Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sugar Bottom 1997

Once upon a time, back in "the day," there was a Mecca for Iowa mountain biking. The Holy Grail of dirt. That place was, and is, Sugar Bottom Recreation Area. A race there was absolutely going to be stacked deep with fast and talented racers in every class. This weekend should prove to bring back some of the glory of SB in the two day races that are slated. The Collegiate Championships, are you serious? Fast guys you've never even heard of will be jammin' out some fast laps for sure.
All this is purely conjecture at this point, for as I tap this out there is a decent lightning show crashing through the skies. If you've never been on the trail at SB when it is raining, you don't know the hell that could be faced. With the variety of soil types found on course a rider can go from greased-snot slick, to 300psi-packed-in grime, to a Euell Gibbons choking mash of pine needles in the course of one lap! The people who steward the land there are usually pretty picky about the conditions under which they will run a race. If it's sketchy they have sometimes ,in the past, called it in favor of saving the trails from a bludgeoning. If the rain comes Thursday in the quantities expected there may have to be a later date for the racing. That would suck, so hope for the best.
So anyways, I was looking back at my scrapbook (that's what I did before blogging was even a thing) and saw a results sheet from 1997! And not just from a race at Sugar Bottom, but the final race in a 4 race series! All of them at SB! In one year! Like I said, it was the place for racing action. One year it was rumored that Deadly Nedly was going to make a showing after a race in Traverse City the weekend prior, but it never came to be. That would have ruled. I looked down the results sheet and began to notice a few names that seemed somehow familiar to me. Hmmm. Could it be that I just happen to have a long memory, or are some of these people still out there givin' 'er! You decide for yourself. Among the people I remember are the following;
Landon Beachy - winner of 35+ Beginners cat. for this race, second o/a in Beginners, 4 race series overall winner! As close to Ned as we have around here? Must be the mustache.
Stiles Cummings - Fast kid, a memorable name, and I'm sure still killing it somewhere. First in this race for age, O/A, and Series!
Steve Bullerman. Bike Tech. Fast! 1.56.31 in two laps.
Mike Johnson. Bike Tech.(But not at that time I don't think) Fast Now! 2.36.54 back then. Remember those days when you had to race that long Mike? Now you're back in the Magnum uploading your PowerTap to your coach by this time. Love the kid!
Chia Chad Vandelune. Old and fast. Guy has the must of three men!
Jeff "Auto" Maddox. Old and fast. Again, the old man strength that only age can bring. And the hairline to match.
Sterling Heise. Old and, well, he has some kick ass watches that he has begun to enjoy since racing has ended for him. Who new that he loves MMA and can talk UFC 103 all night. I do!
Tom Scholz. The guy from Boston? Prolly not!
Rick Cheevers. A teammate from the Irwin's days. Fast back in the days. 2nd in 35+ this race, 8th O/A this race, and 12th for the series.
William Stoffel (the elder) - Fast old guy, even in support of his son and daughter. Hey, he beat Striker in this race!
John Newell - DNF this race, but his rep speaks for itself these days.
Mark Mangrich - Unrealistically fast. Ditto his brother Adam. Genetics gone wild! Shades of the Brothers Carney.
Tony Hibbs - 7th this race, always modest in his speed. Supposedly quit racing?
Chris Maharry - 11th this race. Uber promoter and cool dude!
Bill Stoffel (the younger) - So casual in his rage! Smooth and silent. Bill stopped racing for a while there, and I actually beat him at Decorah one year! OOH!
Honorable Mentions - Brad Patty, Jeff Anker, Jason Alread, Marc Hollander, Nate King, Cully Todd, and some Jason Mc Cartney or something like that? Big deal I guess;)
Oh the memories. I remember so many of these guys. It sometimes freaks people out that I remember them when they have NO IDEA WHO THE HELL I AM! So don't bug if some soft-spoken guy with a mole on his jaw comes up and says "Hey" at a race. It's just me. Later! Hope to see somebody, anybody, everybody, at SB this weekend! Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Pics

Precision American Engineering, cast in concrete.
Note to self: I need to make a trials bike!
The whole enchilada! That's an impressive bridge, but I like the old one better. Too bad it will probably not stand for long (the old one) because as it continues to age and weaken, they can't afford to risk it falling onto the new one.

High Bridge Loop

Finally! It has been about a year and a half in the making, and I was finally able to go out on my original gravel loop. The loop that created my thirst for ridin' dirty. The loop where I would bomb down washboarded gravel and suffer like a pig on the other side. All altitude is bought and sold on this loop as the downs are almost exactly equal to the ups. This is the loop where I would head out the door and my wife, not knowing if I was going road riding or gravel grinding, would have to ask! (That was a long time ago, she knows now that if I'm on a bike, I'm on gravel:) I would simply respond, "High Bridge Loop!" The route was impassible because of the construction of the UP's new bridge. They had a cement batch-plant set up on one side of the valley, and a multitude of trucks, excavators, etc. constantly droning around. I think they even had guards posted at the ends of the old bridge to keep snoopy locals and FRNs away.
I realized today that there is quite a bit of pavement on this loop. In fact, the first 20 minutes are on pavement, then you approach the top of the river valley and the gravel is waiting like a dusty, gritty escalator to take you down the first bombing run. Rumble over the Wagon Wheel Bridge, under the new High Bridge, and it's up, up, up! From there it's over the Humpback single-lane bridge, down and up through Hippy Holler, down immediately to Tilley's Hole, around to Water Works Hill (Iowa Games roadies know this hill) and home through town. I had not a single problem while on the dirt, but had 3 morons encroach upon my rights while on the paved roads in town. You know the story, it never changes. Some day I'm going to make a billy club and mounting rack. Make it quick release so I can pop it onto whichever bike I'm taking. Got a problem with me riding my bike Buddy? Say hello to my Little Friend! But I digress, for the post here is about enjoying a favorite old route. I used to keep track of my times on this route, and the fastest I ever road it was 56:06. Today was a lot slower than that, but I did stop for pictures, and I guess I'm not 34 anymore. So I'm told anyways;) Later! Travel Gravel!