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.... ;-)