• 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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Tim

Tim

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

Posted by on in Training

b2ap3_thumbnail_PC160614.JPGMinnesota is currently trapped between seasons. I long for either Fall or full blown Winter and it seems neither are willing to commit. With the Arrowhead 135 looming in the not too distant future I spend my weekends on the Fat Bike and my weekday evenings on the cross bike, battling the cold that inevitably comes with riding road in the month of December.

This stage of my training requires big hours on snowmobile trails and becoming one with the Mukluk. However, being caught between seasons make this proposition more difficult than one might think. Yesterday found my training partner (Farrow) and I questioning our existence on this planet while we battled down pour rains combined with 33 degree temps. Our fat tires simply crushed through the mushy snow causing front wheel wash outs over and over again. Frustration built resulting in adult style tantrums in the middle of nowhere.

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Posted by on in General

A great video from a friend of mine fat biking in Northern Wisconsin, just outside of Duluth, Mn.

This video shot by Quinn, the designer of this website, on board his brand new Mukluk.

 Fat biking in a winter wonderland, Wisconsin style!

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Posted by on in General

b2ap3_thumbnail_PC080590.JPGThis morning I suited up for a ride and jumped on my single speed commuter. I reviewed my training plans in my mind, but I knew there'd be more going on for me than another training ride. 

I thought hard about whether to tell this story, but it speaks directly to the fact that 'real life' trumps any 'game' we play. And, truth be told, in the grand scope of things, cycling is just a game. When 'real life' shows up to remind you that you are just as vulnerable to sadness as you are to all the joys that your passions can bring. 

Recently, my wife Amy and I were delivered a piece of news that hit us both so hard we were rendered speechless. As many of you may know our family is comprised of the two of us and our two beautiful cats, or as our neighbors used to call them, our "fur kids". Some wonder how one can become so attached to an animal, but those who are lucky enough to share their lives with them know that the relationship becomes so much more than a human owning a pet. In our home our kitties, Betsy and Gray share their lives with us and we are better for it. A while back a casual visit to our vet for what we were sure would require a slight adjustment to our management of Gray's diabetes turned out to be much more. We were told that Gray has mouth cancer. It was as if we were kicked in the stomach. 

Lab reports have come back and our worst fears were true. He is plagued with an aggressive from of cancer that leaves us with very little time left with him. Many tears have been shed, but we owe it to him to make his final days the best he's ever had. Amy makes him Salmon every night and he gets to eat whenever he wants. Sometimes that means we have to sit with him while he eats, coaxing him to try a little more. We've had some good talks with him, thanking him for our time together and he looks back at us as if he knows what we're saying and it's as if he says it back to us with his eyes. 

My ride today was about more than hitting my heart rate zones and covering my loop in the time I had hoped. Today I did a lot of thinking, a lot of remembering, some smiling, and some crying. 

Thank you Gray for being the coolest cat I've ever known. I'm so glad I got to spend 10 years with you. It wasn't nearly enough, but it was so much more than I could have ever asked for.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_PC080592.JPG

I love ya buddy.

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Posted by on in General

Miker films 

site de rencontre entiГЁrement gratuit pour les femmes association rencontres francophones lille site rencontres amicales entre femmes halle saale sie sucht ihn find more http://www.pavegreen.org/vioper/5667 http://www.15m-acoruna.com/?privetys=hay-un-hombre-que-esta-solo-acordes&ab8=ab explanation exemple annonce site de rencontre http://faithsmedicalservices.com/maljavkos/888 I’ll admit it, when I get a cycling magazine the first thing I do is look at the pictures. I’ve always assumed that the photographer really got a “lucky shot” when I see the dirt flying and the perfect look on the rider’s face. Thing is, that’s not the way it really goes. Turns out those shots aren’t “lucky” after all.
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Posted by on in General

Welcome to the new and improved Eki Chronicles. I promise that it will be the same stories of triumph, defeat, and adventure all from the back of my Salsa. 

If you have me "linked" on your blog I would greatly appreciate you taking a minute to adust your link to reflect my new address, www.ekichronicles.com Also, please spread the word as I'd like to involve as many as I can into my world on two wheels (as well as off the bike). 

Finally, please use the "contact" button if you want to get in touch to talk bikes, races, or what it exactly was that I was thinking when I ... 

I'll be adding photos and stories (old and new) as often as I can in order to breathe some life into this little guy. I hope you enjoy the new look and the new site!

Hope to see you on the trail soon,

Eki

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

a1sx2_Thumbnail3_Great-Hawk-Chase-2011.jpgAs I once again commence with training in the dark I can't help but get lost in memories of racing on hot summer days. The heat that seemed to settle on your back like an electric blanket on already sweltering body. I think back to cursing the sun for a brief time before remember what real cold feels like. I'll take the heat any day! 

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_PC240169.jpgTraining season in northern Minnesota means gettin' tough. It's about training the mind just as much as it is about training the body. You tell yourself time and time again, "I can take it, I can take it", while the feeling slips from your feet and hands. "It'll all be worth it in the end ... I hope", I'd think while I performed the cost/benefit analysis in my mind.  

So, as you head out the door with your last act being a glance at the temperature, think about those warm summer race days. Oh, and don't forget to grab a little nip of the "warm stuff" to share with your training buddies when you take that first break 4 hours later.

 Hopefully I'll see you on the trail... Eki

 

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Posted by on in Racing

It's that time of year when things settle down, the traveling subsides, the racing goes on hold, and the real training begins. It's also that time of year when I spend a lot of time thinking about all that I've experienced. There were definitely moments on the bike when I felt untouchable and times when I felt I was doomed. Here's a quick look at my year, from my backyard, to Kansas, to Colorado, and everywhere in between.

Pumped about an 8th place finish at the gravel classic,
Ragnarok 105.
Shelled, but happy with a 3rd place at the Northern
Kettles 100 miler.

The Chequamegon 100 didn't end well for me. I got LOST,
but I still had a great time. I'll be back to redeem myself.

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Posted by on in Training

 

 

 

3 of Duluth's 4 DBD'ers fatbike down Minnesota's North Shore
Trail. (Eki, Buff (left), and Farrow)

 
5:50 a.m. I jolted awake to the sound of my watch alarm telling me it was time to go. Finally, I'd be out of the house and back on my bike, but this time I'd be on my Mukluk and back into the arms of the DBD. It's funny, cause it seems the more the DBD'ers go off in search of adventure, the less time they spend together.

"I was told there'd be coffee", were the first words I said to Farrow after months of not seeing him. You see some early week planning for this ride involved me riding across town on a cold, dark, morning for a nice cup of coffee at Charlie's house before we would embark on the ride itself. Well, ride across town I did and my hands froze, which was an amature move on my part, as I wore some seriously light weight gloves. Anxious for that "cup of coffee" I scampered up the steps of the Farrow estate, my cycling shoes skating around the frosty surface of his deck, when I heard his greeting, "Eki, I've got bad news...No Coffee". The plan was already falling apart. No worries, it could have been worse I figured. Suddenly, Charlie determined to not be beaten by the lack of coffee, made another announcement, "I do have this!" He produced a small tea bag looking thing (it was a small bag of coffee), swinging it in front of my face with a devilish grin on his face, "It's coffee!". I agreed to drink the substance after an addition of some almond milk, which came after some hesitation from me. Turns out the coffee was outstanding and jump started my frozen being. Soon, we were ready to ride.

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Posted by on in Racing

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Vapor-Granite-Peak-Self-Portrait.jpg

 

Where Eagles Fly:  The Vapor Trail 125

"From such places you do not return unchanged." -Reinhold Messner

My light swept back and forth across the night sky like a searchlight hunting for enemy planes. But it wasn't planes I was searching for. I sought some understanding of what I was witnessing, or better yet, what I was a part of. I stood alone atop the Great Divide; my only companions the crescent moon and a billion stars so close that I wanted to reach up to them, just to see how they felt. Five hours into the 2012 Vapor Trail is when I stopped riding and realized that I was not in control and that I really never would be for the remainder of the adventure. The sky, the mountains, and the terrain would be calling the shots, not me. It came clear to me that throughout the coming hours my surroundings would grant me triumph as well as defeat, over and over again.

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Posted by on in Training


In order to maintain optimal fitness one must often "keep the body guessing" by switching up exercise routines. Well, as the dog days of summer come the mind begins to yearn for something more than endless gravel and twisty single track. Enter the Salsa Beargrease.

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The Wausau 24 is kind of a big deal in the Midwest. Let's just put it this way, there were nearly 500 people participating in this event in one racing category or another. I would be racing the 12 Hour Solo category, while fellow DBD member Jason "Big Buff" Buffington would pound through 24 hours on a single speed. I would live in his shadow through this event. I've raced a bike for 30 hours before, but it wasn't a mountain bike and I wasn't on trails. I gave up trying to figure out how he or anyone else could do it. I'd stick to worrying about my 12 hours on the bike, it was all I needed to worry about.

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Posted by on in Racing

Racing the Kansas Sun

 

 
The open range of Kansas

 
As I slid my index finger between the rim and the bead of the tire pain coursed through my whole body. The sharp edge of the bead opened the wet, dirty skin of my finger like a hot knife going through butter. A deep breath was all I had to ward off the feeling. I had to keep working the problem, I had to solve the problem. The sun baked my back as I contemplated the state I was in. My world was reduced to a completely destroyed rear tire and the Kansas flint rock strewn about me. I was 80 miles into possibly the most rugged and challenging gravel road race the country has to offer. I was deep into the Dirty Kanza 200 and I was in trouble.

 

 
 

 
 
This would be my 3rd "go round" with the Flint Hills of Kansas. The first two efforts saw me finish the event, but barely. The unbearable heat brought me closer to physical destruction than I had ever been. Yet, for some reason I was going back. I'm not really sure even now why I wanted to go back. I guess I felt I had something to settle in Kansas. I couldn't leave it the way it stood, with me against the ropes taking punches. I needed to work out of the corner and back into the middle of the ring. This 3rd attempt would leave me satisfied, I hoped.

 

 
Early morning sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I came to Kansas rested, but was somewhat unsettled in my head. I was nervous. The DK is scary to me and with good reason. It has a rough personality and isn't very friendly. Easing into the race as quietly as possible was my plan. Keeping my goals for the day to myself was my way of hopefully not upsetting this unpredictable "personality". Almost as if talking out loud about my hopes would result in the DK saying, "Oh yeah, we'll see about that." So, while the rest of the boys discussed their strategies I kept to myself for the most part. I'd keep my secret buried down deep. I wanted to knock this thing out in under 14 hours. I knew I had the legs to do it, but I wasn't sure which way the tables would turn. So, I taped the times I needed to hit the check points to my top tube. If I could get in front of those times I'd be ensured a sub 13:40 finish and that might allow me to let the final bell ring on my fight with DK.

 

 
My game plan

 
The start always seems to go off like a rocket with guys flushing their systems of nervous energy. This year I'd let that all play out in front of me as I knew burning unnecessary matches early never turns out well. However, I was quickly falling more and more behind the leaders. I decided it was too much, so I pushed up closer to the "red zone" for just a bit. The "red zone" never seemed to come, I was feeling strong. One of the most elemental rules in racing is, "when you're feelin' it, go with it". I went with it, jumping into a fast moving group I found that I fit in just fine. I was even earning my keep with some long pulls on the front. At one point I even wondered why one of the riders had the number 1 on his plate. Was I actually sharing pulls with a two time champ of the Dirty Kanza? I was and it didn't even hurt. We seemed to move through other small groups until there didn't seem to be anyone in front of us any more. I assumed the lead group was really putting the hurt on us and they were off the front. This was not the case, the early leaders had missed a turn and were now fighting to get to us! However, the confusion of early attacks and the chaos of the race had me thinking I was in about 20th position. I was wrong.

 

 
Paul from the U.K. (with Camel Back) and Joe Meiser

 
My friend Ryan Horkey who had raced the DK with me in my two previous years was attending, but this year he would serve as support to all in Salsa kits along with Lelan Dains. Lelan was instrumental in my survival last year. As I pulled into check point 1 I instantly heard Ryan's voice calling out with a sense of urgency and possibly surprise..."Eki, over here!". I located Ryan and rode to the pit area he had established. As he worked to replenish my supplies I removed a base layer as the temperatures were rising. Ryan moved with a deliberate style that gave me confidence that I was in good hands. It was getting to be time to leave the C.P. when he told me, "You're the first Salsa rider to get here." (7th overall) I was surprised to say the least.

 
Heading out of the check point another rider asked, "Are you Eki?" "Yep", was my reply and apparently that was enough for us to hook up and begin riding together. It wasn't long before we were joined by the guy with the number 1 on his bike. The three of us began to work together, but the reigning champ's pulls were beginning to hurt. Soon my new friend was coming off the pace while I tried to hold the wheel of the fast moving rider who was clearly heading toward his own goals, winning! I sat up, wishing him luck in my mind, now I'd ride my race.

 
Shortly after the first check point I began to absorb my surroundings. I set the race aside and marveled at the vast expanses laid out before me. Reaching back for my camera was when I heard the unsettling sound of air leaving my rear tire. I guess the pictures will wait, I thought. Now, to my thinking one flat in this race is a given. I happily changed out the tube, but took notice of a cut in the side wall, this tire needed a boot. I had what I needed and repaired the maimed tire and I was on my way in 10 short minutes. But, Battle Creek Road was ahead and I had no idea what this section had in store for me.

 

 
Gettin' it done

 
Calling Battle Creek Road a road is quite a stretch. This is more of a jeep trail than a road. Picture a creek bed with flint rock scattered about in a scree like fashion and you have Battle Creek Rd. One must choose their lines carefully here as this section is just dying to take a bite out of some DK riders. It turned out I was the rider it wanted most. Not two blocks into the section and my rear tire let go again. Another tear in the side wall. No worries, I would boot this one too. It wasn't until I was completely inflated and ready to go that I noticed a disturbing bulge, the tube forcing it's way out of a separate cut that I hadn't seen. "Oh No!", I thought as I let the air out and began the repair process again. Finally, ready to go. I hopped on and gingerly rode down the trail for not even one minute, until the deafening sound of air releasing from the tire happened again. Another flat! I was in trouble. Running low on supplies, getting very hot, and very frustrated, I yelled out "WHY?!!". My DK was and had slipped away from me. I no longer would meet my secret goals. My thoughts began the cascading process of negativity. I deeply considered quitting. I had the phone in my pocket, but I probably wouldn't get cell service. Well, I could fix the tire the best that I could and ride easy or walk into cell coverage, then Ryan could come to get me. My 3rd Dirty Kanza was over.

 
I worked on the tire, inflating and deflating as I discovered more problems over and over. An hour had passed without me moving forward. My mental status was in a very bad place. Then it came to me. I flashed back to my early days of endurance racing when all I ever wanted to do was finish. I never had aspirations to be near the front of the race, those things have just come to me over time. I thought about why I do these things and the answer was and has always been, "to see what you're made of". Just then everything turned and I was determined to see exactly what I was made of. In this moment is when a savior of sorts came upon me, Bobby "All Day" Wintle.

 

 
My savior, Bobby Wintle

 
Bobby has been a part of my Dirty Kanza experience every year. He is one of the most positive people I have ever met and one of Kansas' best. His arrival turned the entire event around for me. We began to ride together and told him of my plight. Without hesitation he excitedly told me, "I have a brand new set of tires at the next check point and they're yours!". My spirits went straight to the sky. Not only would I finish, I was back in the fight, working my way off the ropes. Bobby and I would ride together for the next 16 miles. He was there to assist me when my front tire blew a short time later marking my 4th flat of the day. He kept me smiling as he called out "ALL DAY" whenever he heard something he liked or agreed with. When I think of Bobby, I say "All Day!"

 
Finally, I limped into the C.P. and heard Ryan calling to me. I responded that I needed mechanical help, I needed a complete tire swap. Now, as luck would have it there was a brand new set of tires in Lelan's truck and Bobby's offer was not needed. I actually had a choice as to which tires I wanted to run. With Ryan and Lelan's help we decided to go with the set Lelan had. I began the next leg and longest leg of the race with a brand new set of tires, a brand new goal, and a brand new attitude. I would race the sun...

 

 
Ryan (back ground) and Lelan swapping my tires.

 
My first two attempts at this race had me finishing in the dark. I wondered what it would be like to finish without using the lights, would the finish somehow look different? I was determine to find out.

 
I pulled away from the 2nd C.P. after Ryan convinced me to take a 4th water bottle. He pushed me up to speed and I called to him, "I'll see you at C.P. 3". My solo effort began. I had lost so much time to mechanicals that I was no longer riding among riders of a similar pace. Therefore, I would catch and move past racers for the next 6 hours, never latching onto a group. I accepted it as a test. Could I time trial the remainder of the race? I switched my gps to map mode so that I could confirm upcoming roads and be assured that I was on course compared to the map of the race mounted to my bars. I paid no attention to the myriad of information the gps held for me, I simply looked to the sky, noting the arc of the sun as it was now my only competitor. My legs felt good, my head felt right and I was doing well, but the race against the sun was going to be close.

 

 
Kansas 'B' Road

 
The heat of the afternoon began to wear on me as the temperatures were settled in the mid 90's. I unzipped my jersey only to allow a bee inside. Suddenly, I felt the bite of what can only be compared to someone grabbing a bit of skin with a needle nose pliers and twisting. I yelled out, "AHHHH". I looked inside to see a fuzzy bee walking around on my left side. Quickly I opened the bottom of my jersey giving him an exit point. The pain was insane, so much that I pulled over to see if his stinger was in my skin, it wasn't, so I pushed on.

 
Ryan told me at check point 2 that I had a 4 hour leg in front of me, but I completed it in about 3:40 or so. I was happy with the effort and I tried to eek some compliments out of Ryan at C.P. 3 as I boasted about my fast leg. In an effort to balance my comments about the last section I mentioned being a bit tired. Ryan questioned my fatigue as if I was getting soft on him. It was a light hearted moment, but he made sure that I didn't linger too long, as he politely told me that most people weren't really sticking around the C.P. and that "time was of the essence". He was right, I needed to move. Appreciating his candor I mounted up while Ryan placed his hands on the small of my back and got me up to speed one more time. "See you at the finish buddy", I yelled. As I rolled out of town I thought about his comments about how long it would take to complete the final leg. I told myself I needed to be above 15 at all times. The sun was beginning to drop fast.

 
I knew sunset would be around 8:40 p.m., I decided to take a peek at the time. Changing screens on my gps told me it was 7:30 p.m. I had been on the bike or at least out there doin' it for 12 and a half hours. My thinking was becoming more confused and I was having a lot of trouble reading the road signs. I questioned my vision as I was really having difficulty seeing or more accurately reading. I committed to being diligent with my navigation. A wrong turn now would destroy my chances of beating the big bright ball in the sky.

 

 
The setting sun. Not much time left.

 
I stayed in the drops for the next hour and I no longer seemed to be passing riders. Perhaps I had reached the point where the competitors in front of me were going my pace or faster, it didn't matter, I was alone and it was o.k. Experience with the course told me I was getting close. One more turn and the gravel would be ending. I would enter Emporia on tar roads. The sun was touching the tree tops in the distance, I still had a few minutes! The feeling of smooth tar was foreign to me, but nice. I stayed on top of my pedal strokes as the excitement of the finish built inside. I exited the college campus which told me Commercial St. was just ahead. Commercial would be my last road of the Dirty Kanza. A police man waved to me from his patrol car as I made the final turn. Cars began to honk and drivers yelled from their windows as they watched a filthy, battered rider enter their town. I heard their cheers and I felt their welcome as I came into downtown Emporia. My lights stayed off and I took one more glance over my shoulder to the setting sun and said, "gotchya". Into the finish and into Emporia's open arms I rode.

 

 
  • Jim Cummins, race director and me at the finish.

 

 


 
Thank you Jim Cummins for this incredible experience. I know you see the joy you've given people and I hope you see mine. Thank you Ryan Horkey and all the Salsa crew. I hope you appreciated my stories after the race. Thank you Bobby Wintle, I know the cycling Gods sent you to look after me. Lelan, you know...Thanks buddy. Randy Smith, your generosity is unmatched. Thank you for giving a bunch of dirty bike riders your home for three days and for giving me your tube out there on Battle Creek Rd. Finally, thank you Emporia Kansas, you set an example of embracing cycling that the whole country can follow.

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
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