Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Scary Pacific Bicycle Stem Break

Whoa! It looks like the stem snapped right off on this Pacific. I don't know the story since I saw it parked at the bike rack where I work. There was no other damage so I'm hoping the bike was either not moving or at low speed when the part failed. Be careful out there!

Broken Pacific bicycle stem

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Madison to Barneveld Ultramarathon

I wouldn't call myself much of a runner although I do take the occasional jog along the lake. This summer Ana (la Cabra Blanca) mentioned that she was interested in running another marathon. She proposed running from Barneveld to Madison (31 miles/50 kilometers) so I decided to try to tag along.

We are fairly good at running but not so good at selfies. At the start of the run:
Johnny Cash with fancy shoes.

Ana knows where she's going to end up on the podium! Sorry about the thumb on the lens.

We ran east on the Military Ridge State Trail, starting in Barneveld and running through Mount Horeb, Klevenville, Riley, Verona, and Fitchburg on the way to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The trail had a little snow in places but was solid. It was about 35 degrees and foggy, with mist hanging in the air. We started out at a 10 minute-per-mile pace and the first 15 miles passed quickly. 

Riley was the half way point. We thought about stopping in for a Riley Cooler but decided against it. It was the right call because the run was about to get tougher.

Ana looking ecstatic. She was thrilled for the whole run.
I've never noticed these signs before. I think the DNR must put them up for snowmobilers.

Happy to have made it half way.

As we passed Riley the trail became squishy and my left knee started to hurt. Not bad enough to stop but bad enough to demand frequent stretching. Ana should have left me behind for the wolves to eat but she's too nice. We made it through the no man's land near Epic and 151 and were happy to see Verona.

I should stop here to say this was not my finest athletic performance. When we first came up with this idea I printed a "how to train for your first ultramarathon" guide and hung it on my fridge. I followed it for about a month (mostly - the volume they were expecting felt like too much to me). Everything was going well and I had a great 18 mile run on the Glacial Drumlin one morning.

Then disaster struck! I had a lot of pain in my right ankle and foot one day though I don't remember twisting it. I ended up taking a whole month off. Luckily la Cabra Blanca was willing to wait for me to get back in shape. The ankle never got back to 100% but it did heal enough that I was able to run again. I ran some short routes, a half marathon, an 18 miler, another 18 miler in an early season snowstorm, and then we decided my training was going to have to be good enough.

I didn't hit the wall on our run but I also didn't feel great. Ana ran gracefully and put up with my stretching breaks while I slogged it out. By the time we got to Madison I was still having a good time but I was also looking forward to being done.

First place, Barneveld to Madison Ultra!


We ended up finishing in about 6 hours. Ana definitely could have gone faster. I was happy just to have muddled through. At the end there was no crowd cheering, no excitement, just get in the car and go home and take a shower and be thankful the type 3 fun is over with success rather than failure. It was a good time though and I'm happy to have done it.

Yay for ultramarathoning! Is that a word?


As usual with this sort of thing it was tough but I'm happy to have experienced a run of this length. I would have liked to have been properly trained since it wasn't much fun to stop to stretch all the time but at least we cranked it out. Would I do it again? Never say never.

At the finish!


Later that day Sarah presented us with Barneveld Ultramarathon shirts that she had screenprinted herself! If I hadn't finished would she have kept the shirt?

Thank you Sarah!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chundered on the Baraboo River!

Devon and I paddled the Baraboo River, putting in at Giese Park (off Rock Hill Road, not marked on Google Maps as of 12/11/2015) and taking out at Highway 113 using paddles done by MilesPaddled.com as a guide. It was one of the best paddles I've done recently and well worth the one hour drive from Madison even though the day only warmed to 55 degrees.

My paddling partner in his Alpacka packraft.

We ran the class I rapid just before the Highway 12 bridge in Baraboo but I decided I wanted to paddle back into it for another go. I was using a kayak without a skirt since I don't have one (time to go shopping) and after I paddled back into the rapid for another go I got swamped and ended up upside down.

It was my first underwater exit in moving water but the water was deep and everything went about how you'd expect. I exited, grabbed the boat and caught my breath after a sudden submersion in cold water. I'm not sure it was a true chundering (a combination of churned and under) but I think the term is hilarious.


The packraft in the "rapids."
Drying off. We both had more dry clothes and it wasn't that cold for November in Wisconsin. If I kayak more in cold weather I'm going to need a skirt and a wetsuit. If I was desperate I could have bought new clothes at Gander Mountain since we could see the sign for the store from where this picture was taken!
Welcome to the Town of Merrimac sign in the river.


Old school kayak. It's not very forgiving.
Some riffles in town.
If you're looking for some small drops and riffles the Baraboo River is a good choice. The river was at about 340 cfm and 7.85 feet on the gauge. The bike shuttle was an easy one. The parts of the river outside of Baraboo were relatively flat so next time we might drop in at the Highway 12 bridge and take out at the end of town.

Note that similar paddles on the Baraboo are detailed in Mike Svob's excellent Paddling Southern Wisconsin:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Few Climbing Pics From Devil's Lake

I just came back from some spring climbing at the lake. Here are a few pics:

Matthew at the top of Two Pines Buttress.
Standing on the edge near The Rack.
It's the lake - bring lots of webbing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Race Results: Sun Prairie Cup Cyclocross

I raced cyclocross in both the cat 4 and single speed classes this past Sunday at the Sun Prairie Cup, part of the WCA cyclocross series.

Cat 4

I started near the back of cat 4. I may have been called up since I got points for 4th at Badger Prairie but I missed the call ups. Sun Prairie has a good course that I remembered from last year. After only a portion of the first lap I had already made progress through the field:


The top of the short run up on the first lap:


Another shot at the run up. I should probably be carrying the bike but it's really small hill. In the single speed race I figured out that I could ride it if no one is in the way. Note the duct taped shoe - that was a last second fix for a buckle that broke on my Bontrager RXLs. They're not a bad shoe but I would be disappointed if I hadn't bought them on sale for less than half price. Hopefully I can get another buckle from Trek.


I worked my way through the field, eventually finishing 3/53 without a lot of drama.

Single Speed

I was tired throughout the single speed race but I'm enjoying getting two races in even if I can't really give 100% for the second one. I took it easy and finished 4/15 on a somewhat flat rear tire after burping some air from it during a hurried remount. I'll have to be more careful getting back on the bike in the future. This is one drawback to the tubeless setup, though this is the first time this has happened.

Here's a pic of the podium. Though I'm not actually sponsored by Planet Bike it's great to represent them since they made the race possible. Thanks to Michelle for the photos!



How did you do at the Sun Prairie Cup? Post a note in the comments!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Furthercross 2012



FurtherCross 2012 at Badger Prairie in Verona was a muddy mess. It had been pouring all morning and the ground was saturated. On the short drive to the park I was excited since it's been a long time since I've been in a good mud race. Also, since being kicked out of the city parks, Madison's Wednesday night cyclocross practice has been held at Badger Prairie and I feel like I know the trails well.

I raced two races, starting with Cat 4. Cat 4 was a good-sized field, 44 riders, despite the rain. I started from the back but by the end of the first muddy field straight things were looking good. The straight ended with a couple of s curves and then a slippery run up. I passed a few more on the sprint up the hill. Things were looking even better but a doubting voice spoke up "You haven't been riding at all. You're the only rider here on a singlespeed any you're probably overgeared (36x16). You're going to blow yourself up." So I took the pace back a notch and continued to pick my way through the field, eventually finishing fourth for my best cyclocross finish ever.

The singlespeed race was less fun. It started right after the end of the Cat 4 race so that was strike number one. Strike number two was that it was still raining and the course was turning into chocolate pudding. Strike number three was that I really haven't been riding at all and the first 30 minutes of racing had taken their toll. There wasn't anything left in the tank. The course was starting to feel daunting, especially the huge stair run up about half way through. The worst part wasn't the stairs though. It was the slope just after the stairs. Too steep to get back on the bike, it was a long jog (sometimes walk) to the top. I finished 7/13 in singlespeed and was happy to get it over with.

Did you race FurtherCross? What did you think of the mud? Post a comment!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Single Speed Tubeless Cyclocross Bike - Schwinn Fastback CX

I built a new bike recently for cyclocross racing this fall. It started with an old aluminum Schwinn Fastback CX frame I bought at the Revolution Cycles swap. It's set up as a single speed with a tensioner. It's also set up tubeless. I'm really happy with the way it rides and also how light it is at only 17.8 pounds. It's much faster than anything else I've ever used for cyclocross, despite being somewhat new to single speed. I haven't been riding at all this year but I finished 17/80 in cat 4 on the first day of the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie so I can't complain. Things were looking even better on the second day until I crashed and damaged the bike beyond repair.

My gearing started at 36x16 but I've since moved to 38x16. With 38x16 and the half link it's setup in the magic gear and the tensioner isn't really doing anything as shown below. With 36x16 it needs the tensioner.

The tires are not intended for tubeless and neither are the rims. I used three wraps of electrical tape, caffelatex valves, and one cup (the cup included with the bottle) of Stan's fluid per rim. I've been inflating to between 35 and 40 psi. This setup is super light and has lots of traction. The front tire did come off the rim once but it was in an over the bars crash at the USGP where the bars were bent around and one of the brake levers came off! Lesson learned: if your front brake lever comes loose and you don't have brakes, don't keep riding.

Here's what it looked like out at Badger Prairie in Verona:


Here are the details, including prices:

Schwinn Fastback CX frame with seatpost clamp from Revolution swap: $100
Generic Chinese full carbon fork from ebay: $110
FSA RD-80 wheels from a friend: $80
Shimano 105 (?) crankset from a friend: $40
FSA Orbit IS-CX headset from ebay: $37
FSA Compressor steerer tube plug: $14
Panasonic Panaracer CrossBlaster tires from Amazon: $64
Thomsen seatpost from ebay: $30
Selle Italia Flite Ti I already had: $0
Cane Creek SCR-5 brake levers I already had: $0
Salsa chainrings (36 and 38 tooth) from a friend: $0
Sette singlespeed conversion kit from PricePoint: $14
SRAM PC 850 8 speed chain from PricePoint: $15
Half link from
Caffelatex tubeless valves from PricePoint: $15
Alligator cable and housing from PricePoint: $10
Sette bar tape from PricePoint: $8
Ritchey bars from a friend: $5
Soulcraft Convert chain tensioner from a friend: $10
Bontrager Race Lite stem from the swap: $5
Carbon headset spacer from ebay $3
Avid Shorty 4 brakes I already had: $0
Crank Brothers Eggbeaters pedals I already had: $0

Total: $560

So this wasn't exactly a bargain, but it isn't that bad. I probably could have saved myself a lot of hassle by buying something from the swap in February for about $600-1000 but I looked last year and I didn't see anything in that price range that wasn't already well used or really low end spec.