"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Humbled, Tumbled, Cramps and Road Rash!

Humbled, Tumbled, Cramps and Road Rash!
(If you say that just right . . . it almost rhymes;  OK, maybe not)
CIRREM . . . What a blast!  I have already sent in my card for 2011.
Before I continue, a moment of sincere silence.
Those of You that know me, know I have made several trips and spent a fair amount of time in and around Concepcion, Chile, the epicenter of Saturday's earthquake.  To date I have not been able to reach any of my friends and associates in the area.  I can only hope they are OK.  Concepcion has been destroyed five times since the 1600's by earthquakes.  A beautiful city it is, with lovely inhabitants.
Back to CIRREM.
Many, Many thanks to Kent and the other organizers.  They did an A#1 job, right on, spot on.  
The morning buffet was fab . . . too much to eat.

Upon being handed the day's cue card . . . and realizing there were some 38 turns, I quickly decided I would simply put the card in my pocket, and make certain I was always with someone who "knew where they were going (mistake . . .) 
The race began just after 10:00 AM, temp a pleasant 15 degrees.  It was apparent immediately that some of the boys came to race . . . really race.  The first eight or so miles were relatively flat on hard packed snow and ice.  I would be remiss in not honestly admitting a bit of initial nerves.  Once I learned to ride it, it was darn nice.
About five miles in I felt my chain drop . . . egads, this is going to be a long ride (little did I know . . .)  Turns out it was not off . . . I think I hit a patch of glare ice and just did the instant no resistance spin thing.
By this time the group was gone . . . long gone.  No way I was going to sprint to catch them (riding O1 on ice, they on those silly geared things).  I was perfectly happy just ridin' my bike.
I quickly realized this was not to be an easy ride.  This part of Iowa is never flat; hills, often big hills (more on this later)
About 12 miles in I caught up with Matt Gersib (Of Salsa fame)  When Matt learned of my hometown . . . he waxed poetically, on and on . . . about some chap named "Farrow!"  Seems Mr Farrow is held in very high regard by said Salsa rider!
Matt and I decided we were having a pleasant time chatting: Knowing the boys up front were doing anything but chatting.  We concluded our concept was far more enjoyable for a February ride. We discussed how cool the "PCL Gravel World Championships" will be.
Shortly thereafter we were caught by a couple of other single speed boys . . .  off we went.  Led by Squirrel we soon caught the 2nd group.  Great I thought, effort can be reduced! 
I've spent a great deal of time riding in a bunch, I feel comfortable and safe . . . I'm happily riding along "minding my own  business when (yup, those words of terror) . . . I sense a rider in a brown jacket bearing down on me from the right . . . oh oh I thought as he pushes into me . . . which of course causes my front wheel to overlap the rear wheel of a leading rider . .  . we all know where this is heading . . . CRASH . . . of course the guy in brown keeps upright . . . the rider following me comes to a safe stop ("that was close").  I pop up, handlebars askew, hole in tights . . . oh well . . . only 50 more miles.
the "tumble and road rash"
(to make matters all the worse, I received a very specific email from an unnamed DBD rider last week admonishing me "not to crash!")
By this stage the road surface had begun to improve, an attentive rider can almost always find an ice free line.
The hills really enter the picture:  up - down . . . up - down . . . repeat.
For Rich on O1 this means close or erase the gap on the climbs, get dropped on the "flats."
At about 20 miles, for reasons I do not grasp . . . I am beset with muscle cramps like I have never experienced.  This is far to early . . . 20 miles, only 1:15 into the ride (again I think, this is going to be a long day!)
up - cramp - down . . .  up -cramp - down . . .  repeat
Soon the only check point was on me, since I was not using my cue card (as earlier noted), I had to wait (stubborn me). Ten minutes I waited until a rider "rode through . . ."  Oh well, my decision, as silly as it was, had been made, the commitment to myself kept.
In a somewhat silly fashion I told myself; "self; the 2nd half can not possibly be as hilly as the first"
The first turn clarified that picture:
up - cramp - down - up - cramp - down  . . . repeat.
Then a change . . . at the 2nd hill of the 2nd half:
up - cramp - walk - down - up - cramp - walk- down . . . repeat.
I was buoyed by the realization that all of the SS riders were walking (the humble)
To give you two ideas of the hills:
1) When I saw one looming hill in the distance I actually laughed to myself!
up - cramp - walk - down - up - cramp - walk - down . . . repeat
2) On several descents I neared 40mph (yes, on icy gravel . . . what was I thinking?)
up - cramp - walk - down - up - cramp- walk - down . . . repeat
Seven times I walked the top portion of the hill . . . and have no regrets.
up - cramp - walk - down - up - cramp - walk - down . . . repeat
By this time even my wrists were cramping. Very strange I thought . . . I kept drinking thinking, hoping the problem would resolve:
up - cramp - walk - down - up - cramp- walk - down . . . repeat
Finally . . . I'm on 105th st . . . I know I am close to the finish!  Over Hwy 35 . . . can't be far now . . . I know Cumming is only one mile East of the hwy.
Why am I still riding?  It can only be because for the first time of the ride I am on a flat road with the wind at my back!  Heck . . . no reason to pay attention to the cue cards I am not paying attention to . . . I might as well ride past the turn on 30th Ave and put in a few extra miles and 20 minutes.  .  .
Pulling into the Cumming Tap I had nothing but a smile on my face .  .  . It was a blast . . .
I had a  bit of work to do before heading out Sunday morning:
Of final, and important note:  I had to make a stop in Ames Iowa for pickle juice.
Can't wait for 2011!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Avarice at Amity Continued and Concluded!

You may recall my encounter with Big Blue several weeks ago, and my conversation with an unnamed Pugsley rider of dubious renown (in no way associated with a group loosely known as "DBD")

You may also recall my extensive research of MN Statutes, and my conclusion that we are indeed entitled to ride on Grant in Aid trails to our heart's content.

Not being 100% assured, ensured or insured . . . I chose to pursue the question/issue a bit further.

I had an opportunity to speak with three of Duluth's finest.  As expected they were not really too sure, but thought we are well within our rights. (they all expressed shock at the actions of Big Blue).

Still not satisfied I thought who better than a snowmobile riding game warden, a member of our very own MN DNR to answer my query.

Before I gave voice to my question, I prefaced it by asking him not to pretend to know, to only answer if he was 100% certain.  As to not insult the gun toting officer I thought it best to inform him that I do not expect any peace officer to know all of the laws of our fine land (I mean that, how could anyone?).

He smiled at me, and affirmed our right to ride!  Grant in Aid trails are indeed open to all (unless posted differently of course).

Further, and of his own accord, he told me we are not required to purchase a "sticker."  As it happens, Grant in Aid trails are not funded solely by the purchase of state trail snowmobile stickers.

Bottom line:  Fear not young rider . . . ride to your heart's content, But ride with grace, humility and concern for others on the trail.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What happens when You are away?

Yup, yesterday's was a great ride.  Just under 100 miles, around 2000' of climbing, expended about 4600 calories.
Started cold, got colder .  .  . why is it colder after dawn anyway?
(If anyone is really interested, check out this link  Coldest After Dawn 
Climbing was more comfortable than descending, the windchill was off the chart!  Good thing I had an extra hat to use as insulation in areas that . . . well . . . areas you just do not want cold.
At one point on our cold morning the lead rider (after realizing he had not seen me for ten miles) turned and asked "Rich, are you OK?"  Funny I thought . . . I've been behind you because it is probably 15 degrees warmer!
But once the sun was fully up . . . it was SPECTACULAR!  Too bad a full 1/2 of our contingent had previous commitments and had to leave early. (I think the major climb left them breathless .  . .)
The subject of this photo asked that I note upon publication: "he does not normally look this way."  Frankly, I have no idea what he means, he always looks this way. (ed)
The days lone drama (each and every ride must have a minimum one drama):
For some reason, when my camelback hose finally thawed beneath several layers of clothing . . . there must have been pressure in the bladder . . . it blew the valve off the hose!  Somewhere around 10 ounces of sticky red stuff saturated my outer two layers .  .  . (there must be a lesson there somewhere .  .  .  if I can only find it.)
And to answer the days question:  "What happens when you are away for an eight hour bike ride?"  I offer the following;
Yup . . . a new cat arrived.  My youngest promises me she will only be here for two weeks . . .  Do you think I can believe her?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Avarice at Amity

As I was minding my own business 
By now gentle reader you must know whenever I use these words only one outcome is possible . . . drama.  Saturday's ride in the sunshine did not disappoint!

Bluebird skies, warm temperatures . . .  in short, a nearly perfect day for a winter bike ride on the trails.

Up Vermilion I went, right turn onto the trail system (somewhere near "lost in Woodland")

Great happy ride down.  Who do I see but Jason and Bride (hi Liz)!  Nice chat about bikes, riding and work.

Continue on I do, to Lester Park . . . having a great day!  Others are out, riding, walking and skiing.  Everyone cheerful and happy.

Turn around, head back uphill (I actually prefer that . . .) Across Maxwell, over the bridge and up Amity Creek.

Cheerfully riding I am, when suddenly, out of nowhere . . . a big blue Arctic Cat Bearcat Z1, engine probably displacing somewhere near 7 billion cc's.

Before I continue, I must tell you:  heretofore all meetings and experiences with snowmobilers have been nothing but positive. They have been polite and friendly, most wave, some stop to chat.  Never been even a bit of an issue or problem. (I must confess I have been a bit surprised by this, my entire opinion of snowmobilers having been somewhat altered)

Back to Big Blue . . . 

Foul words from his mouth (I think there must have been a mouth somewhere from under his helmet).  Telling me I don't belong, telling me how stupid I am, yes, even a few four letter words uttered  before his statements of "fact." I decide the best, in fact only option is to keep riding . . . and simply acknowledge his presence.

Suddenly he threatens to "take my bike from me!"  (Just how does he propose to do that?)  I keep riding.

He asks my name, I decide to give it to him, I have nothing to fear.

Perhaps my polite, non-argumentative approach was too much for Big Blue . . .

He suddenly moves ahead, then in front of me at a 45 degree angle, no more than  three feet ahead.

Oh oh I think . . . this may end poorly.  Then I think to myself: "self . . . what is he going to do?  You a relatively fit guy on a bike, he off the sled dressed in a big one piece suit . . . no way he is going to hurt you, unless he decides to run you over (not likely I hope).

Instead, and again from a distance of no more than three feet he opens the throttle wide open . . . and proceeds to fill my face full of snow.

I'm a bit stunned and surprised by the entire encounter and simply continue riding . . .  I am a bit concerned for others others on the trail at this moment and decide to do a quick loop up and back to be certain other walkers and riders I knew were on the trail are OK.

When I am convinced I was the only party assaulted by Big Blue I simply continued my ride.

About five minutes later I come across a rider on a Pugsley (this rider shall remain unnamed).  I decide to flag him down, chat with him, see if he too had encountered Big Blue.

No he had not . . . when I related my tale . . . much to my surprise he agreed with Blue!  He told me that in fact we do not have the right to ride on any trails designated "Grant in aid!"  He was unsure if the trail we were on falls into this category, but again . . . assured me Blue was right.  At that moment a walker came into view.  I asked him if this person was allowed on the trail.  He told me technically he is not!

At this point I decided this rider may not know what he is talking about.  Sure I figure, if the trail crosses "private land," perhaps . . . but public land, seems nearly impossible.

He assures me he knows what he is talking about, claims to have been instrumental in many of the trails in Duluth.  I ask about state statutes regarding and relating to Grant in Aid trails . . . he tells me the law is very hard to find . . . I might have to go to the snowmobile clubs to find out (is that like a fox in a hen house?)

Being a man of curiosity I vow to myself to find the truth when I return home (those of you who know me know this was inevitable!)

It was not difficult . . . as I see it ... Big Blue and other rider are factually incorrect.


Important parts for your review.  I think you will find nothing prohibits non-motorized use on Grant in Aid trail.

Subd. 2.Authority of local government.

(a) A local government unit that receives state grants-in-aid for any trail, with the concurrence of the commissioner, and the landowner or land lessee, may:
(1) designate the trail for use by snowmobiles or for nonmotorized use from December 1 to April 1 of any year; and
(2) issue any permit required under subdivisions 3 to 5.
(b) A local government unit that receives state grants-in-aid under section 84.794, subdivision 284.803, subdivision 2, or 84.927, subdivision 2, for any trail, with the concurrence of the commissioner, and landowner or land lessee, may:
(1) designate the trail specifically for use at various times of the year by all-terrain or off-road vehicles or off-highway motorcycles, for nonmotorized use such as ski touring, snowshoeing, and hiking, and for multiple use, but not for motorized and nonmotorized use at the same time; and
(2) issue any permit required under subdivisions 3 to 5.
(c) A local unit of government that receives state grants-in-aid for any trail, with the concurrence of the commissioner and landowner or land lessee, may designate certain trails for joint use by snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain and off-road vehicles.

Subd. 3.Motorized use; permits, restrictions.

Permits may be issued for motorized vehicles, other than those designated, to use a trail designated for use by snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain or off-road vehicles. Notice of the permit must be conspicuously posted, at the expense of the permit holder, at no less than one-half mile intervals along the trail, for the duration of the permit. Permits shall require that permit holders return the trail and any associated facility to their original condition if any damage is done by the permittee. Limited permits for special events such as races may be issued and shall require the removal of any trail markers, banners and other material used in connection with the special event.

Subd. 4.Nonmotorized use trails.

No motorized vehicle shall be operated on a trail designated for nonmotorized use. This subdivision does not apply to motorized wheelchairs or other motorized devices operated by an individual who is physically disabled.

Subd. 5.Motorized vehicle trails restricted.

(a) From December 1 to April 1 in any year no use of a motorized vehicle other than a snowmobile, unless authorized by permit, lease or easement, shall be permitted on a trail designated for use by snowmobiles.
(b) From December 1 to April 1 in any year no use of a motorized vehicle other than an all-terrain or off-road vehicle and an off-highway motorcycle, unless authorized by permit, shall be permitted on a trail designated for use by all-terrain vehicles, off-road vehicles, or both, and off-highway motorcycles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Attack of the Snow Snakes 2

After four days of no riding due to a slight cold, I was really looking forward to today! 

Then:  Again . . . while minding my own business . . .  the attack of the snow snake!

Yikes!  then, bummer . . . it was a good thing I had 12+ miles of walking practice at TUSCOBIA or I may not have survived.

Thank you to all my good friends who came to my aide, and whisked me home to safety (even to those of you who did not answer my call of distress.)

I can only look forward to tomorrow . . . and of early Sunday morn, meeting in the murky shadows of the Billy Irvin.

I do wonder:  Why can I ride over 10,000 miles in 12 months on O1 (single speed road bike) without a vicious attack of this sort, but can only manage some 600 miles on O2?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

25 Years and Malaise

First and foremost . . . CONGRATULATIONS to Farrow, Buffington and Kershaw at the Arrowhead 135.  And Jeremy, UNBELIEVABLE on a SINGLE SPEED!  WELL DONE BOYS! (I shall be forever humbled by Mr Kershaw)

It had been a peaceful 25 years since I last saw a start line.

Enter C P Farrow who graciously took me under his wing, and threatened me with certain death in the event I chose not to ride the "Heck of the North." 

Suddenly I had to train, and practice, and train and practice. 

Leaving my house at 9:00 pm to ride for hours on end, up again at 4:00am to ride even further.

Riding on snow and ice?  How can that be? 

What is this about I thought?  hmmm . .  .  strangely, having fun, enjoying myself. . . "What had I been missing, what's up with that??"  I thought.

Now I find a malaise has set upon me.  What am I to do?

Enter the CIRREM me thinks!  Of course . . . that will do it, lift my spirits, energize my tired, aging legs . . . onward and upward!

Finally, I wonder if we are: Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer and Clover or the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?