2015 Lumberjack 100

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Photo By JH Kunnen Photo

This was it, the big day.  I started training in January on the trainer and rollers, riding my fatbike in snow, and my crossbike in the cold.  The Lumberjack 100 is a 100 mile mountain bike race in Michigan.  It consists of many things but is known for having over 9,000 feet of climbing and being largely single track.

I trained working up to seven hours of pedaling time before the race in hopes that would get me close enough to the finish that I’d be good on race day.  Thankfully it was.  I ended the race tired, but far from drained.  I wouldn’t describe the race as hard.  I’ve had shorter races that were harder, but I would describe it as long.  For me, nine hours is a long time on a bike pedaling.  Lots of time to get into deep into your own head.

I didn’t bring my camera although I meant to take it on the last of the three 33.3 mile laps to take some pictures, I forgot to snag it.  Oh well.  These pictures are from Rob Meendering Photography and JH Kunnen Photo.  Only the first picture is of me, the rest are pictures I found that show the trails I rode.

The course was great, providing flowy single track with good variation.  There was about three or so miles per loop of gravel or dirt double track, but it was largely all single track.  The climbs were spread out, the downs were great treats.  The support tent at the lap’s half-complete point was great.  The crew that I went up to the race with were great.  We had a pit tent filled with people who could make a bike adjustment if needed, fill your water, get you food, or offer words of encouragement.  These folks made the day a lot better.  My wife was a huge help to me in preparation and during the race.

I crossed the finish line at 9 hours 13 minutes.  I’m happy with that.  It felt like an accomplishment.  A check box was checked.  What’s next for me?  Chequamegon 40 is later this year.  I’ll be checking off my top bucket list trail later this year in Moab, Utah.  Smiles ahead.

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Photo By Rob Meendering Photography
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Photo By Rob Meendering Photography
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Photo By Rob Meendering Photography
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Photo By Rob Meendering Photography
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Photo By Rob Meendering Photography

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Today On A Bike

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I’ve been riding with intention of preparing for the Lumberjack 100 mile mountain bike race this year.  The rainfall during the late spring has often times made a road bike ride the only option because of wet trails.  I was happy to get in 27 mile mountain bike ride yesterday with some friends.  I love this time of year.

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New Bike Day! Ibis HD3

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The older I get the more I enjoy trips with friends.  Riding mountain bikes in amazing places like Colorado with great friends are some of my favorite times looking back on recent years cycling.  With that in mind, I was fortunate enough to purchase a new trail bike this year.  I choose an Ibis HD3 based on a demo a few years ago at our local trails, friends recommendations, and the geometry coupled with the pedaling efficiency of the DW Link suspension.

I ordered the frame set in December and waited patiently for the in demand bike to show up in Illinois at my local bike shop.  With great things comes great demand I hear.  I moved a handful of parts from my previous trail bike to the frame, mainly the Shimano XTR bits.  What I didn’t have to move over I purchased the remaining Shimano XTR parts to round out the bike.

Shimano XTR trail brakes, XTR 2 by 10 shifters, Thomson Downhill aluminum handlebar for durability, and a Thomson 50mm stem make up the cockpit.
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The wheel build consists of Derby 41mm wide carbon rims, DT Swiss 240s hubs, Shimano XTR rotors, Specialized Butcher front tire and Specialized Purgatory rear tire both of which set up tubeless.
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The dropper post I had on my last trail bike made a huge difference on my last trip to Colorado, it was a no brainer on this build.
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I can’t thank my amazing local bike shop enough for helping me through the build process or talking parts, ordering the correct pieces, and building up the bike.  Bloomington Cycle & Fitness is great.
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2015 Gravel Metric

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Sunday I rode in The Gravel Metric, a wonderful event put on by the special folks at Axletree.  Last year I had a lot of fun at the ride and was looking forward to riding again this year.  The weather was in the lower 60º’s F with some sprinkles to keep the dust at bay.  The gravel seemed quick, but I’m no gravel expert.  Bloomington Normal, the area I live in doesn’t have any extended gravel.  I rode the course in four hours and eleven minutes last year.  That was too close to breaking four hours to not make a goal of it for 2015, so I did just that going into the ride.

Fast forward, I hit my goal, and rode the course in three hours and fifty-three minutes.  One of the side effects of that was pain, another was no time to take out my phone and capture any photos during the ride.  It’s a hard choice for me to not take any pictures at an event like this, but I had my head down pedaling this day.

I rode with the first chase group of about fifteen people behind the leaders for the first twenty or so miles.  The group I was in became pretty organized for a five or ten-mile stretch and we bridged up to the lead group.  Matches were burned, but now rolling with the lead group we were about thirty or forty riders.  There were a handful of miles of recovery in drafts.  I had worked hard, but felt good.  It felt like an accomplishment to be riding with the leaders.  About a mile before the grassy double track of pain the leaders started to ramp up the speed into a stiff headwind.  I was a causality of the increased pace, and had to ratchet it back a notch.  Watching my heart rate sit a few percent below max for miles on end half way through a four-hour ride was a bit scary.

After the grassy double track I jumped around between groups for the remainder of the day.  There was some serious head wind of at least ninety-four miles per hour or so it felt from about mile about fifty-five until a few miles before the sixty-eight mile finish line.  Those miles ticked by slowly and painfully.  I was in my head and matches were being burned.  I rode back into North Central Cyclery tired, but not quite cooked.  I was happy I cracked the four-hour mark.

I can’t say enough good things about the event and the great people who make it possible.  The course is challenging.  I think it was harder than the sixty-two mile Barry Roubaix Killer Gravel Race I rode earlier this year.  It’s hard to write that because there was about five thousand feet of climbing at the Barry Roubaix but the combination of more gravel, more exposed wind, and challenging terrain make the Gravel Metric feel like a harder ride to me.  The course is filled with mostly gravel and a mixture of grass double track, farm dirt roads, a creek crossing, and a railroad you have to climb up and over.  I love it.  Axletree puts on great events.  The registration before hand and the day of were top-notch, the merch was of good quality (Purist bottles, American Apparel shirts), great designs all around, and super cool things like the bandanas with course info printed on them.  Axletree practice what they preach.  Events. Advocacy. Awesome.  They excel at all.  The events they put on are items on my calendar that I look forward to, the advocacy is inspiring.  Check out a recent contribution of helping get helmets on heads that can use them.  They are awesome!

Before the ride started.
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Ride data, ouch…  Full ride data.
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I look forward to next time I get to ride this great course!
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They’re Just Roads

For the past four or so years I’ve ridden road bikes around the town I live in.  A town in central Illinois filled with corporate companies, universities, some great local businesses, a uptown full of life, and every chain restaurant known to man (dreadful).  It is surrounded largely by farm land, tar and chip roads, livestock fences, barns, and fields.

These country roads that lie outside of town have grown on me over the past few years.  It feels silly.  I think it comes from the memories of spending time on these roads with good people enjoying a common interest.

They’re just roads, but they have grown on me.

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