2015 Giant City Trip

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Spring brings a lot great things. Warm weather, color to a bland pallet of nature, group rides grow in size, and for some good friends and I, our spring trip to Shawnee National Forest area of Illinois to enjoy four days on road bikes. This is my third year joining the trip and I seem to enjoy every year more-so than the previous.

I enjoy the scenery and the memorable times with friends and teammates more than ever. Either one would be worth the trip alone. The riding is good, the people are good, the smiles are real. The relaxing among common minded folk is great. This trip perfectly encapsulates what I love about cycling.

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The colors of spring are great…

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The lodging at Giant City Lodge are great. It makes the team building and social aspects of the weekend better. I’ve stayed in the smaller two bed cabins every year. I smile when I walk into that little yellow tinted slice of a time before, antenna television set included.

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The riding was good this year. The weather was in the 50º’s and 60ºs F. The sun shined some days, the raindrops were few and far between. I ended the four-day trip with 202.3 miles ridden and 14,239 feet climbed according to the little black Garmin box…

The weekend’s non riding was on par with the great rides. Wine tasting party, Sculpin Grapefruit IPA’s discovered, a breathalyzer provided more than a few smiles, and a number of amazing quotes and memories.

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2016’s return trip is already a thing to look forward to. Until then, time to enjoy some sunshine and rides with good friends.

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Day 1 Ride Data
Day 2 Ride Data
Day 3 Ride Data
Day 4 Ride Data

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Today On A Bike

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Training days… I spent four hours in the saddle on my cross bike Yesterday. That time was spent on a mixture of tarmac, dirt, grass, and a touch of gravel. I’m half way or so to my intended seven or eight-hour day of pedaling in preparation for The Lumberjack. I’m looking forward to more time riding mountain bike trails now that the trail systems are all drying up.

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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.

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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

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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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2014 Giant City Trip

2014-04-27 11.31.34This weekend I joined some teammates and friends at the Giant City Lodge in southern Illinois for four days of riding, smiling, and making memories. The weather, roads, and company were great. We set out Thursday on the first ride of the trip with 13 riders.
2014-04-24 14.11.31The weekend was filled with climbing hills and being treated to great views for Illinois.
2014-04-24 15.37.40 2014-04-24 15.40.32 2014-04-24 15.58.32The lodging was great and the breakfasts were as good as I remembered from last year.
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Friday I wore the Illinois State Champ jersey and put in a hard ride with the group. I felt a bit guilty wearing it on the road as I earned it on a mountain bike, but I think I did it justice, although it drained me for the next days ride.
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Saturday I paid greatly for my efforts from the previous day’s ride. I didn’t make any long pulls and sat in the pack for most of the day.
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Sunday we set off for an easier recovery ride. There was an effort towards the end of the ride as we rolled back to the lodge.
2014-04-27 16.14.57Day 4’s Garmin Data

The roads were great and a key ingredient to the weekends enjoyment. There is a short but painfully steep hill near the cabin that is a staple for the ride named Baptist Hill. I believe the incline percent tops out around 20%. Pictures don’t do the snail crawling leg burning it induces justice.
2014-04-27 11.24.28The roads in general are filled with curves, rock formations, and hills.
2014-04-27 11.32.472014-04-27 11.18.05 2014-04-27 11.38.27I ended the weekend with 187.18 miles ridden, 10,632 feet climbed, 5,862 calories burned, and set a new personal record for fastest speed down one of the hills hitting 47.5 miles per hour. I can’t wait for next year!

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