Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh Heck! I'm In


After four months of waiting, I finally made it to the top of the wait list and got the invite to participate in the Heck of the North, a hundred mile gravel race on the roads north of Duluth.
Had I gotten the email 9 days earlier I probably would have turned it down. Once I finished my first century last weekend, I didn't want nor need to participate in the Heck. I did of course change my mind the next day. It's amazing how just 1 day of rest can change the way you feel.
Even though it's called a race, I'm just going to consider it a ride (I'm kinda slow). The only thing I'll be racing is sunset.
I'll be riding my Trucker. It's a really good all purpose bike. All I really need to do is pull off the racks and fenders and strap on my handlebar and seat bags and I'm set. 
I plan on riding about half of the route (or at least the roads that I think are on the route) Saturday. I may still bale on the race if I don't think can ride fast enough on gravel to finish in about 8 hours. I'm pretty comfortable on hard packed dirt, but loose gravel (especially going downhill) causes me to be a bit skittish. I'll most likely post an update Sunday on how that ride went and whether I decide to stay in the race.

Monday, August 22, 2011


This past Saturday I completed my first ever century. My previous best was 83 miles 4 weeks earlier, so I was pretty sure I had 100 in me.
I was really hoping to have a good story to tell when all was said and done, but riding the century didn't seem any more spectacular than any other ride, just longer.

2011-08-20 at 13-35-26
One of my favorite parts of the ride was watching all the clouds. Despite the sheer number of them, they never seemed to block the sun. Good thing I remembered the sun screen.

2011-08-20 at 13-47-35
I think I saw about 4 deer the whole day, which was 2x the number of bikes I saw. This guy was the only one who wanted to pose.

2011-08-20 at 13-52-51
One of the best parts of living here.

2011-08-20 at 14-09-31
After 20 miles of pavement I got to hit the gravel. For the first couple of miles the gravel was thick and loose. I debated turning around and going a different way, but I was pretty certain the county wouldn't put down fresh gravel along the entire 18 or so miles. Luckily I was right. It got much better (and faster) soon enough. I just wish the 10-20 mph headwind wouldn't have lasted the entire 25 miles that I was going west.

2011-08-20 at 15-03-02
As per usual, I had to stop and take a picture of the Trucker on a bridge.
I decided to go with 3 water bottles today (96 oz total). There aren't a lot of places around here to get water. I didn't get to a store until mile 70.

At one point the sun had a halo. I don't think I've seen one in the summer before.

2011-08-20 at 17-41-02
They don't make bridges like this anymore.

2011-08-20 at 17-41-30
Back at mile 50 I decided to forget the century and just ride straight home. By the time I crossed this bridge at mile 63 I had changed my mind and decided to go for it. It's amazing what a nice tailwind will do to improve your outlook on things.

In order to get to 100 miles I had to go 4 extra miles out and back on a side road before hitting the final stretch home. Just after turning back around (into about a 30 mph wind) it started to rain. Needless to say, I was not happy. Fortunately the rain only lasted a few miles and I was rewarded with a rainbow to accompany me during the last few minutes of daylight.

The final tally. 
I've  reached a milestone that I've been aiming at for a couple of years.
I'm glad I finally got it out of my system. Now I can just ride to ride. 
I can just go where the road takes me.
(at least till the double metric century bug bites)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rest Stop

Yet another reason I can't seem to get anywhere quickly around here. There are just too many beautiful places to stop.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Today was bath day for the trucker. I don't wash the bike as often as I would like, as I always find it to be a pain getting into the various nooks and crannies. Because the racks and fenders don't help at all in this regard, I thought I would remove them to make things a little easier.

Although it did end up being easier to clean bike without them. I don't think I'll make a habit of it. The hassle of removing them doesn't offset the ease of cleaning.

Another reason I had for taking them off was to see what the bike would look like without them.
It turned out as goofy looking as I thought it would. Between the 26 inch tires and the 62cm frame, it definitely needs the fenders and racks to help even things out.

I plan on riding it like this for a few days to see if I notice any difference in the way it rides. The weight went down from 36 to 29 pounds. That's quite a difference, although it's only 3% of my body weight, so I don't think I'll notice a thing.

A proper touring bike.