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.