September 9, 2013

2013 Rando de Taco Recap

My day started out pretty slow. I decided to mow the lawn before the ride so I went to church on Saturday night, so I got up and got that done. The wife & kid went to church while I mowed the lawn. A bit later I was done cutting grass, showering, and getting my stuff together for the ride. My buddy Dave rolled over to the house to pick me up & we headed out to Starbucks to caffinate & head to the bike shop. I left my monstercross there after servicing my rear hub the day before. Dave had his Raleigh touring bike in the trunk.

We arrived at the shop about 30 minutes early & I went in to change clothes & grab my bike off a hook in the back. We finished printing some cue sheets for the long route as participants began to arrive out front. This ride started out with the intention of just three of us riding our Ashton made singlespeeds for a few tacos, maybe to Wheaton & back. It's amazing to me that it turned into this big group thing. The Bonebell & Taticycles mentioned the event on Facebook & Twitter. We actually had at least one guy find out about this through Tati & he joined us. He was a chill dude too. One dude wanted to ride, but he had stomach surgery recently and wasn't allowed on a bike. He volunteered to be the event photographer instead. He met us at several taco stops and took pics while eating tacos with us.

We handed out 100km cue sheets & Ashton gave out instructions to everyone. The most important ones were to bring money for food & be nice to others on the trail & at the Mexican restaurants. After all , we were using shared trails & we wanted to be welcome back to the various shops next year. We had two routes planned. a 100 km was always planned, but we added a 40 km option for folks who wanted to attend, but felt that 60+ miles would be too much. A guy volunteered to lead the shorter ride and we provided the route, but some communications issues screwed things up a bit. The short ride participants were supposed to join us at Jaliscos in Aurora at the first stop, then back track & head North to the next two taco stops we mapped out for them. They never did join us. They just headed north from the bike shop & the ride leader took them to random taco shops that he knew about. It wasn't terrible, but it could've been better. Lesson #1 learned for next year. 

After eating at the first shop we had a group just hop on their bikes and tear out of there. Everyone quickly got on their bikes & followed. What we didn't realize was that we dropped a dad who was riding with his preteen son on a tandem mountain bike. They wanted to do the short route, and came with us because this guy actually looked at the GPS route online before the ride. He looked for us on the wrong spur of the bike path & never found us while we waited farther ahead & he never came to us. Ashton even rode back a bit to see if he could find him, with no luck. Lesson #2 learned.

I called Mi Casa in Wheaton, our second stop, on Thursday as we were finalizing our route & putting the GPS routes together for folks to download. I told the guy that he'd have 20-30 cyclists there on Sunday afternoon to eat tacos on our ride. Bill, the photographer, beat us to the spot & said that we would arrive shortly. The owner pulled several tables from the dining room and put them outside on the patio for us. He put tablecloths, chips, salsa, and napkins out for us too. He was genuinely excited to see us roll up and had ice water ready to fill bottles. The dude was just awesome. As we were leaving he ran out back and rolled up to us on a beach cruiser & said "let's ride!" I'm totally going back to that place whenever I'm in Wheaton.

Random fact: We saw a cute brunette walking down the street in Wheaton. Matt, who was wearing bib shorts & a Rando de Taco tank top BTW, rolled up to her and asked for her number. She asked him if he had a phone & gave him her number. He texted with her at the next two taco stops. #truestory

It was around 3:30 pm at this point and we had real concerns about daylight for the last leg of the ride so we decided to bail on the West Chicago stop & head straight up to Elgin for the next leg. On the way out, Ryan got two flats on his road bike (much props to you for attempting a metric the day after your bachelor party BTW). Ashton's wife was also hurting from the pace & distance since she ran a 12 mile run on Saturday. When we hit a section where She and Ryan could peel off, they cut their ride short & headed home on the Geneva spur. The rest of us pressed on to Taqueria Los Comales in Elgin.

We got there and Phil was eating like a horse. The dude went back in for seconds while everybody else was still eating. Tequila was had by several folks. Ashton had a Surly flask on his bike, John from Tati had some in his jersey & I don't know where Matt was storing his. When the bottles ran dry Phil & Matt stopped at a liquor store in Elgin to get more. They hauled butt to catch up to us again on the trail & caught up fairly quickly. I was impressed.

The group split for a bit on the way to St. Charles, but we reconnected at that part of the Fox River Trail where you have to cross the two bridges then climb that hill. That hill is a leg killer, even with my easy gearing of 36x17 on the bike. We regrouped at the top & headed into the Jalapeno Grill in St. Charles. That place easily had the best food of the day. Bill the photographer met us here and snapped a few more pics.

It was getting close to dark at this point and we needed to head back quickly so the group took off to get back on the path & make our way to the last taco stop in North Aurora near the bike shop. The group took off & stayed close together since some folks didn't have lights & needed to hang with those that did. My friend didn't have a light so he hung with me, but he was having problems on the hills, especially after riding 50+ miles. We were by ourselves off the back pretty quickly. We beat feet through Geneva & Batavia & went directly back to Pedal & Spoke while skipping the last taco stop. We met two folks from the ride who did the same thing. The rest of the riders roller up within 15-20 minutes. We handed out the t-shirts to everyone who wanted to buy some & recapped a bit.

I'd say that this event went off pretty well for something that we hastily put together just a week or two ago. It was a fantastic day on the bike and folks seemed to enjoy it, despite a few issues. There was a lot of interest in this and I think that we can really see this thing blow up for next year. 

July 22, 2013

Here's a pic from before my son's first mountain bike race. They let parents ride with their kids so I tagged along. He crashed twice, but still finished and was talking about next year's race before we were even off the course. I had to remind him to focus on the current race before thinking about the next one.

April 29, 2013

IVCA Dirty Mudd'r Race Recap

The Dirty Mudd'r was one of the best gravel rides I've been a part of so far.

The IVCA people rock. The course was challenging, signed well and their cue sheet was spot on too. They had homemade cookies at the rest stops, homemade pulled pork sandwiches at the finish as well as baked potatoes and homebrew beer. Everyone who drank the beer said it was stellar. There was a guy there, Kevin, who looked like Uncle Sy from the Duck Dynasty show. He said a conservative estimate of the beer's alcohol content was 7.5%. They really put on a fantastic event.

I had a rough morning coming into the event. I overslept, got ready & loaded the car, then FORGOT MY BIKE and had to turn around and get it before picking up Ross to head down. We gassed up the car and headed out. As we chit chatted we missed our exit & drove 10 miles farther then planned. We doubled back & still got to the park 30 minutes before the race. I was able to spend time with Yeti & TS1, say hi to all the fast guys, & grab my packet.

Rob and Byron had directional challenges as well & rolled up just the race started. We all rolled out and the pace began ramping up. We quickly lost everyone fast & our pack consisted of Byron, Jeff, Ross & myself. We kept together for the most part until the split. Byron and I kept on going & hooked up with some dudes from Bloomington. The conversation was good and the pace was good too.

My main problem with this ride was that I overdid it. I was worried about getting a low avg speed so I kept hitting it hard throughout the ride. I was rocking 16+mph speeds a lot. I was pretty spent by the last few miles and it took all I had to roll back in. I'm glad that I did as well as I did. I'd do better if I could learn to no yo-yo as much.

May 31, 2012

Here's the ride report I posted after the 2012 NCC Gravel Grovel:

So, here's the deal. I almost died. OK, maybe that's not quite true, but it sure felt like it was going that way for a minute there.

I got to P&S & picked up Ashton and the other two guys who came up with us, Eric & Paul. We arrived at NCC around 8:30, signed in and got ready to ride. I was feeling fine at that point & had no concerns about how hot it was. It was cool to see Steve and Brent, Jon, and Rick (the other guys that knew would be there). We all lined up & got ready to roll.

I thought I was OK as we did the 5ish mile roll out to the start of the gravel, but in hindsight I realize I was already pushing it a bit considering the heat. I was riding with Ashton & Jon, but started to slow down. Ashton rode fixed gear (he runs dingle) and stopped to drop to the lower gear. I stuck with him and we were soon passed by all the folks we knew. At that point we settled in and pedaled while thinking we'd be OK even though the heat was insane.

We stopped to rest & eat three times before the first checkpoint. When we got there, we heard that several people had already dropped out. We were offered water, but didn't take any because we thought we were good. We almost rode in the wrong direction but were flagged by the checkpoint people and we got back on track. Sadly, we made another short error in reading the cue sheet & went a short way off the route. We doubled back & saw another guy doing the same thing. We hollered at him & he turned around and joined us. Turns out he was on a road bike with 23s & had already flatted four times. 23s on gravel roads = pinch flat city.

After a little more riding we stopped in the shade of a tree in a farmer's yard. Ashton realized than he had finished his entire 70oz pack of water & I had finished a third to half of my three liters. I was already starting to get the shakes so I ate some more and Ashton gave me some electrolyte powder to mix in a water bottle I drank down some of that & we were starting to plan our return to the shop. Right at that moment the Half Acre crew from the checkpoint drove up and asked if we were OK. I was dazed & said we were cool, but Ashton told them we needed water. The girls were happy to oblige. They saved us. They also told us that it was very likely that the folks at the third checkpoint might be gone by the time we got that far into the ride. They made sure we had our cuesheet & were off. Ashton and I rode further and finally decided to turn back. We got directions back to shop on our phones & headed back. At one point I was so hot that we found more shade, I got off the bike, took off my gloves, helmet, & shoes so I could rest. At this point I was dreaming of a gas station & a bottle of Gatorade.

We turned back toward the shop around the 25 mile mark & had a 13 mile ride back. We limped home & stopped at a BP station where I drank some Gatorade & ate some cookies. While sitting there Ashton texted with Paul & I shot texts to everyone else letting them know were alive, but had quit since I blew up. After getting back to the shop, we hosed off and changed clothes. It took a while, but I started recovering. We chilled there and I ate a McDonald's ice cream cone as we waited for everyone else to roll in. Jon was the first to get back, then Eric & Paul later on. Rick rolled in just as we were heading to the bar for grub, free beer, & swag. Steve & Brent came over to the bar & met with us. My head still ached, but I was getting in food and trying to recover.

The day was done. I drove back to Pedal & Spoke & dropped the guys off, then went home and chilled with the family. I slept well, but had to wake up early so Eli and I could walk in the Memorial Day parade with our Cub Scout pack. I actually forced him to wear his Camelbak & I also wore my hydration pack too. I wasn't about to let us both get dehydrated on that walk.

What a weekend.

May 24, 2012

Gravel (Cont.)

OK. The Gravel Grovel is in the books. I cut the course short & got in 40ish miles. DNF.

The Barry Roubaix is done. I finished & didn't end it dead last.

Now the for the NCC Gravel Metric. This ought to be good, even though I haven't ridden a bike in ages.

May 17, 2012

Chicago Area Trail Conditions Mobile Site

Andrew Demey has created a cool mobile formated site that scrapes the CAMBr trail conditions off the front page & makes the info easily available on a mobile phone. Bookmark this, put it on your first homescreen & check it often. Also, send some love to Andrew for making such a cool tool.

October 3, 2011


I'm hoping to participate in some longer gravel rides in the next year. You guys know that my plans always fall through, but let's hope I can make at least one or two of these.

First off, we've got the Gravel Grovel on Thanksgiving weekend

The Sub-9 Death March on 03/09/12

Barry Roubaix on March 24th, 2012

Don't forget about the Gravel Metric in Dekalb, that'll happen around Memorial day

OK, I know that Chad is salivating. Let's do this!