Saturday, September 17, 2011













I have completed 23 RAGBRAI’s and 2 PBP’s.  My wife has done 20 RAGBRAI’s and supported me on both my PBP rides. This is our brainstorming of a few ways that PBP is like and not like RAGBRAI.

PBP is like a longer version of RAGBRAI. Some of the similarities include: You are in rural areas passing through friendly little towns with residents standing by the road cheering as you ride by sometimes handing out free food and water. The ride is divided into smaller sections, PBP calls them controls, of 50-60 miles with the towns providing entertainment, and refreshments as well as a place for support vehicles to meet their rider. Bike shops are set up along the way to provide roadside assistance. Some of the major intersections are patrolled for traffic. There are great bake goods along the route to satisfy your sweet tooth. Some of the route is flat and some is hilly all though there are more hilly sections. It takes many volunteers to ensure the rides success. It will probably rain at some point during the ride. The rolling back country roads are lined with corn fields. If you have to use the bathroom there is probably a line although the corn fields provide ample stall space. You see all different types of bikes and riders of all shapes and ages. Most of the roads are in pretty good shape but on occasions you can get a really nasty section. There are racers, recreational riders and tourist. Both rides cost about $120 to enter. Sleeping arrangements can be rather crowded. There are plenty of rides to talk to as you ride down the road. Arrows are posted at intersections to guide you along the route. As the ride approaches the end there are a lot of riders who aren’t sitting on the saddle quite a comfortable as they were at the beginning.

The list of ways that PBP is not like RAGBRAI: There is a time limit to make it to each control or your ride is over. PBP is one and a half the distance of RAGBRAI half the number of days. RAGBRAI riding time is 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Riding in the dark at PBP is almost mandatory to finish in the allotted, time but you must have the proper lights and reflective gear. PBP is out and back so no bus ride is involved. If you can’t finish the ride PBP does not provide a sag wagon, you are on your own to find a ride back. For PBP there might be plenty of riders to talk to but you have to find a rider that speaks you language. In France some of the signs are a little hard to read. RAGBRAI takes a different route each year but the PBP route is basically the same every time. The country of France has fields of sunflowers along the route, although by August they don’t look as good as when the Tour-de-France goes by in July.

Friday, July 8, 2011


On June 4th Mike Doyle and I made the journey, once again, to Eldridge Iowa to participate in the Ultra Midwest (Big Dog’s) 600 K brevet.  I needed to complete this last brevet in the 4 ride series to be eligible for Paris-Brest-Paris.  Mike was riding for the challenge to see how far he could push himself.

The time cut-off for a 600K is around 40 hours but our plan was to ride straight through the night. I have successfully complete two previous 600K’s, six 24 hour rides, a 33 hour ride and a 35 hour ride.  Mike had never ridden more the 12 hours and with a projected 24-26 hour finishing time this would take Mike into un-known areas of cycling.  I have been riding with Mike for many years and I had not doubt that he would be physically up to the task but all ultra-distance riders know the physical challenge of a 600K is not the hardest part.  A ride of this length is mentally challenging as you ride through the sleepy hours of the night knowing you have many miles to go before you can get off the bike.

300 K  2011

Five other riders that started had the same game plan to ride through the night.  The group consisted of the same riders Mike and I rode with on the 200 and 300K as pictured above with the exception of the rider on the right Matt Levy.  Left to right Mike Doyle,Jim Yost, Larry Ide, Joe Mann, Jay Yost, Paul Carpenter, Doug McLerran.

The forecast for the day was light winds out of the south-west switching to west then north-west as evening approached and temperatures in the 90’s with over-night lows in the upper 60’s. With a route that headed southwest before the turn around the wind was going to be a factor during the ride.  I do not like riding in that kind of heat so getting through the middle of the day was also going to be quite the challenge.


  Control stops to get our brevet cards signed were Bennett, Wilton, Nichols, Morning Sun, West Point, Keosauqua the Bloomfield.  It would have been neat to drop down to Missouri.










As we headed west-ward we had a little wind in our face but the group worked together to negate the effects and we pushed through the first 62 miles to Nichols with no problems.  With the wind more west and the temperatures approaching 90 the leg to the south proved to be a little more challenging. We kept the pace a little slower to make sure everybody stayed together.  We took an un-scheduled break in New London to cool off as the temperature was in the upper 90’s.  At the 100 mile mark my bike computer showed 100 degrees.  We still had many miles to go so it is better to spend a little time now to have the energy to make it through the next 18 hours.  With about 5 miles to go before our southern section ended the wind switch to the west-north-west.  It was the first, and last tail wind we would have for this ride.

While we were in New London Joe Jamison caught up with us in his van.  He is the organizer of the brevet series and many other rides promoted by the Big Dog’s.  Joe has been on two RAAM crews and been participating in ultra-cycling events for many years so he knows, first hand, what it takes to complete rides of this length.  The only outside support you can received during a brevet is at the control points and Joe’s plan was to meet us at the controls through the night to make sure we had food and drink and sign our cards. This route had no 24 hour convenience stores so between 11 pm and 6 am there would be no place to replenish supplies.  He also would provide a “safety net” if something happened and one of us could not continue.

Leaving West Point, heading into the wind, Mike and I got a little gap on the rest of the group and continued on our own for the next 30 miles. At the 140 mile mark the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped and the wind quit as it started to rain.  Boy did the rain feel nice after being baked for the last 3 hours.  Mike and I rolled along enjoying the cool weather and the scenery of the Bonaparte, Bentonsport area.  We rode through this area on RAGBRAI several years back and I remember the nice river valley but also some big climbs.  This would prove to be the hilliest section of the otherwise flat route.

As we headed into Keosauqua Joe was on the side of the rode and told us there was a severe storm warning for the next 30 minutes and we needed to wait it out in town.  The longer then scheduled break at a nice c-store gave us time to have a nice meal and allowed Jay, Paul and Larry a chance to catch up.  Jim and Doug were a little further back and rolled into town as we rolled out after a 45 minute break.  This was our longest break of the day and Mike’s favorite and my least favorite.  Only 30 miles until the turn around and it looked like Keosauqua would be the last re-fuel stop before the night.

Larry Ide on 600KAs the darkness rolled in the winds had quit and were not going to be a factor for the rest of the day/night back to Eldridge.  Doug re-joined us before dark but Jim was still back about an hour at the turn around.  We stocked up supplies for the long night of closed stores.  Larry purchased six 20 ounce Cokes.  One to drink, three for his pockets and two for the bottle cages.  To the left is a great picture. The overnight temperatures were mild in the upper 60’s but the humidity was very high.  It was foggy in some areas and the due dripped off your arms and helmet all night long.  The six of us rolled back to a closed up West Point at 11:00. Joe Jamison met us to sign our cards and offer us food and drink.  He mentioned that Jim was back about 60 minutes but was still moving along.  Joe said he was going to keep an eye on him and we might not see him a the next couple stops.  I had plenty of food and drink so was not too concerned.

Our next stop was Morning Sun.  Between West Point and Morning Sun a car pulled up next to us and asked if we needed a ride.  We of course said no and they informed us that it was dangerous to be out this late because there could be drunks on the road.  Somebody said something to the effect that we would be OK.  I guess the driver and passenger thought this was a smart aleck response as they roared ahead of us then slammed on their brakes in the middle of the road.  We split to go cautiously around the car as I took the shoulder.  Larry stopped to talk to them and discovered they were not happy that they would have to go around us when there could be a car coming the other way.  I think they were the drunks they were warning us about.  It really turned into a non-incident but gave us something to talk about and woke us up a little.  Joe was not in Morning Sun as we stopped at the closed Casey’s for a break.  Nichols was our next control point.

Before Nichols we had to go through Columbus Junction.  I knew there was pop machines at the grocery store that we could stop and buy pop or water to get us to Nichols.  If Joe did not meet us in Nichols then Wilton would be the next chance for an open store.  The pop machines were like an oasis during the night.  Many bottles of water and cans or pop were purchased before we continued our journey north to Nichols.

0605110909aArriving in Nichols we still did not see Joe.  We once again stopped at the Casey’s store to consume any food we were carrying. To any vehicle passing by it must have looked strange to see six cyclist, with red light flashing, sitting in front of a closed Casey’s store at 4:30 in the morning as the sun was coming up.  Joe showed up 15 minutes after we did with Jim sitting in the van with him.  It looked like he had decided to call it quits.  As he got out of the van we asked how he was and what caused him to call it quits and he calmly said he got hit by a car.  North of West Point a driver was answering a text message and ran into the back of him.  Luckily Jim was OK but his rear wheel was crushed and his ride was over.  Joe leap frogging and keeping an eye on us throughout the day proved really lucky otherwise I am not sure how Jim would have gotten back to Eldridge 120 miles away.  He lives in the Champaign Illinois area so calling home for a ride would have been a long wait.  This incident really makes you think about being out on the road with no support.  Last year when I did the 600K I was 230 miles from home at the turn around.  That “thrill” is what I like about unsupported rides. 

600K brevet ComputerThe Casey’s in Wilton was open as we rolled into town shortly after 6:00 am with lightning flashing off to the south.  Luckily it stayed to the south and we had smooth sailing all the way through Bennett and into Eldridge for a 8:43 finish for a total time of 26:43 with 22:15 riding time. Way to much time off the bike.  Mike will tell you we did not take long enough breaks.

Food and drink for 378 miles: 3 servings Perpetuam, 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken wrap, piece of cheese pizza, Payday bar, Snickers, 2 orange Sobe's, Scotch-a-roo (Rice Krispie treat with peanut butter and Chocolate frosting), 3 chicken tenders, chocolate milk, 6 Fig Newton’s, Little Debbie Creme pie, cheese stick, ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, homemade apple pastry, hammer gel, ensure and only one 12oz Mt. Dew. Also a ton of water.

Larry’s diet is always interesting and quite a contrast to mine.  It just shows that diet for ultra events is very individual:  4 donuts, 2 beef jerky, 2 pieces pizza, 2 paydays, Ice cream nutty cone, Rice Krispy with chocolate on top, ham and cheese sub, few more donuts, 3 cans dew, four 24-oz cokes, around fifteen 20 ounce cokes, two 20 ounce orange juice, 2 twelve ounce kiwi-strawberry drinks and 1/2 bottle water. Other half went on head.

Friday, June 10, 2011

400K Brevet

I had to drive to Waterloo Iowa to complete the 400K Brevet. This was the third qualifier in the 4 ride series that are required to ride Paris-Brest-Paris in August. My goal for this ride was to complete it in under 15 hours. That allows for a 18MPH average on the bike and 5 minutes off the bike each hour.

When I arrived there were not many cars in the parking lot that had roof racks or trunk racks attached. There was a Team Bacchatta van with four recumbents leaned against it but I saw no other traditions bikes. Not a good sign. Rain was in the forecast for the morning with sunshine in the afternoon. The wind was to be south east at 10-15 switching to south as the day progressed. The route was an out and back to the north east. Not quite ideal conditions.

As we departed I was the only ride doing the 400K. The recumbents were doing the 200K route before heading home to Florida. I had ridden with one of the riders at Sebring and Metamora in 2009 and knew he was pretty strong. At least I would have some help for the first 60 miles.

The route starts pretty flat as you head through Olwein but nearing Volga the hills start. Not a lot of hills just really long ones. It seems like every town is at the bottom of a hill. As you start the long decent into town you know there will be a long accent leaving town. This always motivates me to limit my stopping so you don't hit the hills with stiff legs. Before the first big uphill outside of Volga I was on my own and it was going to be that way for the next 11-12 hours.

I don't mind riding by myself. I have found that on long rides it is better to go the pace that feels comfortable at the moment. During a long ride you will have ups and downs and if you ride with someone the odds of you both having the same good moments it slim. The results are rider A slowing for rider B then later rider B is slowing for rider A. This is not a problem if you are not in a hurry but I rarely find myself riding without a time goal in mind so I always seem to be in a hurry. Which is not necessarily a good thing. I also don't like to stop for extended breaks. A three to five minute break is all I need. Just enough time to top off water and grab something to eat. Usually whatever I grab gets consumed on the road.

With temperatures in the mid sixties, a nice tailwind, the off and on rain was not chilly enough to need a rain coat so I pushed on towards to turn around in Desoto, WI. Besides, stopping to put on the rain coat, then stop again to take it back off when I got too hot would slow down my pace. I was trying to bank as much time as I could before I had to turn around back into the wind.

After studying the profile map I was looking forward to the 500 foot decent to the Mississippi into Lansing at the 100 mile mark. Not really looking forward to the climb back up after the turnaround but this look to be one of the longer hills I have ever seen in Iowa. Fortunately the hill was every bit that it promised to be on paper. There was not any really steep sections just long and snaking as you got closer to the river.

This was my first visit to the river town of Lansing. My first thought was why hasn't RAGBRAI ever ended here? As I rolled thought this small town I could see why it was not a viable option for 10-15 thousand visitors in one day. The town was pretty small and there was limited access from major roads.

Crossing the bridge turned into an adventure. The Lansing bridge has a steel grated deck like the Mississippi bridge between Sabula, Ia and Savannah, Il. The same bridge that is used each year on TOMRV. I have ridden across that bridge at least 15 times with no problems and was not anticipating any problems with this bridge. As I turned on the bridge and started the slight rise me back wheel spun on the wet decking and my heart jumped. The rest of the ride across the bridge was taken at 10 mph and very cautiously. Especially on the last part that was a downward grade.

After the bridge only 5 miles to Desoto and the turn around. Since I had taken a longer break (10 minutes) in Monona 30 miles before the turnaround the plan was for a quick stop (3 minutes) in DeSoto and then back to Monona for another 10 minute break. I made the turn in less then seven hours so I was over 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Basically right where I wanted to be.

The rainy climb out of the river valley took 12 minutes to complete. The only other Iowa climb I have ridden that rivals this one is the TOMVR climb as you leave the Mines of Spain south of Dubuque on Sunday morning. At least the grade is not too steep and you can get into a rhythm. After the climb the sun came out for the remainder of the ride.

I pushed it through the check points and was able to keep 15-20 minutes ahead of the pace I wanted for the rest of the ride back to Waterloo. I arrived at the finish at 8:43 PM just as it was getting dark for a total time of 14:43. 14 hours of riding and 43 minutes of stopping. The 600K on June 4th will be a little more relaxed with more riders and some longer breaks so I was glad to have an opportunity to push myself through out the ride and was happy with my fitness at this time of the season.

The Trailer for "300 Miles of Gravel"

300 Miles of Gravel Trailer from Jeff Frings Photography on Vimeo.

Monday, May 9, 2011

400K Brevet Up next

Since I was riding Trans Iowa at the time of the Big Dog's 400K brevet I will have to make the journey to Waterloo and complete the required brevet in the PBP series on May 21st. The timing works out well by giving me a little break after the 200 and 300K back to back weekends and then the Trans Iowa ride.

I am not looking forward to the extra hour of driving each way. The more challenging terrain and roads I have not ridden will be a nice mental boost and should make for an enjoyable adventure. The route goes to De Soto Wisconsin and back and has over 15, 000 of climbing. I would like to complete this ride in 16 hours but the weather will play a big role. The profile looks scary so we will see how I handle the hills.

Since Trans Iowa I have taken a couple weeks off and cut back the miles as a mini-recovery phase. The time off has given me a chance to work in some family commitments as well as work on my yard. Starting this week it is back to normal as I prepare for the Paris-Brest-Paris later in the summer. Last year I was riding well in May and then tapered off in June and July but this year I want to continue to build on the early season fitness level.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Trans Iowa 7 report

After months of focused training, weeks of optimistically watching the weather forecast, days of frantic packing/repacking and tweaking the bike set-up, and hours of restless sleep, the time arrived for my second attempt at the epic race known as Trans Iowa. This time I had a better understanding of what I had gotten myself into but was still apprehensive about how the next 30+ hours would unfold. My goal was to finish, have a great time, push my self to the limit, lean on my faith in tough times and create some memories to last a lifetime. Mission accomplished!

The organizers strongly encourage you have a bail out plan. This would be someone staying in the start and finishing town of Grinnell that could be called to pick you up in case of a mechanical, physical or mental break down during the event. This race is not supported in any way. If you don’t have a bailout plan you are on your own. I was flying without a net because quitting was not an option. Last year I headed back to Grinnell on 40 miles of pavement knowing I would not make the next checkpoint. If I would have kept riding they would have stopped me 30 miles later and I would have been a finisher instead of a quitter. That was not going to happen this year. I was not stopping until I reach the finish line or somebody pulled me off the bike. My plan was that each time I wanted to quit I would say a quick prayer asking for the strength to continue. There would be times I was “tossing them up” quite regularly.

TransIowaV7_startThe race starts at 4:00 am and is located 3 miles from the hotel I was staying in. At 3:30 I rolled out of the hotel towards the start. It was 45 degrees, nice breeze out of the south and foggy. Almost a repeat of last years except there was no rain in the forecast. Temperatures were forecasted to be mid to upper 50’s, sunny and breezy out of the west. The night before we received the cue sheets to the first checkpoint 53 miles into the race in the town of Baxter. We would be going into the wind right away.

The opening pace over the slimy roads was controlled for the first hour and I was not having any problems hanging on. My plan was to stick with the lead group as long as I could and build a time cushion for cut-offs. I did not want to blowup so I would have to keep the ego in check and make sure I knew when to let them go. I had no aspirations of competing in this event just completing. Our first mud road came at the 12.5 mile mark. There was some navigation confusion already because the cue sheet said we had a left turn at mile 13 on 110th street and the intersection was 108th street. The group consensus was to continue on the mud road looking for 110th. This mile long mud road was not rideable so walking in the ditch was the only option. This would have made a really neat video with 40-50 red lights, single file, snaking through the pre-dawn darkness in the middle of no where. Looking the other directions would have shown the line of head lights. Once off mud we continued for about a mile before realizing we should have turned left BEFORE the mud road. 30 minutes of lost time. By the time we got back to the mud road the last riders we just finishing the section. Like lemmings everybody followed the leader. This would be costly for the over 30 riders not making the first time cut-off at 9:15.

TI hills30 miles into the race as the steepness of the hills increased along with the headwind I found myself drifting off the back. At this point I settled into a comfortable pace and was ready to be on my own for the rest of the ride if needed. A few miles later I was passed by Eric Brundt. We were soon joined by a few other riders including Jeremy Fry of Cedar Falls. Jeremy and I played leap frog last year during TI, rode last years moonlight madness ride in Iowa City, and completed a 200K together this year and last. I knew we were pretty even in strength so we would prove to be great riding partners for the next 30 hours. Our little group rolled into the first checkpoint in Baxter with 45 minutes to spare.

On long rides I like to minimize stopping by running through my stopping strategy in my head before I get there. I compare it to a pit stop in Nascar. Anybody that has ridden with me knows I am a splash-and-dash guy. My chain was screaming under pressure and skipping in most gears so working on the drive train was the first priority. We knew the next checkpoint was 120 miles away with the town of Norway noted on our cue sheets 115 miles away. I had plenty of food so water and bathroom break were the second priority. I filled up a the grocery store and was ready to go. Eight of us rolled out together for the next section of this great adventure. The race was now a ride. The wind was at our back, the roads were dry, the sun was shining, we had a nice group, so this was going to be a great section.

The second section had the most level B roads of the event. There was a stretch of road that it felt like every other mile was mud. The first couple were rideable then the mud just keep getting worse. At least they were flat and had good ditches for walking. As I walked I was able to eat a little and give my butt a break. One of the last mud section had a pretty flat ditch with tall grass and I was debating whether to try riding in the grass instead of walking. Just then a couple riders from a different group passed us riding in the grass. They were moving a little faster then us but it was rough going and they seemed to be using quite a bit of energy to keep moving. Before they reached the end of the mud road they had pulled over and we were overtaking them again. As we passed them we noticed that one of them had ripped his derailleur off his bike. The tall grass had gotten tangle in the chain and just pulled it right out of the hanger bracket. They were all going to call it quits and said they would be drinking beer before us. After that the walk or ride decision was easy. I seemed to be the slowest of our group on the mud sections. I had the widest tires and the least amount of mud clearance. I have a head light bracket mounted with the front brake that sits pretty close to the tire as well. It did not take much mud to force me to get out my tire lever and dig the mud away from the brake so I could continue pushing the bike. If there was no place to walk you had to carry your bike and with the mud plus the rack on the back full of clothing and food it was not the lightest.


Before the second checkpoint we hit two convenience stores. When I say we “hit” them that is what I mean. It was like piranha's and a feeding frenzy. Pizza slices, sandwich wraps, sub sandwiches, Gatorade, candy bars, cookies were flying off the shelves. Riders were eating plus stocking up. The store clerks are probably still telling stories about the starving, mud splattered, riders that overtook the store. At the Norway store I thought I would take care of some thing on the bike and give the line at the check out time to go down. Bad idea as all the real food, pizza and sandwiches, were gone and I was stuck with a Rice Krispy treat.

The eight of us arrived at the second check point as the sun was setting. It was 8:15 and we made the cutoff by 1:45. We were only halfway done with what had already been a really long day. Thoughts of how was I going to be able to ride for another 16 hours staring creeping into my head. The mind was now battling the flesh. The flesh says this is way too hard and you should quit. The mind says you knew this was going to be hard but this is what you want to do. This was the first of many me vs. me battles that would take place in the next 16 hours.

The hours before sunset our plan for our little group was to stay together and have numbers on our side through the night. With extra eyes to check for turns and review cue sheets this seemed like a pretty good strategy. The only draw back to that strategy is there are more stops and each stop takes longer. By midnight we had only covered 27 miles in the last four hours. We did have a really nasty mud road that provided little places to walk and two flat tires but still our forward progress was slow at best.

The darkness provided some interesting sections of road. The first was a bridge that was out. This was a wooden blanked bridge that was missing about three feet of planking on each end of the bridge. Once the road closed signs were successfully navigated you had to carry your bike and tight rope the 3” wide beam to cross the three foot gap. This process was repeated at the opposite end. The second “adventure” was a left on 78th street. A half mile before 78th St. was 78th St. Dr. We did not notice the “DR” on the sign so we turned left. The road was a level “C” road. These roads are gated and the farmers have taken them over. We were able to walk in the field next to the road and once at the other end realized we had made the wrong turn. There were enough mud roads on this course but now we had added two extras. Unfortunately for me there would be one more before I hit Grinnell.

The killing of the Easter Bunny at 11:00 PM by an owl, a 1:30 AM stop in Belle Plaine for water at the bar and a 4:00 AM discussion on whether to head towards a sign that looked like a Kum-n-Go a couple miles off the route were the only other eventful things that happened prior to the sun coming up at 6:00 AM. That is if you don’t count the endless hills and a few more missed turns as eventful.

We were headed towards a water tower as the sun was rising. As we got closer the words North English could be made out. Three of our group of eight had gotten a little gap on us and did not realize the gold mine that was in North English. A Casey’s store and they opened at 6:00 AM. Jeremy, Charlie, Jonathan, Mike and I took the opportunity for a breakfast stop and re-fuel before the final 65 mile push to Grinnell.

The hills continued to be relentless but the road surface was dry, fast, hard packed clay. If we had gotten any rain during the race this section would have been a nightmare. At one point someone looked back and noticed there were riders approaching in the distance. Jonathan picked it up a notch and I went with him. We thought we would keep the pace up to try to hold off the upcoming riders. We moved along pretty quickly for 4-5 miles on 100th St. Looking for a left on 500th Ave. We passed 520th, then 510th then took the next left for one mile before making a right on 90th street. Reaching 90th street we saw a road closed sign and the behind it the worst level B road you could imagine. They were in the process of digging the mud out of the ditches and building up the road. That meant there were no ditches to walk in. We looked for a re-route flag but did not see one. We checked to make sure this was 90th street and it was. Not 90th Dr. or Ave. just plain 90th street. Onward we pushed. We had to cross a little ravine and then over a barbed wire fence to get to a field to parallel the road. One mile later we were back on gravel. Up ahead we saw riders that had passed us by going around this road. That wasn’t fair we had to go on the road how come they didn’t. We found out later we turned on 505th St a half a mile too early.

Just down the road we stumble upon Jeremy and Charlie fixing Charlie's flat rear tire. Jonathan had the only tire lever that was able to get the tire off back on with out breaking so it was a good thing we took our detour or I am not sure they would have gotten the flat fixed. After the repair Jonathan pushed ahead and Jeremy, Charlie and I rode in together. It was demoralizing to see the hotel my van was park by and still have 10 miles until the finish. There were a few hills around Grinnell we did not hit on the way out of town and they wanted to make sure and include them before we finished. Left to right Charlie, Jeremy and me.

TransIowaV7 finish

Finishing did not have the emotion I thought it would. I am not sure if I was just too tired or maybe it was because I was trying to hurry to make it home before my youngest Caleb headed back to college after the weekend at home. I only stuck around a couple minutes before riding the three miles back to the hotel. There was a pit stop on the way to the hotel at Taco Bell for some lunch. Before the tough drive home.

People seem to be amazed/impressed that I accomplished this feat. I am just a average guy who likes to ride my bike. I am not a super gifted athlete and never have been but I have chosen to use the talent God gave me to the fullest. Long distance cycling gives me a chance for solitude and an opportunity to enjoy His creation. When viewing a gorgeous sunrise, a picturesque sunset or climbing to the top of a hill overlooking a sundrenched valley it is easy to see there is a creator and all this is not by chance. On your next ride take a look around and you will know what I mean.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trans Iowa V7 off the Bucket List

I am not in this picture but thought it showed how the riders looked early on in the race.

Well this time the weather did not kick my butt. The endless rolling Iowa hills and the too numerous to count mud roads did but I kicked it right back and in the end I came out on top. As a note to self I will not be giving TI the chance to break the tie.

Just a quick update then I will post pictures and the whole story later this week.

I tossed and turned all night stressing about every little thing from food, hydration, clothing, the bike you name it popped into my head. You know you are over stressed when you try to think about work just to calm you down. The race started pretty controlled as I rolled along with the lead group of about 40. The gravel was soupy from Friday's rain so the gravel slime was flying. No sense in wearing glasses. After just a few miles you could not find a clean area on your gloves or shirt to wipe the grit out of your eyes. Stayed with the group for 30 miles when the tempo up the hills started to catch up with me. Backed it off and rode with a couple other guys to check point 1, after 53 miles, at around 8:30 am with 45 minutes to spare. 8 of us rolled out together and stay as a group to the next check point at 8:15 pm after 177 miles total miles, 1:45 ahead of the cut-off. After that the speed dropped and it would take over 17 hours to cover the next 150 miles of the course. The nasty mud roads really slow you down. Three riders pushed on while 5 of us from the group stopped for breakfast at 6:00 am at the Casey's in North English and then the push to Grinnell for a 1:25 pm finish. 14th of the 18 finishers with a total time of 33:25.
The route went from Grinnell, Baxter, Montour, Treir, Dysert, Norway, Belle Plain, North English, Banes City and then Grinnell. Click here to view the map. There were a few other little towns along the way that I did not see the name and they were so small if you blinked you missed them, even on a bike. Go to for updates and some audio feeds from the race.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Trans Iowa Revenge

Tomorrow I will be getting up at 3:00 am to head for the 4:00 am start of the Trans Iowa 7. For those unaware of this event it is a 320ish mile gravel and dirt road race in central Iowa starting and ending in Grinnell. The rest of the route will not be revealed until Friday night and then they only reveal the first 53 miles to check point number 1. If you arrive by the cut-off time you get the cue sheets to the next checkpoint at mile 177. Arriving at the second check point by the cut-off time gets you the cue sheets for the rest of the route. The overall time cut-off is 34 hours. If at anytime you decide to quit you are on your own to find a ride back to Grinnell.

This has to be one of the harder races in the Midwest. If the miles don't get you the lack of support and not knowing where the next re-fueling stop is located will. For some great reading go to You can read stories about the past races and somewhere you can get a link to radio broadcasts. Monday or Tuesday I will post the story and hopefully some pictures.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pictures from the 300K Brevet

300 K  2011

          Mike Doyle,       Jim Yost,       Larry Ide,             Joe Mann, Jay Yost,    Paul Carpenter, Doug McLerran, Matt Levy


Larry Ide  0409111125b

Larry’s usual diet             Paul looks good in my vest.  Even after RAAM still taking care of him

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PBP Brevet Series

The Big Dog's, out of the Quad Cities, are once again hosting a Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP) Brevet series. The series consists of a 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K and when completed qualifies the rider for entry into the 2011 addition of the historic ride. The series runs from early April to early June. RUSA is the governing body of the Brevets held through-out the country.

What is a Brevet compared to a race? This RUSA web page defines Brevet and Randonneur pretty well. Brevet's are not a race, the time cutoff is close to 10 mph. There are no awards for first place, all finishers are treated equally and usually the results are posted alphabetically. During a brevet if your riding partner has a mechanical problem or wish to take a "nature" break, add or shed a jacket then you stop and wait. If someone is struggling you let them draft and maybe back the pace off a little. You don't see that during a race. Don't get me wrong there are "racers" who enter brevet's and cannot resist the temptation to push the pace. Many times they will pay for it down the road especially during the 400 and 600K.

The 200K on April 2nd had 23 finishers from all over the Midwest. See results. Fellow Melon City Bike Club members Mike Doyle and Joe Wies joined me for the 6:00 am start in Eldridge Iowa. Mike has done a couple of brevet's in past years but this was Joe's first. We rolled out into the pre-dawn morning with a nice group of 11 of us. The route head west to Bennett, south to Wilton, the west to Nichols. The wind was gently blowing out of the NE so the wind would not be much of a factor. The pace was more controlled then any brevet I have ever done. We rolled along in a nice double pace line chatting as the miles rolled by. It was a mini RAAM reunion with Paul Carpenter and Jay Yost. Paul was a rider last year and Jay and I were on his support crew. It was good to catch up on how life and cycling had been treating them. Larry Ide (crazy Larry) was also in the group. I have ridden several long rides with Larry over the years and it is always nice to have him along. Fellow Trans Iowa participant Jeremy Frye was also out getting some training miles in for the big ride on April 23. The ride went without a hitch until 5 miles after the turnaround on highway 70 between the Nichols turn and F70. This stretch of road is pretty beat up and it looks like they tried to fix it by putting a thin layer over the top. That layer did not stick. With the variations in the surface color it is hard to notice pot holes. The 11 of us were riding two abreast when a pot hole snuck up on us. As the leaders tried to dodge the hole the riders behind were scrambling/panicking. this resulted in the back riders running into the riders in front of them. Two riders got tangled and one went down. As we slowed and circled back to survey the damage I hoped it was not Mike of Joe. It was both of them. Joe went down and Mike got ran into. It looked like Mike's rear skewer met Joe's front spokes and Joe's front skewer met Mike's rear spokes. The result was a really bent spoke for Joe and a broken spoke for Mike. Joe also had a nice scrap on his knee. We were able to fix Joe's but not Mike's wheel. We managed to get the wheel to stop rubbing the brakes but was really close to the frame. As we neared Muscatine Mike decided it was not worth risking ruining his frame so he headed home.

Shortly after saying good-bye to Mike we started working our way into the looming northeast breeze tha thad picked up as the day progressed. The first stretch was pretty protected but the two undulating sections from Wilton to Bennett were wide open. Keeping a group together in a cross wind is hard enough, but toss in a few rollers and it soon becomes "everyman for himself" trying to stay in the draft. Our shrunken lead group of five rolled into Bennett with a huge sigh of relief knowing the last 26 miles would be all tailwind. At this point I decided to wait for Joe and the rest of the shattered group before heading out. The last section was at a nice conversational pace and a great way to end a ride.

Total time was just under 8 hours with waaayyy to much time off the bike. Next up the 300K brevet as the last training ride before Trans Iowa.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Riding

Who looks forward to the sunny warm weather riding more?  The riders who have been stuck inside all winter staring at the wall wishing they were outside. Or the riders who have been outside freezing their tails off since November and are getting tired of it.

My wife is a fair weather rider.  A really fair weather rider.  If it is below 60 she does not want to ride outside.  She will run outside sparingly at 40 degrees but not even think about riding.  On the rare occasion that she does ride outside she really overdresses because she HATES to be cold.  Her overdressing saves us in cold weather attire because what she wears are 50-60 I wear at 30-40.  So she can just wear my stuff.

The un-seasonably warm weather this week brought many summer time riders outside.  In addition the riverfront trail was full of walkers, joggers, mom’s pushing strollers, and people walking dogs.  This was a stark contrast to last Sunday’s gloomy and cool day when people were hunkered down wondering when spring would get here.

Wednesday night the Melon City Bike Club had the first dinner ride of the year.  These rides have been a first and third Wednesday night staple of the club for close to 10 years.  The normal format is to ride 15-25 miles to a restaurant in a small town and then shuttle back.  To start the season this ride was out and back with dinner taking place at a local bar called Wine Nuts.  The “dinner” consisted of pizza delivered from another local establishment called Salvatore's.  It was nice to have the food ready to eat as soon as we got done riding and the bar has a wide variety of vines and beers.

36 riders showed up at the riverfront for the ride.  Around 15 more friends and family showed up to join in the festivities.  What a great way to start the riding season.  The tough part will be the few chilly days that the weather man will throw our way just to make the nice warm days seem that much more warmer.

As summer draws near there are more phone calls for riding partners. There are also more chances to get out and ride with Connie.  She joined me for two rides this week.  Wednesday for the dinner ride and today (Sunday) for a 26 miles ride.  She shocked me today wanting to ride because her legs were still sore from an eight mile run on Saturday.  She even picked the direction to go and choose a very hilly route. We headed out around 2:00 as the temperatures reached 60 degrees with the sun shining.  As usual she was over dressed with a vest, tights, sleeves and shoe covers.  She took off the shoe covers and the vest before we left, the tights 4 miles later and the sleeves after 10 miles.  In her defense the forecast was for upper 60’s but it was 75 by the time we got done.  What a great surprise.  This was the second Sunday in a row the weather man was wrong.  This time it was finally in our favor.

I am always thankful that one of my riding partners is Connie.  I am even more thankful that when she rides it is not just tooling along.  Today, being only her second outdoor ride, she pushed it up the hills pretty well.  In the windy sections she was doing her share of pulling.  With the boys off at college we will be able to enjoy many evenings and afternoons riding together this srping.  We will miss the tennis meets and soccer games that we attended while the boys were in high school but riding together beats them all.  Once in a while if we are lucky we can get both boys to ride as well.

Monday, February 28, 2011

CIRREM Gravel Road Race 2011

On Saturday the 26th I entered the third annual CIRREM gravel road race held in Cumming Iowa (10 miles south of Des Moines).The 64 mile race is put on by Des Moines area cyclists who three years ago organized a group ride as motivation for some cold weather training  This year saw 80 riders pre-registered with another 30 race day entrants. 

I have been eye-balling this race for a couple weeks as training for April’s Trans Iowa.  With 7 weeks to go it is time to ramp up the training intensity and start to focus on hill climbing.  As the day approached the weather forecast looked pretty good with temperatures in the low 30’s and no snow or rain.  Mid-week we got about 3 inches of snow but it missed the Des Moines area and the forecast temperatures was still in the mid 30’s.  Earlier in the week, before our snow, our gravel roads were in great shape so I figured the race course would be dry and fast.  Friday night saw 2 inches of new snow and colder temperatures for the race.  I tend to stress about rides like this as I over think every little detail.  What tires to run, what to carry to eat/drink, what to wear, will I stop at the sag stop.  Every time the forecast changed my strategy would change.  This was a 4 to 5 hour training ride and not that important for my season.  For Trans Iowa my mind will really be in overdrive. 


Leaving Muscatine at 6:30 a.m. we headed west for a 9:00 arrival in Cumming and a start time of 10:00.  With temperature in the upper teens my main concern was keeping the water from freezing during the 4-5 hour ride.  I had two insulated bottles filled with warm water, one was Perpetuam.  I also was trying a Camelbak under my jacket.  I had some Power Gel bites along as an extra fuel source that would be easy to eat on the move.  I was worried I might be a little under dressed and hoped the harder pace would generate enough heat to get me by and it did.

After the start Connie was headed to Des Moines for some shopping and to meet Chris for lunch.  They were going to meet me back at the Cummings Tap after 5 hours or earlier if I called.  The pace was pretty social as we rolled out.  We even stopped at one corner for a nature break. It was interesting after an hour it seemed like we rolled though the feed zone.  Riders started digging in there pockets for gels, bars and thawed water bottles.  The challenge was completing this simple task with lobster gloves on your hands.  More then one gel ended on the ground. 

Our front group of 30 hit some serious hills around mile 20 and the group began to thin out.  The hills were endless and after the 4th or 5th serious roller I was one of the casualties.  During a brief reprieve a handful of us were able to get back on the tail of the group.

Near the 25 mile mark we had a long gradual downhill. Partway down the hill a rider on the far left of the road hit a rut that launched him and his bike sideways through the middle of the group.  I was behind him and had to move clear to one side to avoid the carnage.  Total three rides hit the deck.  Once we got to the bottom of the hill we stopped to wait for everyone to re-group.  When was the last time you saw that during a road race?  A few miles later I was off the back again for good.

My plan was to ride non-stop so I rolled through the sag stop at the 30 miles mark.  1:57 was my time at that point.  That is less then 15 mph average.  I was comfortable with the fact I was going to be on my own the rest of the race.  I caught a few riders, got caught by a few, but basically was on my own.  Just past the sag stop both my water bottles were frozen beyond use.  I could not even unscrew the caps to get the liquid out.  Getting my Camelbak nozzle out from inside my coat, while moving down the road, proved impossible wearing my heavy gloves so I decided to pull over.  I also needed to remove my goggles because they kept freezing over and I was tired of scrapping the ice off them to read the cue sheet.  My heart sank as I grabbed the nozzle that would supply the only water I would have for the next two hours only to find it frozen solid.

Around mile 45 I was passed on a climb.  A couple miles later I was feeling pretty good and decided to use the rider ahead as a rabbit.  I picked up the pace and kept my mind focused on the chase. By mile 58 I caught up with him.  At the pace we were going there is not much benefit to drafting but misery loves company.  With all the hills it is easier to ride your own pace.  A few miles later it was obvious his uphill pace was more then mine and I was on my own again for the last 5 miles of the race.

I really had no goals for this race other then a really good workout.  Not drinking or eating enough had it’s effect on how I felt finishing.  The last 4 miles seemed to take forever as I counted down each mile.  It was nice to finally see the finish after 4:34 of riding.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out I finished in 12th place. 

This is the third type of in-formal gravel road ride I have entered.  Very low key with the focus on the social event before and after the ride.  Each race has had less then ideal riding conditions but I have come away really enjoying the day.  Next time I need to stick around longer to partake in the post-race activities and get to know more of the riders.


My write up will come later today. Here is a link to the Garmin stats of an ISU student who was on the back of the winning tandem. I have also added a few write ups.

Guitar Ted

Cycling Obsession
Rest Stop Pictures

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cast of Characters

With the warmer weather the area saw last week I was able to get a nice ride in with a group for a change. For some reason this off-season many of the locals have been hiding instead of riding. Cylcling is always more fun if you are surronded by a cast of characters. Meet the group I spend quite a bit of time with.

Greg Harper has always been up for a few winter time rides but this year his calender seems to be a little busier. He runs the roller races in Eastern Iowa and that keeps him traveling most weekends. Thankfully those are almost over. A few winter-time get aways south of the border have kept him busy as well. He just added a cross bike to his collection and has been out a few times. Hopefully that will continue this spring.

Mike Doyle(Doyley) has been the closest to a regular riding partner I have had this off-season. He just got a new cross bike around the first of the year so he has been eager to explore the gravel roads with me. His work schedule has been a little crazy so he has been hit and miss as well. The earlier in the season I can get him out the better chance I have of talking him into some crazy long spring rides. He is so gullible!

Bill Ford (Wiford) dropped off the face of the earth in September. Until this year he has been the rock steady guy to get out with in the winter. It was nice to see him re-surface to join us on Sunday's ride. The rides are always a little more intense when Bill is along. His motto is "every ride is a race" and "every stop ahead sign or city limits sign is a sprint". Don't invite Bill on a tail wind ride. His idea of enjoying the tailwind is to see how fast he can go the entire time. He is great to have along as a horse in the headwind though.

Jon Sulzberger (Jonnie) had a really strong fall and joined me on cross bikes early in the winter. You never know if he is going to show up. He will call thirty minutes before a ride to ask if anybody is riding and not know for sure if he is going to ride. Last year for the ride out to RAGBRAI an hour before we were leaving for a three day trip he was not sure yet. He did not go with us. Hopefully we can rope him into this years ride out.

Bill Harper (Billy) has not taken the cyclo-cross bike plunge yet. A couple of really dusty gravel road rides in the fall ruined his taste (literally) for the gravel. He teaches a spin class on Sunday mornings so that screws up early Sunday rides. He will be a steady participant as the spring approaches. Last year he rode out to RAGBRAI with us and had a great time. I think I can get him on a few more crazy adventures this year.

Chad Bishop is the proto-typical racer type of the group. Put Chad and Wiford together on the same ride and hold on for dear life as the testosterone is thick. I am trying to teach him the meaning of a base building ride. He did a pretty good on Sunday keep the pace down. Chad want to work on building his endurance so hopefully I can get him on some longer (3-5 hour) rides this spring.

I have the fortune of riding many miles each year with my wife Connie. She is definitely a far weather rider. Once the weather warms up she is out in full force. Monday nights are her riding night and once in a while I can convince her to come out and play on a Tuesday night ride. When she does join us she can hold her own. She really likes the longer weekend group rides for the social aspect. She

Trash talking is always part of any group ride. On this weekends ride Wiford shows up, pats Doyley on the stomach and says"now I don't feel so bad". Greg was way over dresses. There is a lady who rides with us on accasions and she is always overdresses. I told Greg he looked like her. Let the season begin!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spring is Around the Corner?

With only six weeks of winter left it still feels like it will never get here. The 16 inches of snow that fell/blew this weeks only reinforces that feeling. I have ridden more miles outside this off season then any other still I yearn for a ride that I can sweat from a hard effort on a warm day instead of from being over dressed. Or to feel the wind cool me on a 40 mph decent instead of freezing me to the core. Getting motivated to spend 30 minutes getting dressed, 20 minutes getting undressed and several hours getting warmed back up gets harder each ride. Now that I am done complaining I will switch to some brighter subjects.

The last two days the sun has shined while I was riding. Last week the weather man said we had 50 out of lasts 60 days that were cloudy or mostly cloudy. It was really nice to look back and see my shadow following you as I passed huge piles of snow on the local gravel roads. Just having the warm sunshine while riding always makes the ride more enjoyable.

I am fortunate to live outside of town so I don’t have to deal with the slushy city streets every time I venture out to ride. My housing addition has been a little messy but that is only half a mile from the highway that has a clear dry paved shoulder for riding. From there I have many gravel roads and county paved roads to choose from. The county has done a great job keeping these clear after the big storm. For the most part the snow has melted and the roads are just a bed of frozen gravel. That makes for fast riding conditions.

Since the housing additions has been snow packed most of the year the cyclo-cross bike has been the ride of choice. Of the 17 outdoor rides this year only three have been on my road bike. Outdoor miles have ranged from 97 to 12 with most falling in the 30-35 mile range. Two to three hours of riding in the below freezing temperatures is all I care to ride. Besides the normal water bottles spouts are usually frozen enough that you can’t drink from them after an hour. During the summer I don’t like to use the insulated bottles because they don’t hold as much water and are too hard to squeeze. During below freezing rides filling them with hot water is the best way to ensure you have something to drink longer then an hour. With temperatures in the upper 20’s it takes about two hours for an insulated bottle to freeze beyond use.

Since the first big event of the year will be the Trans Iowa(TI) on my cyclo-cross bike getting big miles on that bike has been a training objective. Eleven weeks from today (Easter Weekend) I hope to be sitting here writing my story about what an awesome adventure TI was and how I can’t wait for next year. In a few weeks I will ramp up the intensity of my rides by adding some hill repeats and increasing my weekly long rides. If you have ridden many gravel roads you know they tend to be a little hillier. The big hills are also steeper and add in some gravel for poor traction and the going gets pretty tough.


This is the Mapmyride route for one of my planned training routes. Both big climbs are on gravel and the second one, at the 12 mile mark, is very tough. I have ridden it four times. Twice I had to walk. One of those times was in the snow and they had not plowed it. Between the 14 and 16 mile mark are a series of rolling hills. On one of the hills I managed a max speed of 36 on the cyclo-cross bike. That is a little scary on gravel.

Another training route will be the hills up the bluff off highway 22 east of Muscatine. In a 10 miles stretch of highway 22 if you go north there are four paved climbs and three gravel climbs. It will be interesting to wear Connie’s GPS on that route and see what percent grades they are.

For the next couple weeks, prior to increasing the intensity, the plan is to increase the miles each week with the focus being the long rides on the weekends. Hopefully the temperatures will start to increase and there will be some group rides to add a little more fun to the rides and get me motivated.

Total miles Year to date: 992

Mileage goal Year to date: 944

Outdoor miles: 610

Indoor miles 382

Weekly average: 193

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Cold Weather

As winter continues its firm grip on the mid-west riding outside becomes a mental challenge.  I have always thought that you do not have to be tough to ride outside in the cold.  You have to be tough to take the first step outside to ride.  I have all the clothes I need to keep me pretty warm during a chilly ride. After a couple days of riding in the sub-freezing temperatures it is hard to get the motivation to spend the 20-30 minutes getting everything out and dressed for the actual ride.  By contrast it only takes 2-3 minutes to be dressed and riding the trainer in the 70 degree basement. 

For this winter I would like to keep my outside miles above my inside miles.  That would be pretty easy if I just quit riding inside but I have mileage goals to meet each week so I don’t turn into a slacker.  The goal for the month is 785 miles and so far I am just a little ahead of schedule.

Weekly Miles: 210 miles (118 outside,92 inside)

Monday: 10 miles easy on rollers

Tuesday: 46 miles indoors

Wednesday: 20 miles easy on Velodyne

Thursday: 16 miles medium on Velodyne

Friday: 30 miles outside at medium tempo

Saturday: 38 miles cross bike on Gravel with Mike

Sunday: 43 miles cross bike on gravel

Sunday: 7 miles easy indoors

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Riding Clothing Tips


This time of year is tough for a cyclist in the frigid snow belt of the US. It seems like I have been bundling up to ride outside for a very long time and the warmth of spring is still a ways off. The days are slowly starting to get long and that is always welcome. I don’t hate riding indoors but I don’t seem to be as motivated to doing the mind numbing workouts like I used to. I have been cycling seriously for 22 years and have learned a few tricks to cold weather riding survival.

Keep your feet warm: In a previous post I talked about the toasty winter riding boots I use. These boats combined with the carbon activated hand warmers keep my feet toasty and allow for longer rides in the bitter cold without the discomfort of frozen toes.

Warm Hands: Keeping my hands warm is the next priority. Like your feet these are very delicate areas that are just sitting in place therefore do not create there own warming factor. Unlike feet the hands can get too warm, start to sweat and then get cold. Because of that factor I have an “arsenal” of gloves to choose from. Below is a table of what I wear and the corresponding temperatures.

TypeTemperature Range
NothingAbove 70
Cycling Gloves60 - 70
Cycling gloves and windproof shell50 - 60
Long finger gloves50 - 60
Long finger gloves and windproof shell40 - 50
Thick gloves30 - 40
Lobster glovesbelow 30

You will notice there is some overlap. On long rides the temperature can change 20-30 degrees, warmer or colder, as you ride. During those rides I cannot carry all the gloves I will need. That is where the windproof shell comes in very handy. To look at these gloves you would not think they would be very warm. If you can keep the wind off your hands it is amazing how much warmer they are. They are easy to store in your pocket or bike bag and allow quite a bit of flexibility. During late afternoon rides in the spring and fall I will likely have these gloves in my pocket. In addition most wind proof gloves are also water proof. That does not mean wearing them while riding in the rain will keep your hands 100% dry but it sure helps. There are several brand of windproof gloves on the market. Make sure if you buy a pair that they fit over your cycling gloves. I very rarely, if ever wear mine by themselves.


Ian Henriksen, Eric Henriksen, Bret McGreer, Jon Sulzberger, Greg Harper, Me

Bike club New Year’s Day Ride

One of my latest “discoveries” had been riding with ski goggles. I started this last year in an attempt to keep my cheeks warm. The cheeks are a hard part of the face to keep warm. If you pull your balaclava up too far it covers the nose and fogs your glasses. Goggles not only keep me cheeks warm they also don’t fog up the instant you stop at an intersection. Busy intersections are not a good time to have your vision impaired. If the temperature is 30 degrees or below I am wearing goggles. You can buy a pair at most sporting goods stores for as little as $20 or as much as $100. Mine cost $19.99. Make sure they are anti-fog and have good padding where they sit against your face. The anti-fog lenses are actually two lenses with an air pocket in between. As you can see in the above picture goggles were popular on this 14 degree windy day. The rider second from the left actually ending up wearing goggles as well.

Don’t let the cold temperatures force you inside all winter. With some smart options you can venture outside even on the coldest days. Winter gear is a great investment. It will not get used very often so it should last for many years.

Weelkly Miles: 200.29

Monday - 25 easy around town on Cyclo-cross bike

Tuesday - 40 on velodyne doing various intervals with Doyley

Wednesday - 28 road bike out F70

Thursday - 36.2 Cyclo-cross bike with Greg on his B-day

Saturday - 30 easy on Velodyne

Sunday - 51 on raod bike F70, Nichols, Conesville and G28

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter and Nutrition: Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise

By Nancy Clark For
Some athletes embrace winter's chill as a welcome change from exercising in summer's heat. But others complain about hating cold weather.

If that's your stance, remember that exercising with proper nutrition (and layers of dry clothing) offers the opportunity to chase away the chills. After all, an aerobic workout can increase your metabolism by 7-10 times above the resting level. This means that if you were to exercise hard for an hour and dissipate no heat, you could raise your body temperature from 98.6 to 140 degrees F. (You'd cook yourself in the process!)

In the summer, your body sweats heavily to dissipate this heat. But in the winter, the warmth helps you survive in a cold environment. Runners can enjoy a tropical environment in their running suit within minutes of starting exercise. Because food provides the fuel needed to generate this heat, the right sports diet is particularly important for skiers, skaters, runners and other athletes who are exposed to extreme cold.

This article addresses some common questions and concerns about winter and nutrition and offers tips to help you enjoy the season.

For safety's sake, winter athletes should always carry with them some source of fuel in case of an unexpected slip on the ice or other incident that leaves them static in a frigid environment. Winter campers, for example, commonly keep a supply of dried fruit, chocolate or cookies near by for fuel if they wake up cold in the middle of the night. You want to have an emergency energy bar tucked in your pocket, just in case.

Why do I feel hungrier in the winter than in the summer?

A drop in body temperature stimulates the appetite and you experience hunger. Hence, if you become chilled during winter exercise (or when swimming at any time of year, for that matter), you'll likely find yourself searching for food.

Eating "stokes the furnace," generates heat, and helps warm your body. Food's overall warming effect is known as thermogenesis (that is, "heat making"). Thirty to 60 minutes after you eat, your body generates about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach.
This increased metabolism stems primarily from energy released during digestion. Hence, eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production (warmth).

Do I burn more calories when I exercise in the cold?

Cold weather itself does not increase calorie needs. You don't burn extra calories unless your body temperature drops and you start to shiver. (And remember: The weather can actually be tropical inside your exercise outfit.) Your body does use a considerable amount of energy to warm and humidify the air you breathe when you exercise in the cold.

For example, if you were to burn 600 calories while cross-country skiing for an hour in 0-degree F weather, you may use about 23 percent of those calories to warm the inspired air. In summer, you would have dissipated this heat via sweat. In winter, you sweat less.

If you are wearing a lot of winter gear, you will burn a few more calories to carry the extra weight of layers of clothes, or skis, boots, heavy parka, snow shoes, etc. The Army allows 10 percent more calories for the heavily clad troops who exercise in the cold. But the weight of extra clothing on, let's say, winter runners, is generally minimal.

Why do I find myself shivering when I get cold?

Shivering is involuntary muscle tensing that generates heat and offers a warming effect. When you first become slightly chilled (such as when watching a football game outdoors), you'll find yourself doing an isometric type of muscle tensing that can increase your metabolic rate two to four times.

As you get further chilled, you'll find yourself hopping from foot to foot and jumping around. This is Nature's way to get you to generate heat and warm your body. If you become so cold that you start to shiver, these vigorous muscular contractions generate lots of heat - perhaps 400 calories per hour.

Such intense shivering quickly depletes your muscle glycogen stores and drains your energy. This is when you'll be glad you have some emergency food in your pocket!

What's a big nutritional mistake winter athletes make?

Failing to drink enough fluids is a major problem among winter athletes--hockey players, skiers, runners and winter hikers alike. Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you'll feel less thirsty despite significant sweat loss (if you overdress), to say nothing of respiratory fluid loss.

That is, winter athletes need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water that gets lost via breathing. When you breathe in cold, dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water.

Some winter athletes purposefully skimp on fluids because urinating can be problematic--too much hassle to shed layers of clothing (ski suit, hockey gear, snow pants, etc.) Yet, dehydration hurts performance and is one cause of failed mountaineering adventures.

What's best to eat to warm myself up?

If you become chilled by the winter weather, as can easily happen if you:
Wear sweaty, wet clothing that drains body heat
Fail to wear a hat (30 to 40 percent of body heat can get lost through the head)
Drink icy water (from a water bottle kept on your bike or outside pocket of your backpack when winter hiking)

The best way to warm yourself up is to consume warm carbohydrates--hot cocoa, mulled cider, steaming soup, as well as oatmeal, chili, or pasta. The warm food, added to the thermogenic effect of eating, contributes to rapid recovery.

In comparison, cold foods and fluids chill your body. Research subjects who ate a big bowl of ice cream in five minutes experienced a drop in fingertip temperature of 2 degrees F in the first five minutes, 5 degrees in 15 minutes.

In summer, this cooling effect is desirable, but in winter, hot foods are the better way to warm yourself. Bring out the thermos of soup!

Why do I gain weight in the winter?

Some people eat more because they are bored and less active. Instead of playing tennis, they are eating mindlessly in front of the TV. For others, the change of seasons has a marked affect upon their mood (known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD). Changes in brain chemicals increase carbohydrate cravings and the desire to eat more.

Holiday temptations also contribute to weight gain. A study of 195 people indicates they gained on average 0.8 pounds in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Overweight and obese people gained even more, with about 14 percent of the group gaining more than 5 pounds. The problem is, very few of the subjects lost those holiday pounds. Hence, yearly holiday weight gain--that's 8 pounds in 10 years--becomes a major contributor to America's obesity problem.
One weight-management solution is to stay active in the winter. By investing in proper clothing, you'll be able to stay warm from head to toe. You'll benefit from not only being able to enjoy exercise but also from sunlight--a good way to battle winter depression (and attempts to cheer yourself up with food).

Winter exercise is an asset for managing health, weight and the winter blues. The tricks are to dress right, fuel well, prevent dehydration--and you'll stay warm!

Nancy Clark, MS RD offers nutrition consultations to casual exercisers and competitive athletes at her private practice located at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-383-6100). Her best selling "Sports Nutrition Guidebook," 3rd Edition ($23) and her "Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions" ($20) are available via
This article originally appeared on—your source for event information, training plans, expert advice, and everything you need to connect with the sport you love.