Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I have scheduled my vacation for the summer and actually have a Saturday off with no real obligations to anyone. If anyone wants to go out and bust up some gravel please let me know! I would prefer an early (7:30 or 8:00) start and try to do about 3 or 4 hours up north and back. Stanhope? Tri-counties?(Boone,Hamilton, Story) River Valley? Don't care too much, just want to go out. I rode about 2 hours today up R Ave. and over to Fraser for water, then home up the Y Camp hill and almost all of the gravel had recently been maintained. That meant deep, wheel sucking gravel, constantly searching for the line. It might be buffed out a little by Saturday. Leave a comment if you're in. Thanks! Later! Travel Gravel! P.S. Anybody know how to get an inflection mark on the E in Gravelo? Don't want to use an apostrophe.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Some pictures from the dirty side of RAGBRAI

Speaking of dry, it wasn't a trip without SOME pleasures! "They who await no gifts from chance, have conquered fate." Matthew Arnold
This was the fastest stretch of the entire day. Wind relief and smooth as you please. They're fun when they're dry!

Two sets of street signs...hmmm...county line and state line.

Should have hooked that fifth wheel to the ATV and tried it instead. That would be about the same effort as pulling all that weight on my bike. I would have run out of gas either way!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

There Went Nuttin'

Well I tried something that I thought was going to be a blast and it didn't turn out that way. But I tried it none the less and I think that's the lesson learned. First off, I have to say I did have fun and RAGBRAI on gravel is a great concept, I just went about it in the wrong way. I really have to thank my 75 year old dad for being the greatest dad ever! He hauled his adult son to Rock Rapids, drove back to Boone, then came to Spencer the next day to pick me up after I decided to bail on the idea. He hauled me to Audubon last year and picked me up in Newton two days later, and has taken me as far as Decorah before. What a guy! I know for sure that I have lots to live up to when Marshall (10) and Mitchell (7) want to start chasing crazy dreams. I really enjoyed spending some extra time with him and just being able to visit and hear stories I have not previously heard from him, and some others I have heard several times. So he dropped me off at Rock Rapids at 10;45 Sunday morning. Late start, but no big deal. I think I was the last soul in town to be riding a bike! I said goodbye and promptly headed North out of town for the Minnesota border. 5 miles later it was like I was in a whole other state! I rode across about 12 miles of the Gopher State to a point where I thought I could head South to hit Hawkeye Point, but I had turned too soon and missed it by a couple of miles. I hit a whopping 1590 ft. on my SUUNTO somewhere North of Littlerock and it was all downhill from there! In short, every town I stopped at was pretty much packed up and counting their take by the time I got there. I did ride some nice gravel and a couple of B roads and managed to enjoy some of it, but I have to admit that I found myself saying, aloud no less, "Where the hell is Spencer?!" I swear the last 12 miles took forever. Thanks to the 2 brothers from Team $pent who gave me a beer about 5 miles out. I needed that! The worst part for me personally has been explaining to my co-workers and family that I didn't do all 4 days like I had planned, and that it was just too much to do the way I tried. That and the annoying question, "Did you see Lance?" Give me a break! Later ! Travel Gravel!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Here goes nuttin'

Well I'm sitting here trying to keep my nerves at bay and losing the battle big time. I feel like I always do the night before a race. Butterflies, nervous big time, feel guilty for going to play and feel like I am ditching my family obligations. Then I'll have moments of wanting to be on the bike and forgetting the whole world outside of the view from the saddle. Wait, wait, wait, FLIP THE SWITCH! Ride, enjoy, forget. I guess I'll know Sunday morning at about 10:00 if it is all worth it. Right now I have to get through the night. Took the Burley over to my dad's to load it into the van for the trip to Rock Rapids. Feels a little heavy on the draw bar, but then it has:chain lube, chain tool, multi tool, spoke wrench, crescent wrench, pump, tire levers, 2 tubes, pedal wrench, pliers, patch kit, knife, duct tape, an extra rear wheel, 2 pairs of shorts, 4 jerseys, socks, Ralph shirt, sandals, a towel, 12 pack cooler, small tent, tarp, ground pad, 20 feet of string, sunblock, ECOLIPS medicated organic lip balm, a fifth of Templeton Rye, and food for the first couple of days in it! I guess traveling light is an acquired skill? I hope that a 29er type bike will ease the load, but I don't know how it would. Plans are simple. Ride the route about a mile from the pavement and only hit the pave' to get food or drink. Then camp each night in the overnight town, repeat next day. I will ride home from Hampton on Wednesday. This will be my highest mileage day at about 80 or so, I think. Wish me luck if you're reading this, pray for me if that's your thing, or tune in later and I will try to assemble some thoughts to post. Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hot enough?

I went out to ride some pavement today ( a rare event for me anymore) knowing that it was hot, but Jesus! I didn't think it was THAT bad! Went to Ledges to work on some intensity and got plenty of it too. Up the climb in the center of the park on my big ring, down the south side and turned around back up it, then down through the center again and up the hill at Camp Hantesa. Only about twenty miles in all, but with some good climbs in the mix. I was thinking how it must hurt to climb all day like the Tour riders do. Today they started out on an HC climb and then rode all day, only to finish on a Cat. 1 approach to another HC. All the while maintaining about 39 km/hour! Ouch! I am lucky to have VS. this year so I can watch it all unfold. My brother in law was recording the stages and giving me the discs in the last years, but now I don't have to wait until December to watch it. I liked the way "OLN " rolled off of Phil's tongue in the days before the name change. He made it sound like a person's name, or some exotic food. Sadly, I think he has lost some of his commentating skill this year. He says the wrong names, or can't think of the names, or even transposes letters in the first and last names. And Paul is ever the gentleman and backs him up, bails him out, or goes right on calling the race. I will put together some thoughts on the entire commentary team and post them soon. In other news, I was super stoked today that my dad agreed to take me to Rock Rapids to start RAGBRAI! Yes! I will be doing it on gravel roads, on my 29er, with a Burley full of the bare essentials. I can do the entire route about one mile off of the pave' and still have the luxury of convenience stores, small town community groups, etc for food. I even plan to jog up to Minnesota on the first day, ride over to Bigelow, then come down to the highest point in Iowa (a whopping 1660 ft above sea level) and then continue to gravel the route. I talked about this idea, riding gravel parallel to the main route, for years. This will be a bit of a testing year but should be a blast as long as it's dry. I will put up a lenghty post about it and hope to have photos to post also. I think of it as training for Trans Iowa for next year. I want to do more long rides, and that would certainly qualify! Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

First things first...

This blog will be mostly about bike riding. In central Iowa. On gravel roads. On any of my 25+ bikes. In all kinds of weather , as that's what we get around this joint! Some posts may be about other stuff, kids - work - family, but mostly my riding is inter-twined with all of that so it's mostly about biking. I went to see the riders off from the depot this morning, and to see who I knew in the Iowa Games road race. Turns out I knew quite a few from dirt racing who also ride clean bikes. Varnum, Bruce Reese, Jason Alread, Thad, Chad V, and a cast of others. Also, my brother in law Mike Johnson from Cedar Falls. He was doing the two lap race and rode 46 miles of it before flatting 6 miles out. Had to hurt the old ego a bit! I should try the road racing scene. I love racing off road so I feel like I could maybe develop a liking for road too. Bruce was trying his first oragnized road race today, as was Paul Varnum I believe. Sounds like they had a good, if not shakey, time of it. Who cares if you don't medal, or place high in your grouping. If you learn something about yourself and why you put your bike on the line to race at all, that's what says the most about you. So why wouldn't I do it next chance? It only took me 2 years of reading blogs to finally start one myself! Thanks to Varnum for inspiring me to do a blog. I hope it will entertain someone other than the guy posting it! Later! Travel Gravel!