Sunday, December 20, 2009

Iowa in December

Total miles for the week: 203
Mon 15 easy indoors
Tues 32 Group indoors intervals
Wed 27 easy outside
Thur 40 endurance pace outside
Fri 16 Shop on the rollers 5:58 for Killer 2 miles (best ever)
Sat 33 Outside easy
Sun 40 Endurance pace indoors
Next Week Goal : 175

I think we have been pretty lucky with the weather this December. Last year I only rode outside 3 times for a total of 155 miles. This week I rode outside three times and for the month I have 300 outdoor miles total. Sunday's outside ride got cancelled with the snow coming in early.

I don't mind riding outside if the roads are dry and the wind is not blowing 20+ mph. The big hassle is that it takes 30 minutes to figure out what to wear and get dressed. Gravel roads are great to ride when they are snow covered but in the last week they have been too icy. Last Friday I was on the gravel roads and found myself laying in the middle of the road as the bike went right and I went left. I decided I better wait until some of the ice breaks up before "hitting" them again.

For indoor training I started the second year of Tuesday night indoor group rides in my basement. The turnout has been light the first two weeks but hopefully will pick up as the winter continues. The sessions are usually 75-90 minutes with either a Coach Troy video work out or some other structured workout. My wife is a spin instructor and can be pretty creative with her workouts and I have been know to steal a few of hers.

When the season starts each rider completes and anaerobic threshold test on my indoor trainer. This test is better referred to as the ride-til-u-die test. It is based on Conconi's test to determine anaerobic threshold. Before the test the rider warms up 15-30 minutes. They then ride a pre-programmed 10 minute interval that increases the wattage every 30 seconds. The wattage range is normally 165-412. The subject rides until they can't ride anymore. You are only allowed to stand for your last interval. Since the interval is based on watts not speed shifting or slowing your cadence does not make it any easier. The machine just adds more resistance to keep the wattage at the targeted level. The longest I have made it is 9.5 minutes.

The attached video is Greg Harper on the last 30 seconds.

When repeated at regular intervals this test will let you know if you are in better shape then last time. You can compare your heart rate at a certain watts from previous test. If your hear rate is lower then you are in better shape. My results last week were close to the results from early June right before leaving for RAW and a little better then last year at this time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Somebody order me a C.A.T.scan

Last week I sent in my entry form, and actually got in, to the TRANS IOWA VI. The field limit is only 75 and it fills up within hours of registration opening. I was fortunate enough to have Christopher's girlfriend drop my entry off at the store on the weekend so they would have it first thing on Monday. This is a 300+ mile gravel road race that takes place in central Iowa at the end of April. The course is a big loop that is revealed section by section as you arrive at the check points. The route to the first check point is the only cue sheet you start the race with. As if 300 miles of gravel is not enough of a challenge the race is completely unsupported. You have to carry everything or stop at c-stores along the route. Last year the top riders were done in about 25 hours.
Training for this event will begin after the first of the year. The plan is to ramp up the long rides on the weekends. In late March and early April increase to some 150-200 miles rides. Most of my long rides will be on the roads but I will have to throw in some gravel riding as the date gets closer.

Equipment choice for this race will be very critical. The bike of choice over the last couple of years has been a cyclocross bike or a 29" wheeled mountain bike with cyclocross tires. I don't have either. I am hoping to borrow a cyclocross bike from one of my riding partners for the month of April.

Lights are also a big choice. Riding on the pavement you can get by with less of a light then you can on the gravel. Most paved roads are well marked with very few obstacles. Gravel on the other hand has no white lines along the edges and many potholes and other obstacles. My plan is to us a Schmidt Dyno hub. The output of this light is great and I won't have to worry about carrying batteries. The only problem with this light is that when you stop the light goes out. To over come this I will also have Connie's adventure race head lamp on my helmet. The helmet light will be needed anyway to read the cue sheet and the street signs.

Being unsupported means that you will have to carry extra clothing for temperatures changes plus food to get from town to town. It will be a little hard to find food at 2:00 in the morning when you are in the middle of no where. I have not decided if I want to wear a Camelbak Mule or put a seat rack on the back. Right now I am leaning towards the Camelbak.

Now that winter has arrived the training has tapered off a bit but the goal is to try to get at least one 60-70 mile ride in each week. I am not looking forward to the week that I will be stuck in the basement riding for 3 to 4 hours. I am on target to get 13,000 miles this year with 12,000 being outside.

To mix training up a little I entered the Devil's Cross cyclocross race in Bettendorf a few weeks ago. It was a great workout. I raced the fat tire division first and got first place of 6 and then entered the 40+ open race and got 7th of 8. The open race had 29 entries and I got 19th overall. I was the only rider on a mountain bike. I was in it for the fun and work out and accomplished both.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

RAAM 2010 I am in!!!!

Wednesday June 9th the 29th RAAM will start at noon from the pier in Oceanside California and once again I will be there. For 2010 I will be with the RAAM racers not the RAW racers. This is a big step up from last years RAW but I hope that last years experience will make the move easier. Many of you are amazed that after last years DNF I would once again submit myself to that kind of punishment. Before you call and schedule me for a C.A.T. scan the catch is that in 2010 I will be part of a crew for a RAAM racers not racing myself.

I first met Paul Carpenter at the Balltown Classic in 2008. He was finishing his preparations for the Race Across the West. He and I had been at some of the same events but we never had been formally introduced. That fall as I was finishing the Ultra Iowa 24 hour race I briefly asked him about his RAW experience. He is the one that convinced me to give it a try. In February of 2009 we drove to Florida together to compete in the "24 Hours of Sebring". We talked about racing quite a bit and he told me his plans to compete in RAAM 2010. I offered to crew if he needed some help. Last week I got an e-mail from him asking if I was still interested.

Paul has been the top "Big Dog" the last three years riding over 20,000 miles each year and already at 19,000 this year. He lives in Batavia Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and works at Northern Illinois University and rides 31 miles each way to work. You can read some of his ride entries at Bigdogs.

As the race gets closer I am sure I will know what the travel details and what my jobs as a crew member will be.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Riding

Late September and early October are pretty depressing as a cyclist. Each week 10 minutes of day light vanishes and then slowly, as the temperatures fall, the winter riding gear starts to surface. First it is just tights and maybe a vest, next long finger gloves and shoe covers. Pretty soon the winter boots and all the wind proof stuff will replace the sleeveless jersey's and sandals. Sweating during an outside ride becomes a result of over-dressing not the heat. The bright side is that in 6 months the summer stuff will slowly start to surface. Some one needs to come up with a slick term for the cycling of cycling gear throughout the Midwest year.

This time of year you have to take advantages of each day that is rideable. Of course the definition of "rideable" will be changing with the weather. Every rider has there own definition and many of my riding partners think that mine is a little insane. Normally for me if the roads are pretty dry you can ride. I have all the clothes needed to ride at any temperature sometimes I don't have the motivation to step out and ride.

Last week during the three days of rain I rolled my trainer with my indoor bike out of the back room in the basement and set it in it's customary spot in front of the TV next to the bar with a fan within reach. I kept thinking I was going to ride indoors but could not get the motivation My trainer of choice is a 1989 model Velodyne with a 1990 Trek 2300 mounted . Schwinn marketed the trainer for a couple years and even had some nation wide competitions. I purchased mine in 1990 and have put about 1500 miles per year on it ever since.

For 1989 this was cutting edge technology. There are pre-programmed race courses plus you can make you own courses. It is similar to the computrainers you can buy today but mine has an LCD screen and you are just a "blip" on the course you are riding.

Last winter I programmed some of the tougher sections of the Race Across the West for training. You can create hills up to 15 percent in one percent increments but the length is limited to 20 miles. You can get a really great hill climb workout. There are nine different levels of racers to chooses from to help push you along. Level seven makes for a nice challenge and level six a nice tempo ride. As long as you stay with the pack you get the benefit of drafting as well.

The goal for this off season is to limit the amount of indoor riding and ride outside as much as possible. The indoor rides need to be specific workout with either hill repeats of 3-6 minute intervals. Last year was one of my lowest indoor mileage years with only 650 mile between January 1st and now. Last year the Tuesday night group move our group rides to my basement with each person bringing is own trainer. This cranked up the motivation and the intensity watching coach Troy videos and giving each other crap.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seven Oaks 24 hour MTB Race

-Chris Caleb Joe -

Labor day weekend I got in way over my head and signed up for the Seven Oaks 24 hour mountain bike race near Boone Iowa. Four or five years ago I ventured onto the dirt several times a year and competed in a few races. In the last couple years my mountain bike has been relegated to the gravel roads and snow. When I stumbled across the information for this race it seemed like a nice change of pace from all the road riding I had been doing this year.

To get ready for the race I got my Schwinn Homegrown tuned up and race ready. I did some test rides around town and through Weed Park and was really enjoying the change of pace. Toward the end of August we had to make a trip to Ames so I used the opportunity to check out the race course. I only had time to ride one loop of the course. The 8 mile loop took 70 minutes and about killed me. My back, shoulders and arms felt like lead. I was not sure how I was going to be able to ride 24 hours or this. The bad part was I had already signed up for the race. To make matters worse the boys had signed up for the two person 12 hour. Chris is a great mountain biker and in great shape. Caleb has only ridden about 5 times all year let alone off road. It was setting up to be an interesting weekend.

The Friday before the race we packed a ton of food, four mountain bikes, camping supplies and anything else you would need for a 24 hour race. The plan was to arrive the night before and set-up camp. Connie would be the main support person with Chris's girlfriend Kelsey helping. Since the race did not start until noon on Saturday we would have plenty of time to get the bikes ready and ride part of the course.

The rules for a 24 hour mountain bike race are little simpler then the road. There are no light or clothing requirements and drafting is allowed. We started with a Leman style start. You lay your bike on the ground, back up about 200 yard. When they start you "run" to your bike and start the race. AFter mounting your bike we climbed a very large hill on a gravel road before heading into the woods.

Chris did the first leg for the boys so we started together. That was the last I saw him on the bike until he lapped me during my fourth lap and thier fifth. I started easy and just wanted to survive as long as I could.

Mountain bike riding is a lot different then road bike riding in that you never get a chance to relax while you are on the bike. Most the time you have to hang on with both hands so even getting a drink is a problem. A camel back is great for the water but there is no way to eat while moving or take electrolyte pills. I could only take e-caps when I was stopped. This turned out not to be that big a deal since there was many times each lap that I had to get off and push up hills or over tree roots.

I got my first cramp at the beginning of the fourth lap about 5 1/2 hours into the race. I had been doing laps in about 1:10 to 1:15 but that lap took me 1:35. There were many times during that lap I had to completely stop and stretch out the cramp. The last half of the lap I pushed my bike up any hill and was only able to ride on the flat and downhill sections.

After that lap I took a 15 minute break to drink a ton, take in more sodium and eat something. Heading out for the fifth lap I was a little worried about how the rest of the race was going to be. But during the next two laps I felt great. It seemed like I was getting the hang of the course and was able to clear a few of the sections that had forced me to dismount the first four laps. I still had a couple small cramps but they seemed to be in control and I was actually having a good time. I was currently in 7th place of 15 and pretty happy with that . Then it got dark.

I like riding at night. I have ridden off road a few times in past so felt pretty confident as the sun went down. That lasted about 10 minutes. This course was tough enough when you could see the obstacles approaching. Now in the dark it was way hard. I had a light on my helmet plus one on the bike. They were OK lights but nothing like the guys that were passing me had. When they came up behind you it looked like daylight. Most of them had one super bright light on the bike and one on there helmet. As I finished the lap I had made up my mind to pack it in for the night and start again in the morning. I was able to see the boys finish thier race as Caleb completed the last of the 10 laps for them at 11:20. He was the only one of us that rode two laps in the dark.

As I was putting things away for the night I noticed there was a problem with the tread of one shoe. As you can see from the picture I did so much walking that I tore the tread right off the bottom of the shoe. To me this was a sign that there would be no more riding at this event. So the next morning we packed things up and headed for home. I was able to ride 9:20 minutes for a total of seven laps of 56 miles. My riding time was right at 8 hours for an average speed of a whopping 7 mph.

Looking back at the race I really had a good time even though it was extremely challenging. If I ever try this type of race again I would definitely do more off road riding and either invest in a really good light of rent one for the night. I underestimated my sodium and water needs for the first four laps and would have to develop a better plan on how to handle that problem.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Metamore 4x50

Metamora 4x50
After some short fast racing it was time to get back to ultra-distance racing. Metamora is 12 miles outside of Peoria and is run by the Big Dogs group out of the Quad Cities. The route is 50 mile loops that are pretty flat, except for one short steep hill at mile four. This was the third time I have done this race but this time Bill Ford was not with me.

I had not done a fast century since the May 31st Balltown so I was not sure what kind of endurance I still had. The forecast was for heat and wind. I don't mind the wind but the heat usually gets me. 88 riders started the race entering either the 100 of 200 mile races. After the hill the group was down to about 30 as we wandered through the cornfield lined roads on our way back to the start area with an 22 mph average.

The goal for most 200 mile races is to stay with the lead group as long as you can. This is not a problem with a flat course. The challenge comes when you complete the first lap and have to stop for food and water or bathroom break. If you don't stop you risk the chance of bonking. If you stop too long you are by yourself for the last 150 miles. I was ready for a quick "splash and dash" and was in and out in less then 30 seconds to ride with the lead group of 8 starting the second lap. We worked well together and actually finished the second lap 2 minutes faster then the first in a time of 2:15. Riders included Paul Carpenter (RAW 2008 winner), Bryce Walsh (600K indoor track record holder), Jay Yost, Dave Haussler, one of Jays teammates, John Schlitter on a recumbent (2008 Solo RAAM finisher and only recumbent solo RAAM finisher) and one other recumbent. By the end of this lap the sun was out and the temperatures were rising. The wind was blowing 15-25 as well.

The end of the second lap pit stop was as quick as the first. During the third lap Paul, plus Jay's teammate stopped at the halfway sag stop for a break. Shortly after that Jay dropped off the pace with mechanical problems as Dave, Bryce, the two recumbents and I pushed on to the 150 mile mark in 6 hours and 58 minutes.

The third pit stop was a little longer, four minutes. I needed to fill my camel back, get some more salt tablets, and get some clean sunglasses. Bryce got a flat as we left the stop and the two recumbents had already left as Dave and I rolled out one last time. We caught John on his recumbent pretty quick but never saw the other recumbent. Dave and John stopped to cool off at the half way sag and I kept going with the goal of finishing in under 10 hours.

I was unable to catch the last recumbent but held on to be the first finisher in the standard frame class in a time of 9:40. Two minutes slower the my fastest time and five minute behind the recumbent. Not too bad considering the wind. Dave was second in 9:52.

My diet, hydration and sodium was right on for the day. During the ride I drank 140 ounces of water, 68 ounces of gatorade, 44 ounces of perpetuim, 29 S-caps with 400 mg of sodium each, 3 bottles of Ensure, 6 Clif shot bloks, 3 bottles of Sobee, 1 bottle of Cytomax and 2 chicken salad sandwiches. With the heat it is hard to eat solids so I had planned to use mainly a liquid diet. This seemed to be the right decision.

A change of pace

Late July and August left me looking for something different. I have not competed in a USCF Cat IV race in a couple of years. I did not have anything going on August 1st so I went to West Branch to compete in the State Road Race Championship.

I heard horror stories about last years death march in the heat with rolling hills but that only made it seem like more of a challenge. The goal was to see if I could hang with the young studs and maybe have a good finish. The race was 54 miles, which is long for USCF events but pretty short compared to what I normally do. I was not too worried about the distance. There was some nice rolling hills but I had trained most of the summer in the hills and RAGBRAI was pretty hilly so that did not worry me. One of my weaknesses has been constant changes in the pace from attacks. I can go steady for a long time but I struggle with quick jumps. I assumed going into the race that there would be a series of attacks as the race progressed. I just wanted to be able to hang on.

The morning of the race produced reasonable temperatures with moderate winds. I was carrying three water bottles, salt tablets and some Clif Shot Bloks so I would not need anybody to hand me up any supplies.

There were 40 riders that started as we rode into a stiff crosswind to start. The pace was moderate but nothing I couldn't handle. 5 miles into the race a rider attacked on the first nice climb and I was in position to go with him. We pushed teh pace a little until the group reeled us in. That was a nice warmup and I was feeling pretty good.

I hung out toward the front of the group most the time and was able to push a pretty good pace up a few hills to keep on the pressure. With 10 miles to go I got a twinge of a cramp. I was not taking enough sodium for the effort combinied with the heat. Fro the next 9 miles I sat towards the back and drank everything I had and pushed more salt. I finished the race without anymore cramps but was in very poor position for the late sprint and finished 11th. It seemed like my fitness for racing was as good as it ever was when I was racing regularly.

Night at the Oval:

Tuesday the 4th Greg Harper, Chad Bishop, Bob Hayes and I made the road trip to Cedar Rapids to race at Hawkeye Downs speedway. This is a great format that is run the first and third Tuesday each month during the summer. This was my second USCF race in four days. I was not looking for results just a good time, good workout, racing with the team and a check on my fitness.

We basically competed in three races. The first 11 lap race I rode at the front to make sure that no one got away without Harper's having a rider in the break. I was able to chase three different attacks down by pushing the pace at a fast steady pace. The second was a combination of a win-and-out and a miss-and-out. In this race the first rider across the line on the first lap won and got to sit out fo the rest of the race. Also the last person across the line was last and had to sit out the rest of the race. I was not able to get across the line first until the last lap. I was never last so I got to ride the most laps to finish in the middle. The third race was like the first only we rode the opposite directions. That race was non-eventful. We also did a one lap race in your hardest gear and a one lap race in your easiest gear. I felt really good the entire night and we had a great time. Over all Greg got third, Chad forth and ninth for me in the A group. Bob raced in the B group and got 8th. Next year we need to make the trip a few more times.

Where have I been??

The summer just flew by once RAW was completed. It seemed like there was no reason for riding/training anymore. I still had to ride RAGBRAI but it was a short year at only 442 miles. There is always the ride out which is a great time. This year Mike Doyle joined me once again and Bill Ford came back after missing a year. But even that ride was going to be short to Council Bluffs at around 300 miles. So I had to get my twisted mind thinking about the next challenge. A few things came to mind including a cross Iowa record attempt.

After some consideration I decided to hold off on any record attempts until next year. June would be a great time to try because of the longer days. The north to south (241 miles) and east to west (275) have never been attempted so just completing the ride, with an official in the follow vehicle, would guarantee a record. This is kind of cheesy but a record is a record. I also have kicked around the south-north-south. Since the south to north has a recorded that crossing could be pushed pretty hard in an attempt to break the record. Once up north I would take a short break and head south. The S-N-S has not been established either so I would establish two records with a chance to break the third. We will see what next year brings.

This still left me with not much motivation or big goals. I usually compete in the Ultra Midwest 24 hour race in Port Byron Illinois. Two years ago I wanted to do my first 400 mile ride and last year I wanted to get RAAM qualified (425) and made both those goals. I do not have a specific goal for this year and was worried that in the middle of the night I would just go home as I had nothing to prove.

Then I saw the flyer for the 24 hour mountain bike race in Boone Iowa and a new adventure started to take shape. This race is held Labor Day weekend, the same as the Ultra Midwest. I have not raced my mountain bike for about 3 years and have never done a race longer then 2 hours. This is definitely going to be a challenge. After committing to the race I talked to a previous winner and he told me the course was brutal. He says there is no flat spots and the entire race takes place in the woods so there is not much air moving. Needless to say this scared me to death.

Seven Oaks has an entire weekend of activities plus camping so we are going to make a family weekend out of it. The boys have even signed up for the 12 hour race. The race starts at noon on Saturday and finishes at noon on Sunday. They even have a free pasta party at midnight on Saturday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

RAW Diet

Below is the list of what I ate and drank during 50 hours of cycling over a little less then three days time. As you see my diet was very diverse. That means that we had a buffet in the van as we moved across the west.

28 bottles of water, 4 bottles of Cytomax, 3 Sobees, 7 bottle of gatorade, 12 clif shot bloks, 5 bottles of Perpetum, 3 ensures, 5 ham or chicken sandwiches, 8 fig newtons, some grapes, banana, 3 cheeses sticks, 2 glasses of chocolate milk, pop tart, 2 dill pickles, 1 piece of meat lovers pizza, a twice baked potato, 3 pieces of beef jerky, rice krispie treat, 2 jelly sandwiches, Twix, 1 bottle of muscle milk, and 2 egg Mcmuffin's. Plus probably a few things that did not get written down.

Add to this probably 50-60 S-caps and many ibuprofen and Aleeve.

Looking back I did not eat enough or have my crew force feed me each hour. If this was a Larry Ide diet it would have been one coke and one candy bar each hour.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Success versus Failure

I have written this report a thousand times in my head, starting as soon as my rear hit the seat 17 miles from Cortez Colorado when I realized I was not going to finish. There are many great quotes about failure. The quote that keeps coming back to me is "Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed."

The entire RAW experience was great. Our family will have memories that we will share forever. I will have stories that my friends will get tired of hearing for the 100th time but I will never get tired of re-living. I knew this was going to be a tough ride but I guess I was not ready for the pain. Saddle sores were a big concern of mine and I did many things to try to limit the occurrence but evidently not enough.

I rode more miles (491) and more hours (35) then I ever have without taking a break. I did more climbing in that 35 hours then I ever care to do. But most big ups have really great downs. I learned that I feel pretty good after 3 hours sleep. Even two nights in a row. I only cramped once and that was the first night on some small rolling hills. It is amazing what 1200 mg of sodium an hour will do. My family got to see more of the country in two weeks then many people see in a lifetime and can be together in a vehicle for two weeks without killing each other. My wife would make a really great nurse. I have friends and family that support me no matter how crazy I am.

I could list many more positives that I have taken from this adventure. The tough part is that several time each day I question my decision to withdraw from the race. I broke an ultra-distance rule by looking at the big picture (275 miles left to ride) instead of breaking the ride into little chunks (50 miles to the next time station). Once the justification of stopping entered my head there was no turning back. Hindsight is 20/20 but I believe withdrawing was the right choice at the time.

Will I do this again? That is a tough question. I really enjoy long rides. It is a great feeling to see the sun come up, go down and come back up while riding. I love riding at night and how it is so much different then riding during the day. Each turn is a surprise that forces you to not anticipate but just participate in the ride living only in the moment. I will be looking for other, questionably sane, but closer to home, riding adventures before I decide if RAW is in my future. I think 2 person or 4 person team Race Across America would be a blast. Riding near the four 75 year old cyclist of team grand pac masters was truly inspirational. That means that I still have almost 30 years to complete a team RAAM.

Thanks to everyone for there words of encouragement before, during and after the race. They really made a difference. I hope you enjoyed following along on this crazy ride and maybe I motivated someone to get out and enjoy bike riding.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


We are finally posting some of the pictures from the trip. Our computer at home crashed so it has taken a little longer to update the web site than anticipated. Check back for updates to pictures and some recaps of the adventure. May have to look at older posts to view additional pictures.
Joe riding through the Desert on Day 1 of RAW
Joe riding up to the Prescott Summit (elev 7,000+feet)
Joe and his oldest son - Chris - share a quick moment for a photo
A great shot of Joe riding on his race. This was a very common scene with the follow vehicle present.
Eric Furnas lives on Red Bull to stay awake!
Joe shares a minute for a photo with son, Caleb, at the Utah border before entering Monument Valley.
The two support vehicles for the race stop on Day 1 along the "Glass Elevator" - a screamin' downhill into the Anza Borrego Desert.
Congress, Arizona - the first "manned" time station had a cool tub with jets, fresh lemonade, homegrown grapefruit, snacks and a place to change clothes. It was aweseome!!
Caleb and Eric at the first Time Station - call RAAM Headquarters to report that Joe had made it to that station.
Caleb doing a handoff at a time station
Joe getting his hand-ups at Time Station 2 - Lake Henshaw. Eric and Chris are handing up.
Joe at the Start Line for Race Across the West - June 17, 2009
Team "Mann Powered"

Joe Mann
Connie Mann
Chris Mann
Eric Furnas
Caleb Mann

Right before the Race start.

All of the Race Across the West Riders.
Joe and Connie just before Joe starts his race.
RAAM Officials inspect Joe's bike, wheels, and the support vehicles.
Preparing the support vehicles.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Morning

Joe arrived in Cortez, Colorado at 3:30 a.m. mountain time. A rider can get in the vehicle to go to a hotel as long as the crew calls the RAAM Headquarters. Joe was 18 miles before Cortez when they decided to head for the hotel for sleep. Eric and Chris were living on 5-hour energy, Red Bull and Mountain Dew. Caleb and I slept for 6 hours. At 6:30 a.m. we headed back to the point where Joe got in the van and called Headquarters to let them know Joe was back on route. He was in extreme pain and the road surface was bad so it made it impossible for him to sit on his saddle. We stopped and made him a PB&J sandwich that he had requested and ate that. He said there was no way he could continue. We tried to motivate him to keep going but it is painful to the crew to try to motivate someone who is in severe pain. It hurts to watch him! Joe got back on his bike and as we came in to Cortez, he asked for a ham, egg and cheese croissanwich from Burger King and he would meet us at Time Station #13. When we stopped at the time station, Joe made the decision to pull out of the race. It was hard for me to call in to RAAM Headquarters and let them know of this decision. Talked to Barb, the manager and she was very encouraging and said that Joe has all of there respect and that it is tough just to get to the start line. With all of this said and posted, we have moved everything we had in the rental vehicle to our vehicle (complete re-packing). We are getting ready to head to TAOS, via our van. Eric is heading out to meet his wife and son in Denver. Joe did a fabulous job and we are all VERY proud of him. The crew did outstanding!!! More later. Thanks for reading the blog and for all of your support!
Connie for Team Mann Powered

Friday, June 19, 2009


I haven't mentioned that the scenery has been incredible and we have taken some awesome pictures and video and will try to upload a couple when we can. RAAM media crew took multiple pics of Joe today throughout Monument Valley, so check the RAAM web site.

Cortez, Colorado

I can't tell you how many times I've heard from Joe - "I understand why firearms aren't allowed to be carried during the race." It's been brutal. There were 5 individuals that signed up for the 50 and under category for the Race Across the West, 4 that started the race and only 2 left in the race. One of Joe's opponents quit in Flagstaff and that was Forward Motion - (Mike). Joe made it to Flagstaff at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night, quite a bit later than he had originally anticipated. The climbing was insane!! He had one heck of a climb into Flagstaff. I helped him when he arrived get some serious wounds taken care of. (Yeah, nurse duty). He slept for 4 hours before we got up at 3:30 a.m. Flagstaff time and Chris and I were crewing for him this early morning shift, on the road at 4 am. Chris mentioned that he doesn't think he has ever seen his Dad so close to tears before as he was this morning. It wasn't really the fact that it was 44 degrees starting out, but the fact that he couldn't find a comfortable spot on his bike seat. He's eating and drinking pretty well. We found today that plain jelly sandwiches are tasting good to him. He also has been eating other foods and drinking ensure which is a great quick meal. I would be in bed right now (11:43 pm mountain time) but I need to do a load of laundry so Joe has some clean clothes for his ride Saturday. Caleb and I came ahead early tonight to get some rest and Christopher and Eric are helping him get into the time station. Joe had planned to sleep in Durango but decided around 4:00 this afternoon that he wouldn't make it to Durango until 5 or 6 am so we cancelled our rooms in Durango and were able to get rooms in Cortez, Co.

Last I heard, Dallas Morris is still ahead of Joe by 3 hours or so. Most of you that follow the race web site know exactly where these guys are, but we haven't even been able to get cell phone signals, let alone try to update the computer during the day.

Not sure if I'll be able to update before Taos, but will try.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flagstaff, AZ

Joe is on his way to Flagstaff. He had a very, very tough day! I can't tell you how many thousands of feet he climbed, including Yarnell Pass which I believe was an 8% grade for 8 miles. And it was hot too. It's all starting to run together after only a couple of hours of sleep for the crews last night. We keep telling ourselves that Joe hasn't had ANY sleep yet!! Twice today he was getting really tired - once was at 4 am. We played music over our loud speaker for him and gave him 2 pieces of Jolt gum which is like a cup of coffee. That really helped. Again he was getting tired this afternoon after Prescott. We gave him more gum and that helped. He missed a turn and we got him back on the right path. There were two climbs today that support was not allowed at all because of all the switchbacks and narrow roads. He is a real trooper. Chris and I left everyone at Cottonwood (one of the time stations) so we could come to Flagstaff and hopefully get at least 5 hours sleep. We have been up for 20 hours. I'm very nervous about Joe coming in to Flagstaff. We came up on 89A North I believe. It's beautiful in the daylight but I wouldn't want to climb in on a bike and especially not at night. At least with Eric and Caleb doing night support, it will be mandatory that they follow right behind him from 8 pm. He will need those headlights and the support! Crew is doing pretty good - tired, but hanging in there. I better call it a night and sleep while I can. Oh - almost forgot. Joe gets to sleep tonight, for a few hours anyway. I see the low in Flagstaff is about 42 degrees -- much, much colder than it has been so I'm not sure how tough it will be to get motivated and get out of bed to go ride. Thanks for reading the blog and for your support and prayers!!! In case you are wondering, it looks like Joe is in 2nd place, behind Dallas Morris by about 2 hours at this point.


Blythe - CA. Chris and I had about 2 1/2 hours sleep at a hotel in Blythe, CA before we received the phone call from Crew #1 (Caleb and Eric) that Joe was about 16 miles away from Blythe. We met Joe and Crew 1 at the Time Station which was a gas station. Joe said the bugs were nasty, the roads were rough and it's hot. It only got down to 82 degrees for a low. Of course, I like it because I like hot weather. :) He had some food at the time station and is now on a 30-mile stretch of interstate. INTERSTATE! And it's very busy too. Chris is driving and we are in follow mode. He has a nice 10' paved shoulder to ride on and we can't do any handoffs on the interstate unless we exit on a ramp. He has gone about 240 miles. - Connie

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the road...

Joe is through time station 2 in Brawley, CA and is riding through the desert. It is nighttime and its about 90 degrees. The heat is getting to Joe a little bit but he is still doing terrific! Averaging about 18.5mph on the bike and only has about 10min off the bike for the first 150miles. He is doing great and will ride through the night. We went by a lot of about 10,000+ cows and it smelled worse than Iowa hog farm in July! A funny story...Connie and Chris were driving through a Sand Dune recreation area and when they came up a little hill, a police car stopped them and a few cars behind them. Eventually, a semi driver went up and asked the cop what was going on and he told us he was holding us because they were "Taking care of a little business" up ahead on the other side of the hill. I should mention that we were less than 20 miles from the Mexican border... Anyway, keep reading! Updates will be sporadic due to sleeping schedules.


Well, we are officially checked in. The vehicles are official, the bike is official, the photos are taken. Now it is time to race. We have been getting the whole setup ready since we arrived on Sunday evening. Everything is locked, loaded, and ready to go. Only a small 1044 mile jaunt to Taos, NM and it will really be official.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thank you

A big thanks to all who helped us financially for the race. Thanks to Greg Harper for all the things he has done to make sure my bike is ready; Mike Doyle and Bill Ford for putting up with my insanity and helping to make sure my legs are ready; Paul Carpenter for all his advice and confidence-building. Jody Shoppa for working on our van and making sure it was ready for the trip. Lastly, thank you to the Big Dog group for organizing three very challenging and hilly rides to make sure my training got me as ready as a mid-westerner can be for the mountains. This has been a crazy dream(or nightmare) but it will be one that myself as well as the team will never forget.

Melon City Bike Club
Rick Buller
Big Dogs
Hy-Vee of Muscatine

Bill Ford
Craig Fry
Nancy Foxen
Ed and Karla Longstreth
Jeff & Amy Castro

Alma Brunson
Christina Kloser
Greg & Karen Harper
Angie Sink
Dave Bender
Charlie & Jean Harper
Becky Brooker
Dave Everhart
Jennifer Middents
Becky Zeck
Dave Hurlbut
Jim Dotson
Bill & Carrie Harper
Deb & Keith Elliott
Jo Drahos
Bill Pierce
Diana Barry
Jodi Heth
Bob & Sandy Hayes
Diane Olson
Joel Christiansen
Bret McGreer
Eldon Ballenger
Jon Purvis
Brett & Ernie Guerra
Eric & Jenny Furnas
Julie & Mark Evans
Carla Byrd
Fred Lane
Kandice Tjebkes
Karen & Matt Meyer
Mike Taylor
Stacey & Tom Eberhard
Kay Ribbink
Monica Halstead
Steve Fowler
Larry Martin
Nancy Shell
Steve & Marla Lee
Lavene Payne
Paula Gillespie
Tammy King
Lisa Longtin
Peg Heither
Teri Lyon
Lori Lewis
Randy Hill
Tim Kelly
Mario Garcia
Randy Howell
Tina & Randy ball
Marta & Jim Burnham
Rita Painter
Traci Arceo
Mary Ellsworth
Sandy Cordrey
Wendy Durham
Mike & Vesta Doyle
Sara Stych

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Secret Weapon revealed!!!

I know that some of my competitors are following the other rider blogs. That is why I have waited so long to post what my secret weapon will be of the Race Across the West. My secret weapon is my wife and crew chief Connie.

Connie and I will celebrate our 23rd anniversary the day RAW is officially completed on the 21st of June. Her first crewing experience was Paris-Brest-Paris 2003. She was able to meet me at every time station along the route to feed and water me and listen to me complain about how much further I had to ride. Crewing for PBP is not an easy task if you had a co-pilot but she did it solo. Each time check was about 50 miles apart so she had three hours to drive to the next town (by the way the vehicles do not follow the bike route they have to go around the route), find the check-in point, get a parking spot, find and purchase food (guessing what I was hungry for) and be back somewhere on the route where I could find her. I would be there maybe 15 minutes and then the entire process started again.

In 2006 and 2007 she and Eric signed up for the 6 hour challenge at the Ultra-Midwest race. After riding they crewed the rest of the day/night for me. In 2008 she crewed the first half with Chris and the second half Eric came up to help.

When I finally made up my mind to enter RAW she immediately started working. Her first task was fund raising. She wanted to sell something to raise the money and came up with the idea of baking pecan or pumpkin pies and selling them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She made close to 50. After Christmas she opened the choices to any kind of pie you wanted. To date she has made over 100 pies and raised over $1500.

My wife has always been the travel agent of the family. I think she enjoys planning the trip almost as much as the enjoys the trip itself. As you can imagine RAW can be a huge logistical task. Just the drive out and the stay in Oceanside can be daunting let alone finding Hotels along the route at just the right distance to make it ideal for the rider and crew. There was also the second vehicle to rent(point to point), and airline tickets for Eric.

Other tasks that you don't even think about are vehicle/bike inspections and photo sessions at the beginning of the race, the correct signs for the vehicles, documents that are needed for the drivers, first aid supplies, and the list of "little" things goes on and on.

All the above mentioned thing are just what she does for the trip. There are many other ways that she has supported me in the last 6 months while I was training. She has dropped me off/picked me up for tailwind rides in the winter when I am too much of a weenie to fight the winds. Many Saturday's are spent at home doing the house work while I am out riding. Making sure the maintenance on the van is up to date. Convincing me to ride on days when I don't feel like riding. Reminding me to take care of the few things that I need to do for the race.

While she is doing all this she is still training 10-12 hours per week for triathlons. If you have ever seen our fireplace mantle you know who the real athlete of the family is. At the end of each year we take all the plaques, trophies, certificates and other prizes she has won for the year and put them away. It only takes one season to fill the shelf back up with awards. She has twice been the Quad Cities female multi-sport champion and top 5 in the Midwest Multi-sport. in 2006 she competed at the World Championships in Hawaii. She has been nationally ranked in the top 10 percent of her age group most years and is a real force to be reckoned with on the bike. Her latest physical challenge has been adventure racing.

I have been riding for over 20 years and have been fortunate to have a wife that understands my obsession. Not only does she understand but I am lucky enough to share the adventures with her. The few of us riders that are lucky enough to be in that situation need to thank our spouses more often then we do.

Thank you Connie for everything you do to support me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Balltown Classic

What a great conditions for an out and back bike ride to the north! 51 degrees at the 5:00 am start time with no wind. The forecast for the day was to be near 80 with north west breezes increasing as the day progressed. About 30 ultra-distance cyclists from all over the Midwest gathered in Dewitt Iowa for the Balltown Classic. Bill Ford and Mike Doyle joined me for this year's ride. For Mike this was his third start and for Bill it was his fourth in a row. I was lining up for my fifth consecutive attempt.

The first 60 miles went by quickly as 12 of us rolled into the first stop in 2:50. If you have never seen a sag stop at an ultra-distance event it is more like a pit stop in NASCAR then a RAGBRAI stop. I personally like to be in and out in less then one minute. My stop includes two new water bottle, slam down a bottle of Ensure, and grab a bag with a sandwich to eat halfway to the next stop then back on the road. The goal is to be out towards the front of the group so you don't have to chase. I was the fourth rider back on the road. For most riders, including Mike, first and foremost is a bathroom break. Unfortunately Mike took a little too and never caught back up with the rest of the group.

After the "stop" the route gets hillier and our group dwindled down to 8. At the 85 mile mark as you leave Epworth you enter some back roads that wind around and take you to the turn around at Balltown. This 20 mile stretch has three very steep and long climbs. They all are over 10% grade and one gets up to 18%. Throw in some pretty bad road conditions and you get one heck of a workout.

The eight of us rolled into Balltown (Bill and I sprinted for the sign and he won) for the turn around in 5:07. The turn around is actually at the 105 mile mark so we were still averaging over 20 mph. Not too bad for a bunch of old guys. Other then RAAM finisher Bryce Walsh I don't think any of us were under 40. At Balltown Bill and I decided to wait for Mike and finish the ride together. None of the three of us had ever finished with anybody. Each year on the way back it seemed like ever-rider for themselves. We decided we had nothing to prove and since the three of us had been planning this all year why not enjoy it. Besides misery loves company. Stopping time in Balltown was 35 minutes.

We picked up, and dropped a few riders going back through the big hills. The worst climb we sped up the hill at a whopping 5.5 mph. Back on the flat the three of us worked well together. Nothing hard just steady and efficient as the three of us rolled into the "stop" at 150 miles. We were number 6,7 and 8 to arrive 40 minutes behind the leaders. Three other riders left right after we arrived so we were within sight of third place. Just as Mike was getting comfortable at this stop I told him it was time to go and he would have to eat his food on the bike. This stop totaled about 10 minutes.

The tailwind picked up as we head back through Lost Nation to Dewitt. We were rolling along when we looked up and saw the other three riders. One of them had just got a flat and they all stopped to help him fix it. That is a great thing about Ultra-distance riding. No rider left behind. The guy with the flat was out of tubes so he borrowed one from Bill and a CO2 from me. That time got a hole as soon as we aired it up. It looked like his valve stem hole was causing his problems so Bill used the old tube to make a boot to cover the hole and he borrowed Mikes tube and got rolling again. The three of us pushed it in the tailwind (25-30 mph) and lost two of the riders and finished with Paul Carpenter. Paul was the only finisher of RAW last year and went with Bill and I to Florida in February. This gave me some time to pick his brain about my upcoming race. We were finishers 3,4,5 and 6 in 10:48 with a riding time of 9:55. In Ultra-distance events they only keep time to the minutes not seconds so there is no sprinting to the finish unless you can get a one minute gap. After 201 miles nobody was sprinting.

Food and drink for the ride:
Two 70 oz camelbacks of water, 48 oz of Gaterade, 60 oz of Cytomax Energy Drink, 24 oz Perpetuim, 2-20 oz Sobee's, three chicken salad sandwiches, 10 fig newtons, three ensures, three cheese sticks, one package of Clif Shot Bloks, 20 Succeed S!Caps(no cramps on this ride for the first time).

Check back for the Crew Chief profile and my final thoughts and preparations as the race is only two weeks away.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bob Breedlove - Legend and an Iowan

Bob Breedlove (1952-2005), Des Moines, Iowa, racing in the Race Across America. Breedlove was inducted into the Ultracycling Hall of Fame in 2005.


Race Across the West (RAW) and Race Across America (RAAM) Racers start their cycling odyssey in Oceanside, California, leaving the sound of the Pacific Ocean surf hitting Oceanside Pier and enjoy a police-escorted “parade” up The Strand and the San Luis Rey bike path. By the time they cross under I-15, the parade is over and they’re racing with the RAAM staff providing minimal neutral support. The first time that Crews may accompany their Racers on the route comes after about 21 miles. Separate suggested, but not mandatory, routing is provided from the Start for the follow cars and for other Crew vehicles not allowed on the course until after crossing the coastal mountain range. A series of moderate climbs away from the ocean takes the Racers into the shadow of Palomar Mountain near the crest of the Laguna Mountains. Then, not unlike a blast furnace, the temperatures rapidly climb into triple digits during the steep, dizzying, twisty, 3500-foot descent of the “Glass Elevator” into the Anza Borrego Desert. Desert conditions could get even more difficult below sea level along the southern shore of the Salton Sea, as rising humidity levels make a mockery of the “at least it’s a dry heat” West Coast mantra. Brawley, California, is the RAAM first- day desert oasis with a Time Station and full services between two hot 90-mile sections. These sections take Racers over san dunes and through Colorado River Valley agricultural communities to Blythe and the Interstate Highway I-10 bridge to Arizona.

Without an extensive desert detour there is no alternative to riding the shoulder of I-10 for 30 miles as the race enters Arizona. The route trends up over the eastern lip of the Colorado River Valley to Quartzite (last 24-hour fuel opportunity until Prescott) and then departs the limited-access highway hazards on US 60. The barren stretch between Wenden and Gladden will be mentally demanding: for over 20 miles, the road is perfectly straight and not even the string of telephone poles along the left side of the road appears to alter in appearance. The desert is not a forgiving environment and there are few turnout opportunities for support vehicles maintaining the posted speed. 350 miles into the race, Yarnell Grade along with subsequent climbs into Prescott, finally allow the Racer to bid farewell to low desert conditions while providing white-knuckle driving for support vehicles.

Taking pages from historic RAAM routes of the mid 1980s, this race follows the mountain route from Prescott through Jerome, Cottonwood, and Sedona to Flagstaff. It is suggested that support vehicles not required for this 90-mile section use the fast SR89/I-40 bypass to avoid being trapped into illegal caravanning on the mountain roads and narrow streets of Jerome. The 24 Hour Challenge ends in Flagstaff.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do I need a CAT Scan?

Weekly Long rides:
4/04 112 Miles three loops
4/11 125 Miles 200K Brevet
4/25 101 Miles solo
5/02 145 Miles three loops
5/08 168 Miles to Ames
5/16 260 Miles the last 160 with Crew Support
5/23 246 Miles 58 in the dark then 300K Brevet

One of my riding partners (well at least one if not more) accused me of needing to have my head examined after riding 260 miles on a very windy and chilly Saturday May 16th. So to prove he was probably right, I completed the Big Dog's 300K (189) mile ride on Saturday. That in itself is not too crazy since there were 12 others who completed the ride. The crazy part was riding 58 miles ahead of time. The ride started at 5:00 am so I had to leave my house at 1:30 am Saturday morning to make it to LeClaire in time to start the ride. This did not thrill my wife.

The 300K ride was a great training ride for RAW because of the amount of long climbs. The 189 mile out and back route started from Leclaire and basically did the Sunday TOMRV optional century route backwards. The towns we passed through were McCausland, Follets, Low Moor, Elvira, Sabula, Bellevue, St. Donatus and then Key West. Key West is basically Dubuque. It sits at the top of the hill where highway 52 and 61 cross just south of Dubuque.

Mike Doyle has been a great riding partner to have around this spring. He did the 50/50 in April the 50/50/50 in May and was even crazy enough to join me for 100 miles of the windy ride on the 16th. After all that, he was still up for the challenge of this 189-mile adventure as well. To top it off, he is already signed up for the very challenging 200 mile Balltown Classic on May 30th.

Mike and I were joined by Larry Ide from Monmouth. Larry is a legend in Ultra-Distance cycling and has many notable results on his resume. I have done several rides with Larry and it is always interesting to see what his diet for the ride will be. Check out the diet for a 400K he completed last year. On this ride Coke was his main fluid of choice and he always had two in his water bottle cages.

The ride featured 8,400 feet of climbing with steep climbs between Sabula and Bellevue and long gradual climbs between Bellevue and Key West. The three of us stayed together the entire ride. The weather conditions were great with very little wind until we had about 50 miles to go and then it was tailwind to blow us back to LeClaire. Our total time was 10:45 with 9:25 (20.1 mph avg) on the bike.

The Balltown Classic ride is up next on May 30th. I have participated the last four years in this event. This out and back rides starts in Dewitt features 11,000 feet of climbing as you head north to the little town of Balltown north of Dubuque. The ride starts out like a race with a pretty big group staying together until you start to hit the hills at about mile 50. Then the group shatters and it turns into individual survival. The last two years Bill Ford has been the first finisher and I have come in fourth. The goal for this year is to get done in around 10 hours to set the course record. Check in next week for the write up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Spotlight this week is on Eric Furnas. Eric is a close friend of the family and has provided support for Joe in previous ultra-distance cycling events. As a cyclist, Eric has competed in various races including six hour races, time trials, and cyclo-cross events. Since Eric has a background of swimming, it only made sense that he also compete in triathlons. For the past 6 years, Eric has competed in various triathlons including sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons. This year, Eric is training to complete his first Half Ironman. The past two years, Eric has also started to dabble in adventure racing and recently was a participant in the largest Adventure Racing Camp in the nation.

Eric is not only an athlete, but a husband and a father. He and wife, Jenny, have been married four years and have a son, Camden, who will turn 3 years old on June 16th, just one day before Race Across the West begins. As a three year old has yet to grasp the concept of exactly when his birthday should be celebrated, the family will throw Camden’s party on Saturday the 13th so that Eric can catch his flight to Oceanside the next morning. Jenny and Camden are then meeting Eric in Colorado immediately following the Race Across the West for a family vacation of fly fishing, hiking, and white water rafting.

Eric has a multitude of other hobbies, which his strongest passion is for scuba diving and hopefully plans to find time for a dive just a day or two before the Race Across the West begins. Other pastimes include hunting and fishing when possible. Recently he and son Camden have shared various entertaining moments fishing at a family-owned pond.

Teaming up with our son Caleb during the Race Across the West, Eric will provide great significance to our team. He brings technical support, creativity (web-site updates), enthusiasm, and humor to the team. He and Caleb will get along perfectly during the race.

We’re pleased that Eric was able to get time away from his busy new job as Director of Administrative Services for Muscatine County. Hopefully, crewing for team “Mann Powered” will be a memorable experience, as well as, an enjoyable vacation for him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Going Further

Last weeks Miles: 341
Monday: 33 Miles easy
Tuesday: 73 Miles Hard group ride
Wednesday: 31 Miles Dinner ride
Friday: 168 Miles to Ames
Sunday: 36 Miles Easy

The training ride of the week was to ride 175 miles to Ames and move Chris home for the summer. He had already come to town last week and drove the van to Ames. So he just need the help loading. Early in the week the forecast was for strong winds out of the west-northwest all day. I figured I was not in a hurry and would just take my time. Thursday they had changed it to south-east winds switching to the west in the afternoon. Needless to say the new forecast made me very happy.

I started at 6:00 as the fog was rolling in. It wasn't too bad as I headed out F70 and turned north to Atalissa. Heading towards West Liberty the fog got really thick. I could not even see the houses along the road. Considering myself lucky to make it to West Liberty, I decided to wait out the fog at the C-Store. So I ate some breakfast and read the West Liberty newspaper - All of the West Liberty Newspaper. Forty minutes later I was back on the road.

As the fog dissipated my route took me west to the Sand Road, north into Iowa City and then I planned to work my way across town to get back to Highway 6 before heading through Tiffin. This was no problem since it was 9:00 by now and traffic was pretty light.

Highway 6 from Iowa City to Marengo looked to be the busiest road of the entire trip. Once I got past the new high school they were building in Tiffin, and the dump truck traffic, it was not an issue. Marengo to Belle Plaine was a great ride. There was about a 5 mph tail wind and the road had a paved shoulder. A quick stop in Belle Plaine and I was off through Chelsea (2008 RAGBRAI stop) and into Tama (2008 RAGRBAI overnight).

Marshalltown was to be the lunch stop at the 135 miles mark and call Chris to have him come ride towards me. I passed the first C-Store in town to grab one on the other side of town but one never appeared. After Marshalltown there is really no towns until Colo and I needed to stop and get water and something to eat. As I was headed south towards highway 30 I saw a water tower and some building so I headed off route about 1/2 mile to try my luck. It was the Marshall County sheriff's office and a rural water tower. I stopped at the waer tower, called Chris (no answer), ate the last bit of food I had, finished my water and headed towards Ames.

There is a county road that parallels highway 30 from Marshalltown all the way to Ames. After Nevada there is a bike lane into Ames. On the map this looks like a great route. Actually the road from Marshalltown to Colo is one of the roughest roads I have ridden in a long time. I think the traffic on highway 30 would have been better.

In State Center I stopped and finally got some water. The sky was looking ugly as Chris called to tell me he got my message and that the rain was moving into Ames so he was not going to ride. I told him to stay put and I would call if I wanted him to come get me. Three miles from Nevada I called as the black clouds with thunder and lightning moved in.

Once the storm broke and it was only raining I got back on the road for Nevada. He met me at the Casey's in Nevada and I loaded the bike and jumped into the dry van. I should have kept riding but it was too easy to quit at this point. 168 miles total. 10:30 hours with 8:45 riding time 19.0 mph avg.

Training Plan
5/16 300 miles with the support team
5/23 186 mile Brevet in LeClaire
5/30 200 miles Balltown Classic

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2008 RAW Winner's Write-up

Weekly Miles - 4/27-5/3 330 total
Tuesday: 63 miles hilly group ride
Wednesday: 60 miles tempo with Mike D
Thurday: 31 Easy
Saturday: 145 miles, three loops with Mike and others
Sunday: 31 miles easy

Paul Carpenter was last year's winner and the only finisher of RAW. You can review his race write up here. Paul travelled to Florida with Wiford and I in February.

This week's long ride is 175 miles to Ames on Friday to help Chris move back home. Check back for the write up on that adventure and the rest of the crew profiles later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not much to write about

Weekly miles 297
Tuesday: 47 hard group ride
Wednesday: 70 tempo
Thursday: 19 easy
Friday: 40 Funk's hill repeats
Saturday: 101 endurance pace
Sunday: 20 recovery

The ride Saturday was an unexpected century. Caleb was supposed to play tennis at 1:00 and the forecast was for rain off and on. I headed out at 8:45 with the plan of riding 60 or so. At 1:00 Connie called to say tennis was cancelled. Looking at the sky I thought 100 was a possibility. I did not got very far from home and covered almost every road in western Muscatine county and some in northern Louisa. Lunch stop was at Grandview for Godfathers pizza at the C-store. I can't ever remember having pizza in the middle of a ride but it sat pretty well. This is a great option for RAW.

Friday was the first hill workout I had done in while. It as super windy and Caleb had tennis at 5:00 so my time was limited to 2 hours. Funk's hill is pretty protected so I decided to do five repeats of the hill, then go back in G28 and back out the Burlington road to the start of the hill. This loop is 3.75 miles and gives you two pretty good climbs plus the head wind out Burlington road. I wanted each climb to be faster then the previous for all 5. My times were 2:36, 2:32, 2:26, 2:19 and 2:12. The last time up the heart rate was 187. To finish the workout I went up Miller's hill (Fletcher street) on the way to the high school. Afterwards my legs felt pretty good as if I should have pushed it more.

I need at least one hard hill workout each week leading up to the race. I have attached a YouTube video of the Yarnell pass in Arizona to show why. This 8 mile climb is just out of Congress AZ on the way to Prescott AZ and comes at around the 300 miles mark of the race. Since the race starts at noon I hope to hit this part of the ride around 7-8 AM. The goal will be to get there before it gets too hot. Last year in the afternoon is was 110 at the bottom of the climb. In Prescott they had a wading pool in the shade for the rides to cool off. You will see some of the teams doing "exchanges" during the climbs. They are usally the ones going really fast. There are many You Tube videos from RAAM 2008.

Monday, April 13, 2009

CREW Spotlight of the Week - Chris

--I (Chris) am writing this from a 15 passenger van on my way to Lubbock, TX for the Collegiate National Triathlon competition.--
I am 19 and a freshman at the Iowa State University. I am majoring in Diet and Exercise. There are probably people wondering... "Wow. Does it get any easier for a triathlete than a major in diet and exercise?" Well, to answer that there is probably some major I could have that is easier but there is nothing I enjoy more than what I am learning about. My main focus is going to be in sports nutrition and I hope to one day be either a personal nutritionist or become a nutritionist for a sports team. I think this is what I bring to the team. Even though Dad (Joe) usually knows what he needs to eat and drink, I have been doing some research on whast he really should be consuming while riding 20-22 hours each day. It might be a little different than what a lot of you probably have in mind.
One of my life passions is triathlons. I have done over 65 multisport races in the last 6 years. ISU has a triathlon club that is one of the largest and fastest growing groups on campus. Currently there are about 50 members and there are 33 of us on our way to race at Texas Tech against 1000 of the best collegiate triathletes from 100 schools from across the nation. Here are a few names you might recognize: Navy, Army, Air Force, University of Colorado, Southern California, UCLA, and our in-state rivals Drake (you see...Iowa really doesn't contest. Sorry!)
Two weeks ago (you know...the weekend of that mini-blizzard that came across the midwest?)10 of us from the ISU tri club went down to beautiful Galveston, TX to do a "warm-up" triathlon. 5 members did the sprint distance race on Saturday and 5 of us did the quarter-ironman distance race on Sunday. ISU was well represented. I ended up finishing 18th overall out of about 800 total in the quarter-iron distance (if you take out the elites it was 4th) and I won my age group. This was awesome to have my first experience in a new age group (20-24) be a win!
Another thing I think I bring to the team is I have inadvertently been practicing my long-hour driving by making numerous trips to Chicago/Milwaukee for my current job working for Jeff Castro and AccuSplit chip timing company. I am looking forward to crewing for Dad. He has trained many many hours and I cannot wait to see his dedication pay off. I am glad I get to be a part of his race.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Big Dog 200K

Weekly miles: 304.5
Tuesday: 30 hard with group (running from Chad) Windy
Wednesday: 40 Endurance pace Windy
Thursday: 58 med with Mike, Wiford and Bill H
Friday: 30 easy Windy
Saturday: 126 Brevet 7:04 19.4 on bike avg
Sunday: 20.5 with Connie recovery Windy

The last two weeks had been pretty un-eventful until Saturday's 200K brevet in Le Claire. Chad joined Wiford and I for the ride. Chad had never ridden more then 115 but wanted to test his pain threshold. Lonnie Cook was also present wanting to put his early season fitness to the test.

A Brevet is not a race. They are very popular in Europe. It is an un-supported ride that requires getting your brevet card signed at the beginning, the end and designated spots along the route to verify you have completed the route. The check-in places (or controls) are usually located at convenience stores.

15 riders stared this group ride from Le Claire with the route heading to Bellevue and back. Much of the route was TOMRV roads that I had ridden many times. There is not many flat stretches but only a couple killer hills. We haeded out of Le Claire as a group but soon broke up after a big climb at the 3 mile mark. Chad, Wiford, Larry Ide, Dennis Grelk, a Cedar Falls rider and myself formed the "front" group. 10 miles later the Cedar Falls rider dropped back and after 40 Larry fell behind on the rolling hills. The four of us rolled into Bellevue pretty close together after 3:36 total time fighting head/cross winds with an avg of 18.7 mph.

After Lunch the four of us headed out as the second group of 8 rolled into the stop. Lonnie was with them and they had picked up Larry. For the next 20 miles they had to slow up for me at the top of the bigger climbs. I did not eat enough on the way up and was paying for it in the hills.

Chad, Wiford and I slowly pulled ahead of Dennis as we left Mcausland for the final 15 miles. The three of us rolled into town together with a total time of 7:04, with a 19.4 avg on the bike, followed by Dennis at 7:18 and then the second group (including Lonnie) at 7:41.

I was hoping there would be more riders to form the front group. I ride with Chad and Wiford all the time. I guess we could have waited for the second group but on a long ride the sooner you can get off the saddle the better. I wanted to push myself a little to see what pace I could handle for that long of a ride. I had to push a little harder then I wanted on the climbs but recovered pretty well on the flats. I drank plenty and did not cramp at all. I forgot my hammer gel flask and I could have used it on several occasions.

Next week I will be in Lubbock from Wednesday until Sunday so maybe I can get some warm weather riding.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Caleb is 17 years old.
Caleb is a Junior in High School at Muscatine High School. He spent his entire Spring Break this year in Quetzeltenango Guatemala. This was a Missions Trip with Calvary Church in Muscatine. The team spent many hours sanding desks for a couple of schools in the City so the schools could salvage the desks. Our high school kids also spent time playing with the children of the school. Caleb enjoys being around kids and has been very active throughout his high school years volunteering with the Kids Zone program every weekend at Church. His passion for children is incredible.

Caleb's next "training trip" is to Liberia May 14-22 as part of a missions trip. He once again gets to hang out with kids and help out at a school that our church supports. Watch for updates and photos the end of May.

Caleb brings lots of enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to the team. He looks forward to "crewing for Dad" and claims he will be a great "Pumper and Filler" (pumping up tires and filling water bottles). I'm sure he will also have a crack at updating the web site for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The miles start to increase

After a week of being out of town it was time to start racking up the miles. March and April are supposed to be my build phase of the training so I need to ramp up the miles. Then really pound them out in May.

Monday: 57 miles with some long intervals at slow RPM's 69 degrees
Wednesday: 68 miles at an endurance pace
Thursday: 73 mile group ride at tempo pace
Friday: 33 miles easy
Saturday: 40 miles at endurance pace 35 degrees
Sunday: 60 miles group ride at tempo
Total: 331

Saturday I needed to do more intervals but with the temperature 35, cloudy, damp and windy I did not feel like getting hot and sweaty. It was all I could do to get out of the house and ride. The only good thing was that it was not snowing when I rode.

After riding Sunday my legs were a little tired. Re-evaluate my training I realize that I need to back off my miles during the week and focus on a really long ride on the weekend. Still trying to stay around 300 miles a week. All I am getting out of 50-60 miles each day is tired legs. I need to be able to ride 100 comfortably and build that up through May.

On April 11th the Big Dogs are doing a 200K from LeClaire. The route goes up to Bellevue and back so it will include many climbs. This will be a good test to see where the fitness it at this time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 28 - Riding in Iowa!

Saturday morning - 40 mile ride in am before the snow fell.
Winds were out of the northwest at 20-25 mph.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Update from the Crew

I was a bit 'freaked' when I heard Joe say on Sunday that it is only 13 weeks until the race. Can't even begin to imagine how he must feel since he is the one that is going to do all the pedaling! Ugh. There are many, many details that we are working on. I did get our "Crew" shirts ordered last week. With our shirts, hopefully we can look like a 'team'. Our shirts should arrive in 2-3 weeks.

Also, it is amazing what we need to do to get the support vehicles ready. Slow-moving vehicle signs (magnetic) for the support vehicles were ordered, as well as, the Caution Bicycle Ahead sign. Eric Furnas is working on the wheel rack for the top of the van. It will have yellow flashing lights. We are hoping to also have a speaker system so the crew will be able to talk to Joe from the van.

We are trying to come up with a date that the entire support crew (Chris, Caleb, Eric, and myself) will be available to practice support into the night with Joe. I think we are shooting for May 16. Not sure who will be available yet, but that is the weekend that Joe needs to get a 200-300 mile ride and will need a support crew. We will probably schedule another night during the week, that way we can do support a couple of hours in the dark to figure out what we are doing. Three of the four of us have done support before but not following behind all night.

I have made reservations at hotels during the race to give us a chance to get a few hours of sleep each night. It's important that the crew stays alert during the race. We will have two crews / two vehicles to rotate our support. Joe doesn't plan on sleeping the first night but will plan to sleep a few hours in Flagstaff, Arizona the second night and then a few hours in Durango, Colorado.

The pie-making has slowed down. I have made over 70 pies thus far. Thanks to all of you who have purchased pies or donated for this event! We will probably make another push for pie sales as Easter will be fast approaching.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The weather makes the headlines

As I write this I am sitting in Binghamton, New York (South Central) at the Best Western. The riding around here would be great if I had my bike and the weather was a little nicer. There are long gradual climbs with many bike lanes. All you guys back home enjoy the 70 degrees. Welcome back Wiford and thanks for bringing the weather.

This week saw all kinds of weather but there was more good then bad. I was able to get a century in Saturday and ride with Connie and Chris on Sunday on the Bike club's St. Patrick's day ride.

Monday: 58 mile tempo ride with rain the last 15
Tuesday: 42 miles 3 nine minute intervals at lactic threshold before Tuesday night ride. Windy and cold.
Thursday: 30 miles easy
Friday: 35 miles, 3 ten minute intervals at lactic threshold
Saturday: 100 miles easy/med
Sunday: 65 miles Med/hard then easy finish with bike club
Total: 330 miles

This week the intervals got longer. The second interval was done at slow RPM's into the wind to simulate a long hill climb. This is the only way to get ready for the long climbs in Iowa. On the really windy days I think it is mentally harder to ride into the wind at a slow cadence sitting upright as the wind beats you up.

Tuesday's ride was a weather nightmare. It started with temperatures in the low 60's when I got off work at 3:00. By the time I got to the shop for the Tuesday night ride it was 56. I did a one hour pre-ride and got back to the shop and it was 48. Chad, Greg and I rode 24 miles and when we got back it was 38 at 7:00 with 30-40 mph winds. At least it was not raining/snowing.

My century on Saturday was nice. The weather was in the low 50's with very little wind. I rode the first 30 easy by myself to Mike Doyle's house, we then rode 25 miles back to my house to meet my son Chris and Jon Sulzberger to do a loop out to Durant and back for another 36 miles. When I got back home I needed a little 9 mile loop into town for 100. I did not eat or drink enough on this ride even though the pace was pretty easy I was dragging about the 80 mile mark. I really need to focus on that part of the training rides.

Sunday there was a 11:00 group ride from Greg's house before the 1:00 St. Patrick's Day ride. The 11:00 group was mainly the same characters that show up for the Tuesday night ride. The pace was very controlled on the way out and then got a little spirited on the way back until Chad, Wiford and Bill Harper turned into the hills. At this point Greg, Mike, Jon and I just cruised into town. The St. Patrick's Day ride had 25 riders. It was a nice social group ride for the first 11 miles then there was a split and the pace got pretty quick until we all re-grouped as we got near town. Chris and Connie both rode and it is always nice to ride with them. Both of them have not ridden outside much this year but were both riding really well.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring is gettting closer

At least there were three nice days this week. It kind of spoils you and you want the nice weather all the time. I have to keep remembering that is is not even the middle of March.

Workouts for the week:
Tuesday: 22 miles, 7 min intervals at 275 watts 175 bpm with 5 minute rest repeated 3times on indoor trainer
Wednesday: Tempo ride to New Boston 150-160 bpm
Thursday: 50 mile back and out to Bennett. Headwind back and tailwind with Eric and Connie back. I had driven the van up so they had a tailwind ride.
Friday: 41 miles easy at 140 bpm to West Liberty and back. Rode in aero bars to whole ride
Sunday: 34 miles of hills on indoor trainer.

Thursday was a great day. The forecast was for strong winds out of the south. After work I left home and drove north to Bennett. The plan was to ride back to Muscatine into the wind and meet Eric and Connie for the second half of the ride with the wind. As I neared Muscatine the wind started to die down. What was 28 MPH gusts turned into 10 MPH. At least it was still near 70 degrees as we headed north at 5:00. It was getting pretty dark as we rode into Bennett at 6:15 so I was glad I had my flasher and reflective vest. The temps had also dropped to 56. We were all dressed for 70 so we got a little chilled. Connie had brought along some money so we grabbed a snack at the C-store before driving home.

I had hope to get a century in Saturday or Sunday but the weather did not cooperate. I don't mind getting caught in the rain but starting out in the rain is not for me. Next weekend looks promising for a long ride before I am off to New York for the week.

As I was looking at the web sites of the RAAM riders I stumble across the web site for Dave Goggins. He is a Navy Seal that competes in ultra-runs and has signed up for RAAM as another way to see how far he can push himself. His story will motivate you to push yourself beyond what you thought possible. Check him out at

Monday, March 2, 2009

Now it is Time To Get Serious

We finally decided on a team name. Mann Powered. The official RAAM media guide will have us listed under that name. The solos don't have to have a team name but we thought it would be more fun to have one. Connie is finishing up on the shirt design. On the back will list some of the stats from the ride and the RAW slogan "this ain't no tour" which I think is a great slogan.

Above is the profile to the first time station(TS1)of the race. You can see why they say "this ain't no tour". I have to go through 18 Time stations all together. They vary in length from 54 miles to 88 miles. The distance to the first TS is 54 miles with over 6000 feet of climbing. If you push too hard up these first climbs it will make for a long three and half days.

With less than four months until the race the serious training needs to start. For the next 10-12 weeks the intensity is going to increase along with the miles. Each week will consist of two days of long interval workouts plus 1 or 2 hill climbing work outs. The weekends will consist of at least one long ride. In addition each month I need to complete a 200+ mile ride with a couple of 300 plus mile days in May. The 200 mile, 11,000 feet of climbing Balltown Classic on May 30th will be my last training ride.

Last week the legs finally started coming back. Mike and I rode 50 on Tuesday at a nice social pace and then Bill Ford joined us on Wednesday for another 50 mile ride this time at a quicker pace. The weather was great but my legs were a little cooked by the time I got home on Wednesday. Sunday I ventured out by myself for five repeats of Funk's hill. It wasn't too bad of a day to be outside riding, unless you are a indoor obsessed roller junkie, (no offense).

The pie sales are moving right along. Last night she baked pie number 70. A big thanks to all who have purchased pies. She has made many different kinds of pies so far and it is not too late to place your order. At $13 it is a great price. If you are intersested e-mail Connie as