Monday, December 3, 2012

Driftless Delite

So as mentioned earlier, Agatha and I got out this weekend to do some riding around Sabula and Galena.  She is officially on the roster for Trans Iowa V9 (insane) so training has commenced.  Both her and my current roommate will be on the starting line in April, so while I am not participating, I feel like I'll be going on plenty of training rides considering they are probably the two people I ride with most.  I am stoked to feed off their drive to get ready as well as keep them motivated through the winter.  ANYWAY, Agatha has a secret base located in Jo Daviess county which makes weekend missions out to that area too easy to refuse, especially when temperatures are in the 50's and 60's in DECEMBER.  So we drove out to headquarters on Friday night and hit the sack.  Saturday we got up and made the 20 minute drive over the river to Sabula and did a nice 50 miler on the Iowa side.  Weather was humid and warmed throughout the day.  The sun never broke the clouds once and the gloom and mist made for a surrealistic ride.  B roads, C roads (Shhh don't tell anyone, no trespassing allowed), rollers and gravel defined the day.  Sunday we did 40 miles in Jo Daviess county hitting some massive gravel hills with 12%-13% grades.  The weather was unbelievable.  We were both sweating our asses off in short sleeves on the second day of December in Illinois.  Just nuts.  It was a phenomenal weekend of riding.  We both decided it felt good to do two slightly shorter rides instead of one punishing bonk ride.  Build up instead of tearing apart or something like that.  Not to say there isn't a place for that type of riding, especially for someone with ride like T.I. coming up in the near future.  Sometimes it's just nice to have fun though.

Overall, we did a little over 90 miles with ~7,000 feet of climbing for the weekend.  Today, I feel fucking great.  Nothing like a weekend of bikes, sunshine, and country roads to beat the winter/end of semester blues into submission.  

"Welcome to Iowa bitches", this hill seemed to say, looming in the distance.

This badass coonhound followed us around for at least 3 or 4 miles and at speeds up to 17 mph.  He would beat us up the hills and just wait for us to catch him.  He displayed no aggression towards us.  I think we were just his entertainment for the day.

Big river rock near Bellvue, IA.  Time, water, and wind can do amazing things.  They will erase all traces of our messes someday.

Lurking around on B Roads at night is a fun and healthy passtime.

View from Terrapin Ridge on Sunday.  Hell yes, this is the Illinois I love.

Secret location in Jo Daviess county where strange rituals are being performed.  The meaning of this structrue is yet unknown.

More evidence of strange activity discovered in the rural country side.  Something is happening out in NW IL.  Perhaps we will return here to pray for strength come April.

Agatha and I found a nice place for a romantic picnic.  Be sure to make reservations in advance.

Friday, November 30, 2012

You oughta be riding this weekend.

Yeah, that is the forecast for December 1st and 2nd.  Doesn't matter how you like to spend your time, you should get out and enjoy this weather.  As for me, I'll be heading out to my favorite locale for a couple of long rides with lots of big hills.  Probably Sabula on Saturday and then around Elizabeth and Galena on Sunday.  Basically, there is nothing else I'd rather do.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Century with Ross-August 23, 2012

Friday Ross and I did a century out to Oregon and back.  It was the first time Ross had ridden a century and we had a real good time together. I had been itching to do a big ride to Oregon for some time and while riding last Tuesday night, Ross and I decided we should get after it and do one before school got back in session. The route was good, with probably over half of it on gravel roads. It had some fun climbs too. The day itself was very hot with a high around 93ºF or 94ºF. We started early and the morning was nice with lots of clouds but the clouds and their shady respite disappeared quickly as the day progressed. We managed to stave off the bonk by drinking shit loads of water and eating a very salty meal in Oregon before heading back to DeKalb. Also, there comes a point on most long rides where I am helpless against the allure of Casey's pizza. So we had some of that too.  We were pretty fried by the time we made it back but that was kind of the point in the first place and we had fun doing it.  

Casseroll and Spacehorse make a good team.

I just can't help myself.

More treats.  Give me a break, it was hot.

I like this image.  The blazing white glare of the sun, Ross's head down...  Captures the mood at that moment in the ride pretty well.

Twombley all the way from Rochelle to DeKalb to finish things off.  Ugh.  That was not an exciting stretch.

Ross at the Magical One Hundredth Mile.  Salty!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elizabeth to Galena-August 12th, 2012

A few weekends ago, Agatha and I took a trip out to her family home in Jo Daviess County for another ride in my favorite place. We had great ambition going into this trip, with the aim to ride a 100+ mi/10,000 ft of climbing route. We did NOT do that.  Uh.. Let's blame it on the weather? It was a bit overcast and the clouds spat rain throughout the day, but we made the most of it and did a 50 some odd mile loop to Galena and back. I will not bother you with too many words about the trip. The roads are empty, the hills and grueling, the gravel is loose, and it is the perfect place to ride bikes. I love it so much. We are probably going back again this weekend. Why not?

Crumbling limestone towers at the Mississippi Palisades.  Don't try to climb it without a rope as there are wasps nests in the pockets.  Don't ask how I know that. 

Beautiful winding gravel hills.

This hill was so steep and loose my back tire spun out and I had to walk it.  700x35 does not cut it out there in some spots.

I am cool and good looking.

So awesome...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Parquet Courts-Light Up Gold

New album from Parquet Courts.  This is probably the coolest thing I've heard all year (excluding anything MILK MUSIC has done).  Great post-punk songs with intriguing lyrics that require a few listens to soak in.  I get a really strong Velvet Underground vibe from it, and that's a pretty damn high compliment.  CHECK IT OUT.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tour of Lake Michigan - May 20 to June 7, 2012 - Part 1

     This experience is still sinking in. 19 days of riding, 1,723 miles total.  Somehow over all those miles and days, our bodies and bikes barely faltered.  Our spirits were rarely low, and we only ran in to one mechanical problem on the second to last day that was easily managed (with a quick phone call to Eric--thanks again!!)  For now, all I can say is it was exhilarating, peaceful, reflective, revealing, refreshing, and inspiring.  There is no better way to travel than by bicycle.  On this journey Agatha and I maintained a journal and log, but only took pictures documenting the last week or so.  In this post, I'm going to upload some of the photos we took, and in coming posts talk a little about the trip itself, and the impact it had on me.
Breakfast on our final day: we split a half gallon of milk, a box of frosted mini wheats. Salem, WI.
The most unusual road name I've ever heard of.  Milwaukee-ish, WI.

Loaded down Casseroll at Whitefish Dunes State Park, WI.

Typical scene: Agatha getting dinner together after a long day.  Point Beach State Park, WI.
Just before sunrise, about 4:30 AM.  Whitefish Dunes State Park, WI.

Sun coming up over the lake, same location as previous shot.

Nice stretch of road--farmland to the west, lake and bluffs to the east.  Somewhere along the central lakeshore, WI.

A bench along the Anahpee Trail between Algoma and Casco, WI.  "There can be no doubt that a society rooted in the soil is more stable than one rooted in pavements." --Aldo Leopold.  Fitting.

Striking a nice pose entering the beautiful Door County.

Goofing at the beach, Whitefish Dunes State Park.

The Last Supper--Chili beans, tuna, gas station condiment packets, 50 cent cigars, and Milwaukee's Best Ice (we tried to go with local options throughout the trip.)  Is it sad or wonderful how happy this made us at the time?  I say wonderful.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Another good one in Illinois' NW corner...

This weekend Agatha and I set out on another good long ride to Elizabeth.  Her father and uncle had spent the past week reparing flood damage to their home there, and our plan was to meet them there Friday night, get a ride back on Saturday, and celebrate Easter on Sunday.  Everything worked out perfectly.  I rode the Casseroll equipped with my Revelate Tangle bag, and Agatha carried a light load on a rear rack aboard her brand-spankin-new SALSA VAYA!  It is an awesome bike and it performed flawlessly on it's first test.  Agatha commented the large tires, disc brakes, and extra gears made the once dominating gravel hills of Jo Daviess and Carrol counties fun!  So yeah, Friday we clocked about 110 miles again (following a similar route to our last trip), and having a tail wind and sunshine the ENTIRE day made the ride seem to fly by.  We also both noticed a bit of mental toughness gained from our grueling Monticello adventure ("Only one hundred miles?  With a tailwind?  HA!").  We kinda felt like we were cheating, but we had so much fun we didn't care.  Agatha and I arrived just before sun set, and enjoyed beer, food, and campfire before turning in.

Saturday brought more good riding.  After a slow morning of eggs, coffee, and helping out with some of the repair work going on, Ag and I decided we would ride north to Charles' Mound, the highest point in all of Illinois!!! (Funnily enough, this location has a page on Summit Post, a mountaineering info site.  Click here for the link.)  We didn't get going till about 1PM.  Unfortunately, while grabbing some snacks in the town of Scales Mound, we were told the mound is privately owned and only open to the public during the summer months.  Oh well.  The riding was good regardless, with plenty of climbing for our sore legs.  Ended up with about 40 miles for the day.

All in all, it was another good weekend of riding.  If  you enjoy cycling the views, roads, and hills of Illinois' Northwestern unglaciated region really are not to be missed.  Consistent weekend missions to that part of the state could start to become a regular thing, as I firmly believe it is the best riding destination within a reasonable distance from DeKalb.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Break write up

So my original plans for spring break of heading to Arkansas for a climbing trip at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch were shot by the extreme weather that tore through the southeast this week.  Instead, myself along with Agatha racked up 360+ miles and over 24 hours of riding time on our bikes.  I talked about the 85 mile ride in the previous post, but the other two rides we did consisted of a 110 mile ride to her family's house outside of Elizabeth, and a punishing 155 mile ride to my home in Monticello.  These two rides contrast sharply in almost every way.

The ride to Elizabeth was simply beautiful.  We experienced wonderful, clear, sunny weather with zero mechanical failures and great stops/scenery along the way.  The nature of the route we took was a good challenge, with the total elevation gain tripling in the last twenty miles.  Neither of us minded much though, as the gravel hills of northwestern Illinois undoubtedly offer some of the best riding and views in the area.  Agatha's roommates met us at her cabin later that night after we arrived, and we celebrated with a gigantic bowl of guacamole and cold beer.  Afterwards we both agreed that it was the most fun ride we had ever done, and we enjoyed every second of it.

The ride to Monticello was an altogether different experience.  This was going to be (by far) the longest day either of us had spent on our bikes.  The beginning of the route was not so bad, heading south into Ottowa, and over the Illinois River though Marseilles.  It was about at mile sixty that we started to realize what we had gotten ourselves into.  This was when the winds began to really pick up, and for the rest of the ride, we fought a strong headwind coming directly out of the south.  I'm sure some people will understand, but it is hard to convey how draining and discouraging it was to ride into the wind for twelve hours straight.  There was never a second of relief.  I have never felt so frustrated, exerting myself fully against such an unyielding force.  The scenery was flat, vast, and uninspiring.  The roads were straight as an arrow, with little variation.  This was definitely "type two" fun.  We also avoided near disaster around mile 65 when the bolt securing one of Agatha's derailleur pulley wheels un-threaded and the entire component fell out onto the road. We managed to find the pulley but not the bolt.  Miraculously, one of the bolts from my stem was the right length and diameter to hold the pulley wheel in place, and it worked fine for the final ninety miles of the ride.  Other than that, I have little to say about this experience.  It was grueling, but it was always something I wanted to do.  This was probably the first ride I've done that pushed me to my limits both mentally and physically.  It was satisfying to set a new personal record, and I'm sure I'll do another big ride like this someday. Just not into a headwind.


I would also like to add that I am coming up on the one year anniversary of owning my Salsa Casseroll.  It has been a fantastic bike and I'm happy to say that I've put over 2,000 miles on it since purchasing it last April.  I cannot think of a time where it has failed me in any way on a ride, not even so much as a flat tire.  It's a great machine that has taken me on many adventures and made me smile.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

shine up your shoes, polish your coffin

Saturday, March 10th 2012.  Wake up those weak winter legs!  You know you want to!