• The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.
  • The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike
  • The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.
  • The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.
  • The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.
  • The Eki Chronicles
    The Eki Chronicles A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.

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A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.

Tim

Tim

A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.

Posted by on in Training

b2ap3_thumbnail_Duluth-to-G.M-pushing.jpgNot sure if this is true or not, but this winter seems to be colder than usual. In fact, it feels to me to be much colder than any I can remember. Maybe it's just because I'm in it right now. Come summer I'll forget all about frozen toes and frozen fingers. Meanwhile, concerns of losing body parts are at the forefront of my mind.

As I struggled through my 25 mile commute last night in a wind chill that approached 40 below I thought...why? The 6 x 4 inch ice chunk that flew off my balaclava as I turned my head to look for cars held my attention as the wind swept it down the road behind me at what seemed to be lightning speed. The sun had just set and I was about half way through the ride on my Mukluk. Normally, I would have been home by now, but the commute was taking me over twice as long as it would on a warm, dry day. Constantly buffeted by severe head winds combined with the soft winter tires was making this a ride to remember. The physical struggle however was not my chief concern as I felt bits and pieces of my body slowly freezing. First on my agenda was to keep my fingers and toes wiggling in an effort to keep blood flowing to them. As I pedaled on I noted how my core and arms had become stuck in the bike riding position. I hesitated to stretch or move in any unusual was as doing so would only invite cold into my wet clothing. My singular focus became...just get home!

Cold weather riding brings with it a whole new set of rules that must be followed. If one is not on board with the rules of the game, then one should stay on the couch. The things I focus on in the summer like tempo, good pedal rotation, and bike handling are not things to be concerned with when a flat tire could mean freezing to death. Now, I realize that you, the reader may be thinking, "C'mon Eki...freezing to death?" But, let me tell you that on the route I take when commuting "the long way" as I call it there are plenty of places where a guy could run into trouble and not a living soul would know about it for a very long time. Lets just say long enough to be able to pick me up in the position I was last in and toss me into the back of a pick up just to get what used to be me back to someone who knew me.

So, let me ask you, do you like riding in the cold? Truth be told, I'm not sure how fond of it I really am. Give me a warm summer day and several hundred miles to ride and I'm off with a smile on my face. Put the temperature south of 10 below, toss in a North wind and tell me to ride the "long way" home and I just may say, "can I do it in the summer instead?"

 

 

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Posted by on in Training

rencontre artiste It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
-Theodore Roosevelt

I noticed my two partners’ headlamps slowly disappearing into the distance until at last I was completely alone. Too tired to ride, but too cold to stop, I stumbled on, my weight heavy on the handlebars of my loaded Mukluk fatbike. My boots dragged through the loose snow as the strength to pick my feet up had left me long ago. I had been riding and pushing my bike for close to 16 hours in temperatures that hovered at ten degrees below zero. I was wet, exhausted, dangerously dehydrated, and freezing cold. A safe place didn't exist where I was. I had accepted that fear was my new companion.

Some months ago my training partner, Charlie Farrow, had suggested that we attempt a winter cycling trip from Duluth, Minnesota to Grand Marais, Minnesota via the North Shore snowmobile trail...in the winter! To our knowledge no one had ever completed this feat in an unsupported fashion. We wanted to be the first to cover the 146 miles of rugged terrain on our bicycles, promising to accept assistance from no one. The planning began in earnest with both of us agreeing that nothing could stop us except the ultimate authority on the matter, Mother Nature. Luck would play a vital role on this adventure; hopefully it would play to our favor.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PC280432.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_PC280449.JPGSo, is it possible to go on a vacation without a bike? I thought I'd try to answer that question when I purposefully left my Mukluk at home as I left with my wife for a week long vacation in Northeast Wisconsin. As we approached her home town, which happens to be a snow mobile mecca I wondered how I would do this with so many miles of hard packed snomo trails available. I told myself that time away from the bike would be good for me.

I must admit it felt weird to not have a tool available to me while being located in the remote small town of Pembine, Wisconsin. Somehow I'd be able to make it. Truth be told, I got used to sitting around and watching movies, oddly it felt good.

Soon enough we were loading the car one more time as we headed to our second destination of Appleton, just south of Green Bay. Here we'd enjoy the company of Amy's sister's family as well as some winter hot tub time and of course Packer Football! Unseasonably warm temps had us grilling out, washing cars, and dreaming of spring time. The dreams of warmer temps were soon dasheb2ap3_thumbnail_PC280471.JPGd by a vicious cold snap that left me lounging on the couch under a blanket for half a day. As I dozed off I thought of my bikes parked in my garage untouched. How long could I let them sit? How long could I go without significant exercise? The answer came quickly and clearly. Although, the "do nothing" life style is appealing it's no long term choice for me.

My rationale throughout the vacation has been this, "It's good to let yourself slip out of shape every once in a while, yob2ap3_thumbnail_PC290473.JPGu'll only come back stronger." Hope I'm right!

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PC120399.JPGStay tuned for a full report on of my recent Adventure on the salsa cycles website (blog portion). It should be up shortly after the new year.

-Eki

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PC160612.JPGThe date is set. The planning has commenced. The excitement builds. Adventure Awaits.

This writer and his trusty training partner, Charlie Farrow will soon depart Duluth on an adventure that is sure to bend the mind, body, and soul. More than one evening will be spent on the frozen ground. Outside support will be scoffed at. We are destined to reach our goal with what we carry on our bikes, our backs, and in our bellies. Our only luxury item will be a small flask, contents of which are yet to be determined. A sip from the flask will only be allowed if we can look each other in the eye and say, "job well done". 

I wish I could give you more, but the contents of this expedition are just too valuable to share right now. I promise there will be more to come, but for now we will continue to plan.

Stay tuned ...

Eki

 

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Sometimes a day off doesn't have to be spent on the bike. Sometimes doing the stuff you did when you were growing up is still just as cool now as it was then. Most importantly, it's who you do those things with that matters the most.

When I was a kid I spent at least one day each weekend with my Dad in the woods, whether it be hunting, fishing, or just sitting around kicking a fire. It didn't matter what we did as long as we were out there.

This Sunday we decided to go back to the way it used to be. As of late my Dad has become a bit of a gun buff so this day we'd shoot the guns, not at living things, but at targets.

The shooting was fun and at times a bit nerve racking, especially the .45, but the most fun was being back out there with him. It didn't take long before I was 12 years old again and I liked it.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PA120310.JPGAs I rode alone through the vast wilderness known simply as the "Underdown" something just didn't feel right. Sure my body was a complete wreck and I felt like I was barely moving, but there was an eerie feeling in the air. Was I completely alone? A quick check over my shoulder told me that yes, physically I was alone, but I found myself continually checking the trees around me, something was with me and I wasn't quite sure what it was.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PA020298.JPGIt's been a while, too long in fact, since I've met in a parking lot with a bunch of other people on bikes getting ready to head out on what is simply known as a "group ride". I still remember my first one when I mustered all of my courage and showed up in front of the Ski Hut (Duluth's premier bike shop) on my new mountain bike, hoping I wouldn't cause another rider to crash, embarrass myself, or get dropped off the back by what I thought were sure to be much more talented cyclists than myself. I think back to those days a lot, how I longed to be as good as some of those riders.

A busy race and training schedule has caused me to drift away from the weekly group rides, but recently I decided it was time to get back to what helped me fall in love with cycling. The weekly email came to me like it always does announcing the time and place for the ride. I made sure my schedule was clear so I could be there.

I showed up on time and ready to ride. The weather was threatening to ruin our little adventure, but I knew this crew would be made up of hardy northerners, a little rain wouldn't stop us. Riders began to roll in to the parking lot and as they did I began to think about the talent Duluth possesses in the way of cycling. Todd McFadden (winner of last year's Arrowhead 135 and countless other races), Nikolai Anikin (top tier cross country skier with Olympic blood in his veins - literally, his father earned 3 gold medals for xc skiing), Matt Ryan (HUGE power and a top 50 Chequamegon 50 finisher), Tim Andrew (always at the front of local races and super fast on a road bike), the list goes on. As the group continued to arrive I noted the treasure trove of talented cyclists that live in Duluth, Minnesota.

Ten pedal strokes into the ride I felt the first drop of rain hit my right cheek. A glance over my right shoulder to the west told me that Mother Nature wasn't kidding around and that maybe the Weather Channel was not as "all knowing" as I thought. The casual conversation and light hearted ribbing was a welcomed change from countless hours spent spinning alone through training rides. It felt like the old days again.

The guys teased each other about who was faster at the last race as well as who took the least amount of pulls during Duluth's recent running of the Heck of the North. To be sure, the pace was not for the beginner and there seemed to be little in the way of stops to wait for those that may have fallen behind. These riders all knew who the company they were keeping and the intensity of the effort reflected it. I sat in comfortably around the middle of the group and observed the strengths of the riders around me, the "roadies" powering through the open sections, while the "mountain bikers" let their skills shine on Duluth's challenging single track. I was having a lot of fun with these guys and I was on my bike ... that's always a good thing!b2ap3_thumbnail_PA020299.JPG

An hour in and the rain had established itself as not just a passing event. We were being pummeled by a steady down pour. Avoiding the puddles was a thing of the past as we made our way back to the parking lot. The group decided to retreat for the safety of our cars as darkness crept in, as did the cold wet chill aided by the dropping temperatures. As expected in most group rides a time to flex some muscle was upon us. Todd McFadden, the strongest in the group and most likely the strongest in the city went first. Up a double track section of what is known as the Amity Creek Trail, he hit the gas. I went after him with no illusions of staying with him, but rather hanging on for as long as I could. Truth be told, Todd can shed me from his wheel any time he wants, but this night I was proud of the fact that I was only gradually losing his wheel while conscious of the fact that he was probably only running on about 80% effort. Just then, I heard the familiar noise of tires on loose rock coming from behind and in a blur Matt Ryan absolutely flew by me! "Wow! Now that's some POWER", I thought. I marveled at his speed and reflected on the fact that I was riding with the best in the area - these guys are GOOD!

The remainder of the ride back to the car was uneventful apart from the chill that seeped deeper into our bones. Todd and I navigated the small stretch of trail that separated us from the parking lot in the dark. We joked about how the weather really wasn't that bad, "nothing a hot shower can't cure", I said. "Yeah, just think what it will be like in 3 months", was his reply. We parted ways, thanking each other for the ride and feeling just as happy as we would have had it been 73 degrees and sunny.

There's a beauty in the Group Ride that should never be forgotten. Get yours soon, you'll thank yourself for it.

 

Thanks guys, see you next time.  -Eki

 

 

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The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival is a mountain bike festival that many consider to be the standard by which all cycling events are judged. It comes in two versions, the Short and Fat and what is simply known as the "40". I'd be racing the 40 with approximately 1,900 others.

The 40 miles are made up of super fast rolling double track and gravel roads. With this not being your typical mountain bike race different tactics need to be applied in order to have the best day possible on the bike. If I had to explain these tactics to some one who'd never done the race before I'd keep my explanation simple and tell them to race it as if they were in a road race. In past years I'd strayed from this plan and often left the security of fast moving groups of riders in an effort to "go it alone" thinking that I could go faster if I left one group in order to find another up ahead. This leap frogging from group to group seemed to leave me more than exhausted in the closing miles of the race when I needed precious energy the most. This year I told myself that I'd stay more conservative by nestling into the comfort of a fast moving group, at least until the monumental "Fire Tower climb".

The Fire Tower hill is a multi level climb resembling steps. I believe there are 5 steps, with the final pitch being very steep and over loose rock. In order to stay mounted during this climb a rider must put their chin on the handle bar and focus, all the while hoping against hope that the rider in front of you is concentrating just as hard, because if he or she doesn't clean the climb you're not going to clean the climb. Passing this land mark means there are approximately 35 minutes left in the race, if nothing goes wrong.

With the infamous Fire Tower climb behind me I told myself that I would abandon any group I was with at that time and hit the last 10 miles as hard as I could with the hope that I could get to the finish in under 2.5 hours and in the top 100. A top 100 finish has eluded me for 7 years. Finishing among this crowd has been no easy feat for me. The Chequamegon attracts some the best cyclists from across the Midwest as well as the rest of the country. I wanted to gain entry into this club.

1.5 hours into the race I felt my strategy was working well. I had only gone super deep one time to close a gap that I had carelessly let form in front of me. I seemed to be handling the undulating terrain well as the climbs came and went without too much pain. My calculations told me that it was going to be close and I needed to stay on the gas if I wanted to reach these goals I had set for myself. The negative guy who lives in my head reared up at one point telling me that I'd never do it and that I should just lay off a bit, because it wasn't worth the hurt that I was now putting on myself. Quickly, I shook off the thought and told myself that I'd come too far and was too close to making the top 100 to give up now. I started marking riders out ahead of me, determined to get to their wheel and move past them. One by one I began to move through some of the riders I'd covered the earlier miles with, others I would never catch and I wished them well.

3 miles to go! Those 3 miles seemed like the longest 3 miles of my life, they just wouldn't end. Finally, I saw the familiar turn that put me up the final climb before the long descent into the finish. A glance to the gps told me that I was in front of my goal time and about to achieve a personal best!

I hit the stop button on the timer while it read 2:21, 4 minutes faster than my best time. I was happy to say the least, but I still didn't know my position. Amy and I searched for the timing tent and finally found it hidden back in the corner. I told one of the attendants my bib number and she punched it into her little machine. A slip of paper spit out toward me and I scanned it as fast as I could. There it was jumping off the page... usa private dating .com 97th Overall. A smile came across my face as I folded that slip of paper and shoved into my pocket. I was finally in the club! 

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Posted by on in General

 

Enjoy...

Eki

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anonymous The Great River Ragnar:  A relay running race from Winona, Minnesota to Minneapolis, Minnesota, some 200 miles of paved road, gravel, and bike path. Teams made up of 12 souls searching for more than 'just another running race' split themselves into two vans, (often rented, borrowed, or acquired by a means we shall not mention here) shove one runner toward the starting line and head off for the next "exchange" point where the next runner will await the arrival of the first in order to carry the torch or in this case bracelet, onward toward Minneapolis. This pattern would repeat itself countless times or so it seemed as one foot gets placed in front of the other with one goal in mind - finish.

http://truongsontech.com/tpoi/3278 Sometimes the journey is the destination.b2ap3_thumbnail_P8170049.JPG

My wife Amy first mentioned the Ragnar while we were discussing my tentative summer race schedule. We considered the conflicts that would arise as she pursued her interests in marathon running and I in bike racing. A glaring problem popped up as I mentioned the date of the North Dakota's Mah Dey Hey 100 mile mountain bike race. The race I'd thought about for a year was on the same date as something called "The Great River Ragnar". Amy expressed strong interest in participating in the race and went on to explain the concept to me. Confused, I listened and tried to come to terms with the "team concept" of the run. In all honesty it all seemed a little far fetched to me. I mean running 200 miles with two vans of 6 runners in each. How would the logistics of such a run be effectively managed. As she went on I must admit that my "full listening power" began to wane. However, the conversation presented itself again a few weeks later and Amy was becoming more determined to do this thing. We thought about how we could do both. I could take the car to North Dakota, she could rent a car or maybe jump in the back of someone else's. As time passed I began to think about how often she stands in the pit area of my races or drives with me to the far reaches of Kansas, the list goes on. North Dakota could wait. An opportunity was in front of her and who knew maybe in front of me as well. 

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I've been on sort of a mission lately. In search of a change to keep things "fresh" on the bike I've decided to dive head long into my Horsethief. Determined to learn how to use the bike for what it was designed to do - FLY!

Now, I'm a XC rider, always have been. In other words, I'm most comfortable when both my tires are firmly planted on the ground. When I do manage to get airborne I tend to stop breathing, stop seeing, and there's a whole lot of pucker sounds happening. I need to get over it.

Yesterday I lubed up the chain, took the Horsey off the hook in the garage and pointed it toward my local trail system in Duluth, known as the Piedmont Trails. Piedmont has a whole section devoted to big drops and air. I've always avoided it, pretending to be too cool for it as us cross country guys need to get our laps in, there's no time for goofing off. So, I skipped the work out for some "goofing off". Thing is, for me it wasn't playing around. I was dead serious and quietly worried that I would end up in the E.R. right in the middle of race season. Oh well, one can't worry about getting hurt, because what would ever get accomplished? I spied the first jump, a boulder in the shape of a ramp jutting out of the middle of the trail. "That's where I'll start", I thought. I rode past the rock looking at it closely as I passed. Once I was positioned at my starting point, the rock looming in the distance, almost laughing at me, I said out loud to myself, "You taught yourself to snow board, you can teach yourself this too." "Don't hesitate!", was the last thing through my head as I pushed off down the trail, gaining speed, and aiming for the ROCK. I hit it, thrust my body up as I felt the front tire leave the ground. Every thing went quiet and slipped into slow motion, I was in the air and things were going fine. The Horsethief touched down with both tires landing at the same time. The suspension soaked up the landing and I felt as if I had landed on a mattress. Grinning ear to ear I squeezed the brakes, turned around and rode back up to my starting point. 7 times I hit that rock, hucking myself higher and farther every time. It felt right.

I moved through the "black diamond" route, practicing certain sections over and over while simply skipping some sections as I needed to be honest about my limitations. I rode through a pure down hill course set up by some people who have a vision for what can be ridden on a bike that I do not share. Honestly, I'm not sure how any one could ride down the line they had cut out of the hillside above Skyline Drive. Truly SICK! I could barely walk my bike down it.

Day 2: 

I rode out to Spirit Mountain in an effort to practice that wildly popular Candy Land trail. This is the beginner down hill trail at Spirit, but it seemed like the perfect place for me to start. I could see the jumps and the lay out of the course, but just couldn't get the "flow", which is what is supposed to be all about. I "cased" landing after landing, slamming the suspension to it's bottom out point over and over. I was getting frustrated and called myself a "chicken" more than once.

Unable to afford the lift ticket I chose to ride up the mountain after each trip down. This is no small feat as Spirit is STEEP! Also, I figured I had not yet earned the right to use the chair lift, I was too much of a rookie. My final run down I took a little more risk and hit one of the jumps harder and faster than I had earlier. I felt myself lift off and begin to float. Just before I thought I was about to black out I touched down on the down slope of the second jump and the transition from air to ground was seamless. It felt sooooo good. I got a huge rush of adrenaline and instantly realized that this is what it was all about.

I'm not done hucking. All be chasing that feeling I got when I hit and landed that double - was it a double? I don't know, but it sounds cool. So, for now that's what I'm going to tell my friends.

"Yeah, when I hit that double it felt so good."

Eki

 

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Posted by on in Racing

b2ap3_thumbnail_P7270001.JPGThe Wausau 24, one of the most iconic of all mountain bike races. Superbly managed, the event attracts riders from across the nation. It boasts several categories that seem to entice all ranges of athletes, from the "first timer" to the seasoned pro. I'd be racing the 12 hour solo (geared) division, a race I'd entered 3 times in the past.

I came to Wausau this year with one goal I'd talk about and one goal I'd keep to myself. The goal I felt comfortable sharing with my wife Amy was the one that said, "I want to be on the podium". The one I kept to myself was the one I thought about the most, "I want to WIN".

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Posted by on in Training

Recently I was invited by Quinn Williams (the web designer of this site) to join him for a ride that he promised would show me a variety of riding, he wasn't kidding. I took him up on the offer and headed to the small hamlet of Poplar, Wisconsin ready for "a bit of every thing".

Quinn and I took off at around 9:00 a.m. He was on his recently built Salsa Big Mama and me on my Spearfish. This "loop" had us riding gravel, single track, double track, sand, and a bit of tar. We visited two counties and the towns of Brule and Iron River, Wisconsin.

I had a blast! And, truth be told I was pretty wiped out after this little jaunt around Wisconsin. Oh, and did I mention we saw approximately 3 other people in 5 hours of riding, just the way I like it.

Here's a peek at what we did.

 

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dating french in los angeles b2ap3_thumbnail_P6290488.JPGRace Strategy

The topic of race strategy first popped up while sitting behind a bacon cheeseburger and a pint of Surly Furious at Lutsen's Papa Charlie's. It was the night before race morning and I was politely reminded that I was "way too serious" by my good friend Quinn Williams and my wife Amy. Thing is, they were right, I was deep in thought about how the following day would play out, or better yet, how I wanted it to play out. I knew I had 99 miles of sloppy wet double track, gravel road, and a little single track in front of me. I needed to figure out how to get it done in a way that would leave me satisfied. Soon enough the thoughts in my head were being spilled out all over the table as Quinn pressed for details about what had me so consumed. I willingly shared as he was new to the game of racing this distance. I encouraged him to go hard at the front of the race as he could. Experience has taught me that this often plays to later advantages as the day unfolds. "Well, what are you going to do tomorrow?", he asked. Despite being intimidated by such a talented field of riders I told him I planned to go with what has worked in the past. I would go out hard off the gun, fighting to stay with the leaders if I could, and I'd commit to going "full blast" for the first two hours of the day, then settle into a more manageable rhythm. Quinn laughed at the notion of going as hard as possible for 2 straight hours and double checked my reasoning, "Are you sure you don't mean go as hard as you can for 10 seconds?" I went on to tell him that I felt there were three races within a race of this distance. The first being the race off the gun that involves landing with riders who are just a bit faster than you so that you can be pushed harder than you would go alone. The second comes in the middle as it turns to a game of just "holding on to the pace". Finally, the last race within is the one that involves going for as high of a finishing position as you can. However, as bonds form out on course this template of racing can fall to pieces as loyalties develop toward fellow racers and personal outcomes become less important. I'd come to learn b2ap3_thumbnail_P6280471.JPGthat these dynamics would end up weighing heavy on my mind in the Lutsen 99'er.

19 dating 17 year old legal california The Start

Lining up about 3 deep I felt relaxed as the minutes to start slowly diminished. Surveying the crowd of riders behind me I knew staying as close to the front was paramount. The odds of a crash occurring during the roll out of a race this size were huge, especially with 9 miles of tar between the start line and the first sign of dirt. Nervous riders were sure to be taking unnecessary risks in order to be in the position they felt they should be or possibly just riding too fast too early. I was aware that my heart rate was not alarmingly high, therefore I was not yet concerned with the pace. However, that would soon change as we hung a left off of the scenic Highway 61 of Lake Superior's North Shore and began our 1,000 foot climb toward the beginning of the race or should I say the gravel. The climb marked the first of what would be an eternity of sudden accelerations and deep efforts required to close gaps.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_8FVDbVyDfrcWwaJjr30KdRejlfkUuzjqH5kEhe1ayWs.jpgUnless you've been hiding under a rock you know by now that Salsa Cycles has just launched their 2014 Spearfish and Horsethief full suspension bikes in none other than MY HOME TOWN! I was super pumped to find out that Duluth would be the "launch site" as I knew the media assigned to cover these new additions to Salsa's line up would love our trails and our city, I just hoped the weather would hold up. Duluth is notorious for unpredictable weather, thus we "townies" really cherish the good days.

Day 2 of the 3 day affair took place in my home trails, known as the "Piedmont Trails". This trail system is a mere 3 minute ride (uphill) from my driveway. I tore out of work as fast as I could on a clear blue bird day in order to join the Salsa crew as well as the gaggle of media from the "who's who" of cycling magazines and dot coms. It seemed like seconds before a Salsa mechanic had me fitted for a super sweet 2014 Spearfish that begged me to ride it hard. I called out to my good friend, Ryan Horkey, an employee of Quality Bike Parts to turn a "hot lap" with me. Immediately, he suited up and grabbed an available Spearfish. Together, we headed out for my regular training lap. Salsa had routed a "mini lap" for media to test the rigs. I wanted Ryan to see and feel the lap that I've turned hundreds of times. Now, Ryan's a better mountain biker than I am so the only advantage I had was that I knew every rock, root, and turn. Also, I should mention that Ryan just ate lunch, so if I could keep him in the red zone for at least a little while I knew I'd be pushing him. Three quarters of the way through the lap, the bike feeling good under me, Ryan called for a short stop as his meal was finding it's way North out of his system. Our break had us speaking freely about the new Spearfish and it's special rear Split Pivot design. I admitted to him that I often don't notice the subtleties that are found in bikes from year to year, but this time I REALLY COULD feel it. The stability of the bike on fast descents, the stiff rear end during sustained climbs as well as hard acceleration was obvious. I was smitten and I really felt like I could go FAST on this bike.b2ap3_thumbnail_81D2HEXOdnDgzFvHrD6Jjxwb-UVBEB2T8xlRpbiqiEc.jpg

 

Cruising into the parking lot I was all smiles. I was greeted by Mike Reimer and I began to spew my ride report to him. He smiled as I behaved like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. Eventually, he got me to slow down enough to explain to me the mechanics of all that I felt while on the bike. My emotion represented the vibe that buzzed throughout the parking lot as bikes left for additional laps and others returned. I'd love to bottle that feeling and sell it!

Day 3 was about bikes and Duluth's trail systems. This day would allow the media to test the rigs throughout the many facets of what the city has to offer mountain bikers. It was my hope to join this ride midway through the day. However, I arrived 10 minutes too late, the crew had departed. It was up to me to catch them. Previous trail route "recon" prepared me and I was confident I'd find them. Spinning out on the prescribed route with a couple corners being cut I was certain that I'd see the back end of the group rounding the next bend, but they never appeared. Threatening rain clouds loomed ominous to the west, I was glad I had doubled back earlier for my rain coat before getting too far from home.b2ap3_thumbnail_PcL9qAVZG0ZsAzVv_oNEjOSDkkrOzSOVoWsbzNqYUj0.jpg

I continued through the route, becoming increasingly perplexed as to why I wasn't seeing bike tracks in the wet dirt. "You must be out ahead of them", I thought. It wasn't long before I was convinced I was in front of the group, so I figured I'd double back and catch them as they dropped down toward Lake Superior. Just then, I bumped into Katie, who informed me that the group was indeed behind me and offered a time estimate as to how far behind. "Sweet I found them!", I thought. I jumped on a paved road in order to cut some time, but this decision caused me to miss them once more. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

The skies had let loose with a fury that reminded me of the rains of one year ago, the rains that caused the flood! Determined to find the group I pushed on. The trail went from tacky to greasy, make that icy. The super hard pack of the Lester trail system was not allowing me to sink into the mud, but rather skate around on top of it. Things were approaching miserable. At times I'd stop and listen, thinking maybe I'd hear voices and be able to cut through on a different trail in order to hook up, but it was not to be.

Eventually, I was literally sb2ap3_thumbnail_wCOcpxo8RLe9zazcY5ihetxd8wQTKR4eaZIHw0sK5jA.jpgpit out the bottom of the trail system near the big Lake when I spotted the big white vans and moving truck that hauled the bikes. "Well, there they are, all finished up", I thought. Pulling in I spotted my buddies, Sean Mailen and Ryan Horkey. They were all smiles as I joked about how I finally found them. It wasn't long before we were joined by Pete Koski, (the guy responsible for the desing of these rigs) who promptly handed me a cold one. Graciously, I accept the beverage as it was exactly what a guy like me needed at that time. I was soaked to the bone, filthy, slightly chilled and looking at an hour road ride home in a torrential down pour, why not have a beer first.b2ap3_thumbnail_QCXNyWDkqetOaVFzfZKU6wM-9xi7zwLXzU41neqeplU.jpg

We said our good byes as the boys headed off to their hotel and I clipped in, riding off into the rain, but not without a short stop under a pavilion to enjoy that beer.

Thanks guys for the rides. See you next time...

Ekib2ap3_thumbnail_4RyoYk10p7MvsNuKr62nEJ2cUj1wmE5DmJZHmSBjD1g.jpg

 

 

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Posted by on in Racing

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_DK-open-range.jpgThe grass seemed to shine as it moved in waves across the wind swept prairie. Squinting through the brightness of the day I dared myself to spot a man made object, there were none. My bike and I were passing through the vastness of the Flint Hills, racing another Dirty Kanza 200. I was riding through God's front lawn and I knew it. 

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Posted by on in Training

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a1sx2_Thumbnail2_P5290401.JPGMy 4th Dirty Kanza 200 will occur this Saturday. I have a lot on my mind, like will my tires hold up, will my knee hold up? I could really do without the 5 flats I experienced last year and I could do without the excruciating pain I went through a month ago in the Trans Iowa.

Whatever happens I know I'll be doing what I love to do and I'll be around others doing what they love, it's a good combination. 200 hundred miles is a long way to ride a bike to be sure, but if a guy (or girl) keeps his (her) head up the Flint Hills can be a pretty amazing place. I'll be waiting to accept whatever those hills have to give me.

Oh, and hopefully a pint like the one pictured here will be waiting for me at the finish line.

See you on the other side.

Eki

 

 

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