 26th 20.9 Miles -- Duration 1:05:00
October 27th 6.11 Miles --  Duration 00:30:55 (Recovery Ride)
October 28th 11.6 Miles -- Duration 1:15:38
October 31st 10.2 Miles -- Duration 1:06:07 (Pre-Ride of 11/5's race course)

October Total Miles: 302.44
October Total Duration: 24:57:58


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!