Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gravel Grinder & Commuter Interview - Rob Mosimann

Rob Mosimann is one of the most consistent and dedicated riders in the Twin Cities. He and I met on one of Randall's Midtown rides but I don't remember it. Rob is always at the same gravel races as I am and I can never quite keep up. I actually had to tell him, 'Rob I can't draft for you at 21mph. but I can draft off you." He is constantly encouraging and self-deprecatingly humble. He's intelligent and and unassumingly strong. And he knows his gravel gear. Plus he's accomplished what most of us gravel grinders have on our bucket list. Read on for more about Rob.


You are considered by many to be a super commuter - nothing stops you. Why do you do it?

I started commuting a few years ago when my daughter, then in college, got a summer internship and I had the stable-genius idea that instead of buying her a car, I would give her use of mine for the summer. That seemed logical until I remembered that I needed to get to work, proving an inverse relationship between intelligence and commuting by bicycle under all conditions. There’s also the fact that climate change scares the wits out of me – though it now sounds trite, minimizing my carbon output is important. Cycling is a door to an alternative climate reality.

How has biking changed your life?

My guiding principle is best stated by local cycling legend, Gene Oberpriller: “Bicycles are freedom.”  Growing up, it was the escape button from my parents and gateway to the huge, complicated and intriguing world of nearby New England towns. I graduated high school at the tail end of a bike boom when everyone got a bike to end dependency on foreign oil. Bike touring was hot for a second or two and my brother and I crossed the country in our late teens, teaching us more life in three months than we had learned to that point. I kept riding after that, during a period when riding a bike as an adult meant that you were either a dork or a pro, and I was not a pro. I took a long sabbatical from cycling and then picked it up again while going through a rough patch of middle life  and rediscovered that it was my outlet for pure joy.

What is the most unexpected way cycling has impacted you?

I have always loved cycling. I never realized that so many other people share that passion. It is a connection I have to engaging, passionate and crazy people. We are in the middle of a cycling renaissance and we, the cycling community, are a force for good, bad traffic manners, appalling fashion taste, chain grease and all. There has always been talk of the ways that road racers differ from transportation cyclists who are a different breed than mountain bikers who don’t hang with the wicker basket retro steel ubanistas, and on and on. But we all have more in common than not, and this big, bountiful movement is what I never expected.

How do you stay so positive all the time? Especially on the bike in a grind it out horrible situation?

Ha! Do I fool everyone? My brain churns out large quantities of negative internal propaganda on hard rides. But I have been in so many precarious situations that I now have a rich portfolio of doing dumb things and surviving them to draw from. Like the time I crossed North Dakota from east to west wherein I learned the concept of a prevailing wind. There’s not much to stop wind out on the prairie. Day in, day out, that wind laughed hard in my face. I credit that week with teaching me the art of hunker down and grind.

What piece of cycling gear are you obsessed with now? Why?

Tire choice for gravel racing fascinates me. I run heavy, durable tires, but the trend to big light tires like the ones that Panaracer makes for Compass, and running them tubeless, is interesting. Personally, I’ll err on the side of not flatting than having the fastest wheels. Though I will be on a podium when night stops being dark -- those with a shot at glory weigh the arguments differently. And, by the way, bicycles as a whole can and should be objects of unspeakable beauty and therefore never painted Celeste Green.

After doing DK200 last year - what's your next challenge?

The DAMn, of course. Ultimately, the Great Divide Route, with extensions north to Alaska and south to Argentina. I have no idea how, but surely ignorance is not an obstacle.

What music/playlist are you listening to now when you ride?

One of my goals this year is to get a speaker to play music on the bike. In the meantime, the listening room in my head is a disorganized mess of Charlie Parr, Ben Weaver, The Last Revel, Drive by Truckers, Bruise Violet, Low, Giacomo Puccini, Joy Division, Dead Horses, Bob Mould, Son Volt, Dessa, Maurice Ravel, Happy Apple, The Weavers, Sonic Youth, Trampled by Turtles, Grant Hart, Fugazi, The Blind Shake, Gabriel Faure, POS, Kurt Vile, alt-J, Bad Bad Hats, Husker Du, Mississippi John Hurt, Sleater-Kinney, Dave Brubeck – ad infinitum. Music and cycling are what drive me and are mutually reinforcing.

What social media connections do you want to share?

I’m a social media introvert, but do have public accounts on Facebook and Strava under my birth name.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gravel Grinder & Commuter Interview - Kiatonda Oslin


I don't remember when I first met Kit. But she seemed to be just about everywhere I was riding. I think I actually knew the aura of Kit before I met her. There was always this rad woman who was at every group ride or event I was doing but crushing them. She was always there. Consistent and smooth. When you get to know her you find out that she likes heavy metal music, multiple shots of espresso at once, and all things Bianchi. And she is one of the most encouraging and inspiring riders around. But the best word that I think describes her is badass, in the good way. Here she is in her own words.

How did you get into cycling? 
My daughter moved away for college and I no longer knew what to do with all my free time.  I got a bike to ride just for exercise and to be outside and explore, however I have always played sports growing up so I found that I renewed my competitive streak and started wanting to find others that liked to ride and push themselves.  I took my bike to work one day and was going to ride after work and my boss saw it, and said, "I didn't know you rode?"  I told him just for exercise and fun.  He invited me to ride with him one day.  When we rode he told me I should be racing, and I said, nah, probably not race, but would love to meet other people to ride with and learn to group ride.  That Christmas he bought me a SPBRC club membership and the entry to the Beginner Race Program and my bonus for that year at work was an Orbea Onix.  This started all the madness.  ;)  I went to the beginner race program the 1st night with intentions of just meeting people to ride with and left there determined I would race that year and I did.  My first year of racing I did 47 races, I then knew I was addicted, but also knew it would evolve. 

Who inspires you to ride? Why? 
EVERYONE!  I love riding in general and find inspiration in every single person I get to meet and ride with.  Sharing stories, accomplishments, passion sets me on fire.  So, I have to say there is not one particular person really, I'm not really a fan girl of a particular pro racer, I find inspiration from getting new people (especially women) into cycling.  To meet someone (and this happens every year) that tells me, I ride by myself, but I want to ride in a group and feel comfortable.  This was me, so I get it and I know what it takes to get past the fear and be opened up to where cycling can take you and I love to lead others down this path, and am so grateful for opportunities through NOW Bikes Arden Hills to have the platform to do this each summer, by leading their ladies rides each summer. 

What is your fascination with Bianchi all about?
OH, now you are in trouble....  ;)  as I mentioned before I started riding on an Orbea, and actually my second bike was a Orbea Ora TT bike, and my 3rd commuter was a TREK Portland (which I sold immediately, it just did not connect with my body)   All of these except the TREK were bonuses from work.  Now, it was time for me to upgrade my road bike and I was still racing but also enjoying doing century rides all over the cities, so I wanted a bike I could race but also be comfortable on long rides.  And this time I would want to pick perfection as I was using my own money.  Fortunately I am still a member of SPBRC and racing for them through Grand Performance so we get some great club deals on bikes and components and Dan takes very good care of me.  So I was off, the 1st bike I rode was the Bianchi Infinito C2C and I fell head over heals with the way the bike felt like an extension of me, I felt like a little kid, I could play and be punchy but also would ride from morning until dark and want to get up the next day and do it all over again.  You just can't beat that feeling, especially at age 40.  But I didn't want to get carried away (surprise)  so I went out and test rode some other brands and models that compared to the Infinito.  Specialized, TREK, Cannondale, Fuji, etc...  but all I wanted was to go back to the Infinito and ride it again.  So I did, and again nothing compared to the ride of this bike.  Since that day, I have been adopted into an amazing Bianchi Family of Bianchi shop dealers, associates, and bike owners and I treasure these people with all my heart.  We truly are a family!  Since that first Infinito I now have the Infinito CV that I upgraded almost 2 years ago, I have the Bianchi Zurigo for my gravel/snow bike, and I have a Bianchi San Jose single speed for when I feel the need for steel.  I love them all, they all have their purpose, and I am always learning what Bianchi has coming next and making plans for what will be added to the stable.

What is your greatest accomplishment on the bike?
I'm still working on my big goal which will come in 2019, but to date my biggest accomplishment is probably the 16,000+ miles I rode last season, and completing my 1st 1,200K event last September.

What do you like most about bike commuting? 
Mostly just not being stuck in traffic, and free to just pedal and pass cars, meet up with friends.  You feel a sense of freedom, accomplishment and a smile that is hard to remove when you get home for the day.  It just makes you feel good.
**her commute is 20 miles one way. 

What is it you like most about gravel biking? 
It is very different than road.  It's very similar to the same reason I'll ride a 600K, but when I race I love to CRIT.  It's a shift mentally.  Long rides are about convincing yourself you are not tired, or sore and you can keep going, you are strong,  you can complete this.  CRITs and Gravel are more mental.  CRITS are me against what other people might do, how you can play and get away.  Gravel is about constantly finding that line, and staying on top of it. Then when you get to mix Gravel with Long Distance, like DaMN (Day across Minnesota) ...  HEAVEN!!!!

How do you convince/inspire women to move from spin class to outdoor riding?
For me, at times is it a challenge, because of the type of riding I do for myself, sometimes, if they don't know me, they are intimidated.  As if I couldn't possibly want to do a 20 mile ride or ride at 13-15mph.  But for me, I love those rides just as much.  I love talking to them while they ride with me and being able to physically show them an example of how to ride in a paceline, or sit on someone's wheel.   If I can talk them into coming out once, most always they are hooked.  And if they are friends of mine that want to try group riding, it's a piece of cake.  It's hard to hold in all the excitement and passion I have for cycling so I like to share it with everyone that feels it too, even if it's just a little bit, it grows like wildfire!


What is on your bucket list for rides?

My big goals this year are to do my 3rd R12 (200K a month consecutively in the state of MN, https://www.minnesotarandonneurs.org/), my 4th and 5th SR (Super Randonneur 200, 300, 400, 600K- I want to do this twice this year)  and I will do another 1200K this year - Next year is my big goal of doing ParisBrestParis 1200K,  This only happens once every 4 years so 2019 is my year.   



What music playlist are you listening to now when you ride?

* I like an array of music much to peoples surprise, as I do listen to a lot of heavy metal, it's just something about the angry drive of guitars and double kick drum that gets me hyped up, but I also like Styx, Journey, Zeppelin, etc.  Even a couple of country songs, but not a big country fan.  So, I don't really create playlists that often, I just pick genres and roll with whatever comes on. It's all just depends on my mood for the moment.

What social media connections would you like to share?

I'm on all of them.  I am inspired by seeing what everyone is sharing and what they are up to.  If feels like a way to stay connected to like minded people when you can't always see them face to face everyday.  I do my best to stay surrounded on social media and in real life to positive vibes that aspire you to do and be more.  
         Kiatonda "Kit"  Dawn Oslin - facebook 
         kito1968 - Instagram
         @kiatonda - twitter
         Kit Oslin - Strava

Friday, January 5, 2018

Gravel Grinder & Commuter Interview - Matt Gryiewski

Matt Gryiewski and I met at the back of the pack - literally. It was one of Midtown's long Saturday hilly rides that Matt and I met and had to work together to finish the ride. Since then we have been on many other adventures, some ill advised, most of them with searing heat, rain, or cold. But that doesn't stop us. Matt has a great heart for others and loves the sport of cycling as you can see below.

Matt Gryiewski - 37 - psychotherapist

Who got you into cycling as a sport? I had a friend in elementary school that invited me to go for a bike ride and I asked "to where" and he said "no, not bike to get somewhere but bike to have fun." After that he taught me a lot about the sport and the budding world of mountain biking. From then on I really got into it since he and I could make little challenges for ourselves like trying to ride to the mall, ride to the state fairgrounds, ride to a sporting event. For two middle schoolers, this was equivalent to riding across the country. We always felt accomplished. I supposed in many ways I've never stopped this pattern since.
What was your first or favorite bike? My first modern road bike was a Giant OCR and I loved it, it was perfect for me but was stolen when I was at work one day. I did events all over Southern California, Arizona and even one in Mexico with it. I think about this bike as being the bike that really brought me to a whole other level of involvement in the sport.
What do you like so much about bike commuting? I've always loved biking commuting because it adds a little of adventure and vigor to every day. Also, in many ways, it makes commuting more predictable in the sense that I pretty much know how long it takes me to ride to the places I go a lot and traffic and weather almost never impacts this and if it does it is usually something I can plan ahead for. Bike commuting also is an important way I save money, despite how much I spend on bike stuff it is still much less than using a car. It is also nice that I don't have to find additional time to workout outside the normal routine of going to work.

How far is your commute? When do you not bike commute?

Currently, my route is about 8 miles each way. The only weather condition I really shrink from is rain, especially when its cold. Being wet us much harder to handle than being cold by itself. Also, in the winter I use my fat bike to commute and sometimes you have to plan that out a bit more since it takes so much space. Sometimes I'll find another way to commute if I don't think I'll have room for it at the places I need to go.
What tips would you give someone about bike commuting?
I've been bike commuting since I was in high school and have learned a lot. Especially pertaining to commuting to work, I find it helpful to keep your work clothes at the office somewhere, along with some recovery food. This saves a lot of weight and helps keep the commuting routine simple. Also, if you can have a small electric fan at your desk this will do a great job drying you off when you get to work, much better in my experience than a towel. Most of my coworkers have no idea that I bike to work since I tend to be able to clean up so quick after I get there. On cold days I recommend putting on all of your riding gear as early as you can so you start to get hot in your house before you leave, or at the office before you head home.This will help you feel motivated to get out the door and ride if you are feeling lazy.  
What is your greatest achievement on the bike? Definitely, my greatest achievement on the bike was when I got 5th in the public category of the Everest Challenge stage race in Bishop,CA in 2006. It was a two-day 208-mile race with 29,000 feet of climbing. It was unforgettable scenery of riding the divide between the eastern Sierra mountains and Death Valley. They guys who used to put on the event did an amazing job providing nutrition and volunteer support too.

What is your favorite gravel bike race or event to do? Why?

My favorite gravel rides tend to be those in northern Minnesota. I really like the Grand Du Nord. Its just so different and Grand Marais is just such an amazing little town. I like the idea of basically riding to Canada and back. I think riding through forests is much more fun than riding through farmlands.

What is your next gravel race?

I usually like to start my season with the Mammoth Gravel Classic. It's in such a beautiful area and St.Croix Falls,WI is such a great town. I feel I didn't really get a fair crack at the 100-mile route last year since it rained so much so I'm hoping for a more suitable scenario this year.

What is your A race/event this upcoming year? 

Last year I joined the Minnesota Randonneurs and did a number of 200km rides. The next level is 300km and I'd like to attempt one of those in 2018 and if that goes well maybe even a 400km. 

What other races/events are on your list for this year?

Other events this year include a (hopefully) triumphant return to the Almonzo 100 after last years icebath that ended after 40 miles. I'll likely do the Hill Billy Gravel ride (Huston,MN) as training for Almazo, though it is much harder than Almanzo. I hope to also do the Grand Du Nord again and I also have a massive ax to gride with the Heck of the North and hope to return with a vengeance. 2017, in general, was a hard year for me due to some business travel that interrupted my exercise routine quite a bit. I hope to get back to doing what works for me for 2018.



What is one of your bucket list gravel races?

Someday I'd love to do a 1000km Randonneur event. I'd also love to do the Haute Route: Rockies, Bad Lands Gravel Battle, Lutsen 99er (though it is technically a mountain bike race), Dirty Kanza (of course), Gravel Conspiracy, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

What advice would you have for someone starting to get into gravel racing?

I would recommend checking out the websites for the events as often they will have the maps or cue cards on their year round. That way you can see where things go and if you wanted to could even go ride the route any time you wanted and shorten it if you needed to as well.  Also put some effort into choosing the right bike. I would generally recommend a bike with no less than 30mm wide tires. I would also recommend finding a way to bring three or more water bottle with. In general don't go to a gravel event expecting that the route has been planned to avoid major terrain obstacles and wind, quite the opposite! Gravel rides are hard and they are meant to be hard. 



What music playlist are you listening to now?

Lately, I've been listening to the groups Beyond the Waves and Infinity Shred. While I ride I also typically listen to Audible books, usually about psychology or therapy.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cross Training for Gravel Biking AKA running

I guess I couldn't stay away too long. (I started this post a few days and it sat there until now)
It's Christmas break and I decided to take the week off work. It's been wonderful sleeping in and staying up late binge watching Netflix shows. Season 4 of AMC's Turn was incredible.
The Christmas cookies and cheer are a double-edged sword. They're tempting and good but stick to you and slow you down.
not good as post-run selfies - but mustache-icles
As I shared in the previous post, I have switched from bike commuting to running now.

I don't ride a bike trainer.

I don't own a treadmill.

Being outside makes you tough and there's a lot of harder things in life to prepare for.
This is just training.

It's been a tough week to start running seriously again.

I am committed to running the half-marathon Presidents Day weekend and have my training plan in place. It's good to hold me accountable or I'd sit around and veg out and then wonder why I gained so much weight this winter!
I started off running 3.5mi. and then upped it to 4 and next became 5mi. It was good and I felt my body say it was ok.

But the weather outside is not cooperating. Actually, it's just really really cold. Thankfully there is not much slush to run through outdoors. Just packed ice and snow. I run with my Yaktrax on and seem to get good grip to not slip. The first few runs were rather slow for me, around the 9mi./mile mark. When it is Zero degrees I don't move too quick.

For New Year's weekend we were able to travel and see the in-law's. We also spent the day at the new Recreation Center. I ran 5mi. on the new indoor track but due to the steel building, Strava did not record my GPS track. I had to use all my fingers to keep track of the number of laps and miles. Pretty sure I ran more than the 5miles but was happy to hit the stop at 42 min. and think that was probably fair. 8:24 per mile.
It was good to see my Watertown Triathlon buddy there too who informed me about  a foot pod he uses to track his laps/distance and how it syncs with his watch. I told him I would have to look into that.

This week, on Tuesday it did warm up to 12 degrees. It felt downright balmy compared to the 0 deg. and windchill from last week. I ran faster too. In part warmer weather makes it easier to breathe but also I am starting to reap the rewards of running for 2 weeks already. I ran 4 miles at 8:06 pace. That bodes well.

I don't take too many pictures when I am running since I am focused on my pace and traction and body position so screenshots and post-run selfies will have to do. Plus I have my phone strapped into a holster on my arm that is not easy to access.

Well, so far so good. I checked my excel spreadsheet/training plan and am on target. I am running 4mi. every other day with a 5mi. run on Saturday's now. The weather pattern has not changed so it's still zero degrees out with no precipitation in the foreseeable 2 weeks. Gotta keep the mindset right. Toughen up. This is just training.

Keeping one foot in front of the other and beating everyone sitting on the couch....
Until next time.
Paul

Friday, December 22, 2017

Goal ride, 5,000mi. in one year

Marshall Ave. looking south into downtown Minneapolis

I achieved the goal of 5,000 miles by bike in a year on Monday Dec. 18th. It was a few days before I thought I would when I mapped out what it would take to achieve it. I had planned that it would be done the week before Christmas since I would not be commuting to work the following week but with the nice weather it made it possible to do it early in the week. 


Here is the tracking sheet I used to gauge whether or not I was on track. On the left are the weeks and dates as well as estimated mileage commuting and my starting and finishing mileage for the week. On the right is weather and actual mileage for the day of that week. I used a formula to insert the total into the current week (column C) to see how many miles I had left. I hadn't updated the formula when this was taken but reflects the Monday morning commute into the office. So, I knew I had only 11.3 miles left before hitting the 5,000 mile mark. I knew I would cross that on my way home on Monday since it is a 16.8 mi. commute. 
The weather on Friday was warm-ish for December and had a south wind which is a tailwind for me. So I began to think about which route I would take home. 
It didn't take long for me to decide. I was going to take the route that went past our church. 

You see, this has been a big year for me, my faith and our church. I biked from work to church many weeks this year for Wednesday night services during Advent and Lent and to help with Confirmation classes. Our church also is going through a transition now and I am on a committee that meets every other Tuesday night. This kind of thing would not have been possible before because my wife has Lyme's disease and was too sick for us to participate more at church. Thanks be to God that she is better now and we are able to plan and commit once again.
Additionally, I committed in January 2017 to listen to the as much of the Daily Audio Bible podcast as I could this year with the goal of hearing all of the Bible and Brian's teachings in a year. I usually listen to 3-4 days on one ride in. I am about a month behind as of this writing but have never tried reading or listening to the entire Bible in a year. I have learned so much and appreciate Brian's words of wisdom and his commitment to 'take the next step forward' in this journey. 

So back to the 5,000 mile mark. 
I stopped by our church on the way home and had a friendly dog-walker stop and ask if she could take a picture of me. I was a fun interaction as she said 'what are you doing, and looks like I could help'. I explained that this is the 5,000mi. mark for the year and that I attend the church and she was happy to help. 

What I haven't said yet is that for the last 3 days of commuting - my rear hub sounded like it had marbles in it. The steel frame of my Bianchi echos that noise quite loudly. The positive side of that is everyone could hear me coming. The downside is I didn't know exactly what was wrong and worried that it would give out on me before I crossed the line. It sounded like if you took about 3-4 marbles and put them into a metal cocktail shaker and gave it a good shake. So, I knew my time was limited. It all worked out in the end. 
I did the truck-bike commute on Tuesday and dropped the bike off at NOW Bikes for repair on my way home. Ryan is always so cheerful to greet me when I bring my bike in for repair. They do excellent work and are super people. He'll fix it up for more riding to come.

So what is next?
Last year I took the month of January off from biking. This was because we didn't have health insurance due to a change in my contract status and income. So Sandy and I decided that it would be best if I did the least risky activities in January so biking next to cars was out. What I learned was I could run again without pain and enjoy it. So January 2018 I will do the same. I already started looking at setting a goal and have once again created a training plan on an Excel spreadsheet. I'd like to run a half-marathon in February so I have a reason to get out and train every week. I think it's do-able so I have asked/challenged a couple friends to do it with me. It's the weekend of President's Day, Feb 17th in White Bear Lake. So off to a new challenge and goal. If you would want to run it with me, let me know. You'll probably be faster but I'll beat everyone sitting on their couch. 

To wrap things up this may be the last time you hear from me in a while. 
I have debated what to do with this blog. My idea is that it would serve as a diary of my rides, inspire others, provide equipment info and advice, and I dream that I could do interviews and post podcasts of everyday people who do extraordinary things through cycling. However, considering what it would take to make it successful and talking to someone who has done this before, it would be a ton of work. 

Sandy is feeling so much better and saw how easy it was for me to start this and said - I can do that!
She has had a dream for a couple years to launch and run a child training/parenting program. We framed up a blog site a year ago and she mapped out the topics she wanted to cover. She even researched how to turn a blog into a viable business and connected with a few others who do this now for their main income. Now, she is ready and I am excited to be a part of it. We bought a good microphone for podcasting and are on our way. Check it out here Simple Intentional Parenting

I'll be back in February to diary about the half-marathon training experience and describe the new goal for the spring gravel racing season. 
Until then.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 



Thursday, December 14, 2017

5k - not this week, why I ride outdoors and hate to pay for races

First of all, thanks for all the interest in the blog. I never expected so many views. Thanks for the clicks. Submit comments, questions, or suggestions in the comment box below or feel free to e-mail me or contact me on Facebook.

This week I'm not going to make it and that's ok.
It was my plan to achieve the goal of 5,000 miles in a year the week before Christmas.
I'm at 4,971 tonight and even though less than 30 miles from the goal, it is not probable this week.
As my previous post said, I need to balance my biking with all of my family committments and other priorities.
One of my priorities is to not be dead-dog tired at work. So tomorrow I am driving and just riding 1 mile across the Stone Arch bridge to work. I hate paying to park in downtown Mpls. so found some on street parking that is free. Still not super easy, takes a bit longer, have to dress accordingly. But tomorrow is Friday so it makes it easier. Truck bike commute it is.

This week was kind of cold. There were some flurries in the morning and that led to some slush. The shoulders still had plenty of salt residue to keep them clear but the bike paths were mostly packed with ice and a bit of snow. The studded tires I have work great but it's like pedaling through sand on a beach. It significantly slows my commute time but conversely increases my core temperature.
Here's a pic of the effects of trudging trough the slush.
You'll notice the front fender only covers the rear part of the tire so the brakes were pretty caked with snow and slush. The front derailleur also is a big collection point.
The nice stainless steel vacuum Thermos that fits easily into my bottle cage is usually full of coffee. On days like this the rear derailleur drinks some to function properly. It doesn't care what origin it is, as long as it's warm. Thankfully when I got inside, I was able to spray it off in the mop sink - a new perk at work this year. I plan to use it to stave off the salt damage to components. 

Most of the other bikes I have seen en route this week are Fat Bikes - not as many skinny tire/studded bikes. The locker room at work is also empty enough now I can play my own music. It's kind of fun to see the same hearty, dedicated riders out on the same route each day. There are a few that I see in the same sections of my route every day. Wish I knew who they were but just a quick wave and we pass each other leat we blind each other with out headlights. If there are any readers that take the E. River Road/Graco route let me know.

Back to the 5,000mi. quest. 
I mentioned that I am driving tomorrow and only getting the 2 bike miles in. 
Saturday we have 3 different family activities and one requires me to drive the kiddos hither and yon.
I could take the bike out but would rather consider it a recovery day and look forward to crossing the finish line next week. I also don't usually ride on Sunday since we have worahip at church, another priority, one that conflicts with a lot of fun rides, and football to watch, much lower priority, and a plethora of groceries to buy and sort through. Remember the 5 kids, they eat a ton of food. 
So next week, 5k it is.

One thing that makes this kind of a big deal to me is that all of my miles have been outdoors. I have been checking my other riding buddies profiles and some have long eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the year. They didn't make a big deal of it but most of them also ride indoors. This is not to diminish their achievement. I just don't like riding my bike indoors. I did it once or twice to see what it's like. It's fine. It's like the difference between running on a treadmill versus running outdoors. There are many pluses to it. The pros do it. People recovering from surgeries or injury do it. Power trainers do FTP & oxeygen tests and it works. They come out in the Spring just as fast if not faster than before.

However, I think of the adage about a tree growing in a windless environment and how the root structure doesn't grow. That makes me think riding outdoors has more advantages. But I am not a professional trainer, just a normal guy. Plus, it's cheaper.

This is not to say I would not ride indoors. If I had Zwift and the awesome Wahoo Kickr, I'd be riding indoors  (insert priorities for spending money on the kids and groceries and not on my biking toys). I like to think that by riding outdoors, even though slower, and more dangerous than the trainer, it builds my base strength and core and more importantly my bike handling. 

Some might say riding outside in the winter increases my level of fortitude or bad*ss-ness. I think it prepares me to not wimp out on any ride. It's tough. It's cold. It's slow sluggin' just like some of the gravel races I do in the spring. It builds my mental ability to deal with adversity in ways that spinning or pushing myself on the trainer cannot. You see I am in it for the challenge, not to see how flat out fast I can ride. The challenge of any adventure or ride is what keeps me motivated. Mostly people think I am just crazy though.

This brings me to another philosophy I have been contemplating, I hate paying for races. Not only do I have to feed the kids (top priority) I hate paying for things that should be free. 
I see this week is the final week to enter the Dirty Kanza registration lottery. I watched online last year as the registration debacle unfolded. It sold out in mere minutes and some peoples queue were clogged and didn't get in. I checked the site and it's $100 to register for just the 100 mile race. That's for an unsupported race. You get a hug and maybe a t-shirt for finishing. Plus the once in a lifetime accomplishment of finishing it - which is kind of priceless. That's why it's on my bucket list to finish the 200 miler at some point, but right now, I'm not paying to race it - at least not $100. I can go down there any other weekend and ride the same roads for free. Thanks .gpx files and Garmin. Who knows, I may even catch one of their free training rides. I understand these races cost money to host. I might make a donation to charity or a contribution to pay for a porta-potty at the start, some post-ride food, or a t-shirt. But paying for the privilege to ride on roads that are not closed off and no race support - no thanks.

Cycling is not cheap in itself and it also costs plenty to keep your bike in race shape and have the proper equipment and nutrition. That also doesn't factor in the cost of travel - gas, food, and lodging to get to the race. So, it better be worth it. The challenge, experience, the reward and cost. 
Just sayin'. I'm not sayin' it needs to be the way you do it - but for now my ethos is keep 'em free and you will get the right kind of riders. Notice the 2017 rides I am planning to do are all free. 
So, to close things out, what do you think I should do to celebrate the 5k milestone? 
Comment below or send me a message. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Quest for 5,000mi. & the improbable likelihood of being close

So 5,000 miles is a long ways.
When I Googled how far it was West to East across the U.S. I realized that it is practically across the country twice.
Some people set goals for the year. I'm not a great long range planner. Usually something happens 2 weeks in that kills my plan.

I've had a good year on the bike.
Probably the best year to be totally transparent.
I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has great bike facilities, a locker room, and supports a flexible work schedule if needed. I have been able to bike to work most days I wanted to.

I also, as the widget to the right suggests, track most all of my rides using Strava. So when I opened the app and clicked my profile mid-October to my surprise I had exceeded 4,000mi. this year.
I thought, 'wow, that's a lot and I could achieve 5,000 miles by January if I try hard'.

So, you may be reading this saying wow that's a crazy lot of miles and I could never do that.
You may be right, but keep reading. I have great circumstances. My commute to work is around 17 miles one way or 34-35miles a day.
If you cannot commute to work, it would be super hard to achieve 5,000 miles in a year.
If your commute is 4 miles one way, it too would be hard.

What looking at my Strava results did was prompt me to set another short term goal that was realistic and achievable given the right circumstances.
Some people may scoff at using Strava to track every little mile, but for me, it has paid off because it provides me with a good goal and a way to look back on my year.
*Strava Rant* I am not a KOM hunter. Tried it once, didn't pay off. If it happens it happens. I am only interested in KOMs that may be on my route and am certainly not naïve enough to think I can out sprint a youngster with a tailwind and strong leadout man or three with a 54 tooth TT bike. I once held a KOM in my neighborhood for about 1 hour until someone came up from behind and eeked me out by a few seconds thanks to the strong tailwind. Took the joy right out of my day when I had to tell my wife and kids 'hey, that KOM I just won, I just lost.'

Back to my stats. When I realized how close I was to 5,000 miles for the year. I did what I find natural. I'm a project manager and a data guy, so I created a tracking sheet in Excel and figured I could achieve my goal if I rode 102mi. a week from mid-October to the week before Christmas. 102 miles is my work commute both ways x3. So if I am feeling ambitious and the weather is good and I bike 4 days, I can bank some miles. I even added in a formula to auto calculate the balance of miles I will need to ride in the final week. It's my kind of geekery - simple but motivating.

The big what if has everything to do with the weather.
What if it snows. What if it gets really really cold. What if it rains like cats and dogs and then freezes like 6 inches deep and sticks like glue to the road?
Well that did happen this past week. On Monday it was 50 degrees on my ride home at 5pm and it turned to rain and snow overnight and in the morning it made for the worst commute yet this winter. I didn't ride in because I had a church meeting after work and it was horrible out. It took me 1:11hr. to drive what normally takes 30 minutes. I didn't see but maybe one or two bikers out in it and it didn't look like they had any other form of transportation.

November was a great month weather wise. A bit on the cold side which had me guessing at the best combo of socks and shoe covers and shoes and foil. I never quite figured it out. Then December warmed us up to shock us with the blast of freezing rain and now cold temps in the teens and twenties. So my total miles in November was pretty consistent. I averaged 109 miles per week because it was dry out. I also was able to ride my Felt road bike with slick tires.

So now we are into December and the snow and ice have come to stick around. I switched to my new to me Bianchi too-nice-to-be-winter-beater flat handled road bike and put my studded tires on. After the first couple rides, adjusted the psi, and feel comfortable once again and plan on crushing my goal the last week before Christmas.

So hopefully, this inspires you to take a look at what you can do to finish the year strong. The roads will clear off with the sunlight and salt. Get your mountain bike out with knobby tires and take a few laps. The clear crisp air is good for you and the biking will keep your core temperature up more than you think. Let me know what your goals are in the comments below.
Happy riding!