2015 Barry Roubaix

5654256837 Photo by: Julie McGraw Photography

This weekend I raced in the Founders Brewing Barry Roubaix 62 mile gravel road race with some teammates and friends. The race takes place near Hastings, MI on gravel, tarmac, and dirt roads and has near 5,000 feet of elevation to climb, or so my Garmin says. It’s the largest gravel race I’ve ever taken part of with something like 3,500 participants. One side note, I didn’t take any pictures during the race so I looked for photos that showed the terrain, and as such I’m only in the last photo.

My family drove up on Friday, and for a few miles of the drive it looked like time was spinning backwards and winter made a reappearance.

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On race day, the weather was nice in that it was dry and the wind was low, but it was cold at around 18ºF when the first wave went off. With one minute before the whistle blew, I had no nerves which was nice. I had a plan to start at a quick but endurance pace and as the race progressed, I would start to ramp up the push. I wanted to end the race pushing hard. In the end, I think I accomplished exactly that.

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We pedaled through farm roads, country tarmac, and dirt roads. There were some nice views to take in while racing.

8716722973Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

2322144515Photo by: Julie McGraw Photography2649338770Photo by: Julie McGraw Photography

I finished the race in 3 hours and 48 minutes. I was pretty happy. I felt good at the end. This was a silent test of fitness as I’ve got a big (for me) race planned for June of this year (Lumberjack 100 mile mountain bike race). Overall, I had a good time and the conditions were great. The cold temps were a slight worry before the race went off, but my Gore gear kept me comfortable and the roads stayed mud free largely. It probably won’t be the last time I race the Barry Roubaix.

barry roubaix heart rate data

Full Race Data

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Tour Of St. Louis Saturday Crit


Last weekend I raced in my first crit of 2015 at the Tour of St. Louis Omnium Saturday race. It was a beautiful spring day to race bikes. When the whistle blew I joined two teammates and about fifty others in the cat 4 race. I spent the race mixing it up with the different teams and people. It was a lot of fun. I went for a preme (lap prizes that happen mid race) and came up second, I tried to lead a teammate out for the finish but we came up short. Would I change anything, no. The excitement and intensity of the racing is enough for me, coupled with the team strategy it’s a lot of fun. Racing for the joy of racing, I don’t think it gets any better.

Crits are a weird thing for me personally, I came from a background of speed skating before I ever raced a bike and a criterium is the only form of cycling that draws out the same excitement as short track speed skating did. The downside is crashes are a part of the sport. In MTB racing every crash I’ve ever had is because of a mistake I made. In crits, that’s not the case. You can find yourself sliding on asphalt at 30 miles per hour without ever having made a mistake. Someone fifteen riders ahead of you makes a mistake and you can pay for it. Bodily injury is the real worry, but being out thousands in equipment isn’t fun either. That said I really enjoy crits for the positive aspects they provide. For me, I had to come to terms with the real possibility that I’m going to crash, and my bike is probably going to be damaged. Obviously that’s not fun, but it’s the price of admission if you’re honest. I gained a lot of peace of mind from coming to terms with that. That and good health and bicycle racing insurance :)IMG_2782

IMG_8969_matthew_2 Photo by: Dan Singer Photography/Design

tour of st louis crit heartrate Full Race Data

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Louisville Mega Cavern Bike Park


While in Kentucky this weekend for NAHBS, we made a stop by the Louisville Mega Cavern Bike Park. It’s a big underground cavern of attractions including zip lines, tours, and now a MTB/ dirt jump park. It was pretty interesting looking around while in there at the walls and ceiling. The cave stays 58º F on average year round or so I read on one of the fact sheets hanging up.

If you’re in search for a jump park to ride during the winter, this is a great option, or so it looked from a non jumper’s perspective. Beyond the jumps, there were smaller roughly tenth mile sections of MTB trail that you could link together to make big loops around the park, varying the lines and obstacles each lap. While I had a good time, I’m not sure there is enough to do to warrant a trip back for the non jumping crowd.

MJ5L3125 MJ5L3113 MJ5L3109 MJ5L3108 MJ5L3103 MJ5L3096

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2015 NAHBS



I’ve wanted attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) for a few years now. I’ve eagerly awaited the coverage every spring to see some of the finest craftsmanship in the bicycle industry. With the show taking place in Louisville Kentucky this year, we planned a long weekend to attend.

The experience was pretty neat. There were four rows of booths with eye candy in them. I spoke to some companies in person that I’ve wanted to about future projects and took some pictures. I was a little unsure of what I would be able to capture there. The bikes deserve better photos than what I was able to capture this year. To be honest, all of that falls on me. I didn’t bring any flash gear and I didn’t set up a great location. I also imagine it’s hard for big name brands to let me pull their bike out of their booth for ten minutes to shoot it knowing that my smaller blog’s reach is dwarfed by other sites/ and photographers in attendance. I get it.

For amazing coverage of the show, check out The Radavist. I met John from The Radavist on Saturday for a few moments. He was really nice and friendly. His photography and site are an inspiration.

Black Sheep Fat Bike
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Rohloff Hub Internals

I’ve seen a lot of frame bags, but this stood out.

KISH Fat Bike
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MOOTS Prototype Gravel Bike with unreleased ENVE fork with integrated fender and through axle Chris King R45 Hubs
MJ5L3080 MJ5L3085 MJ5L3083 MJ5L3084 MJ5L3081 MJ5L3082 MJ5L3088

Retrotec Cycles Fat Bike

Eriksen Cycles Fat Bike

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2015 Enchanted Fat Bike Stomp

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This past weekend I was able to participate in one of my favorite winter activities, riding the banks of the Mississippi river on fat bikes. Friends of Off Road Cycling do a great job of organizing fun events. Three years ago their first Enchanted Fat Bike Stomp opened my eyes to another great kind of cycling.

The river banks provide a lot for fat biking. When you get bigger groups of riders together, naturally some differences in skill levels and ride expectations emerge. The beauty of the river banks are that you can ride the smoother terrain or opt for more technical obstacles, and does the river ever provide the obstacles. Every year, when the river rises it brings with it a variety of transplanted objects from the current of the water. This makes each year I’ve ridden the banks unique and new.

I arrived a bit early and had a beer riverside at a brewery while people arrived. The amount of fat bikes that roll into these events still takes me by a bit of surprise. Even though this ride didn’t have the massive number of years past, it’s still more fat bikes than I ride with any other normal ride. Riding with thirty to one hundred fat bikes is pretty awesome. I’ll be back next year for more. Thanks again FORC for being another important and awesome piece of the puzzle that is the central Illinois cycling environment.

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