Forgive me. This will be long.
So a bit over a week ago, I did this thing. I told you all about it, then I left on vaca, and left you all hanging. Suffice to say, I survived. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. The start was at midnight(first image), and the first 60 miles was predominantly downhill. It was nearly a full moon, and the skies were clear as a bell. I found myself all alone for large portions of the night, so I decided I'd save my lights batteries and run with out them for a while. At one point, I went nearly twenty miles with no lights but the moon. I think that was my favorite part of the ride. The first checkpoint(we received cue sheets to each subsequent check point) was in total darkness, around 3:30 am(really, I flew the first section!). I was feeling good, took a couple hits of bourbon, grabbed some coffee and vittles and kept going(thank you thank you thank you to Michael for running a totally pro check point!). Pretty quick stop.
The next section was up to, through and out of the Minnesota River Valley(through Redwood Falls). It was probably the prettiest section. Around 4:45, I could start seeing the gloaming, significantly lifting my spirits. I was listening to some music at this point, and SonVolt's Tear Stained Eye was playing, perfect accompaniment IMO. As we were rolling along through the valley, light was gradually coming through from the dawn. The valley was going through a transformation, waking up with birdsong and sights. Fog laying low, with colors softly being revealed. Flowers beginning to pop out, and farms waking. Sunrise truly ended our run through the River Valley. We climbed a Minimum Maintenance Road to the top of the valley. At the top, framed on the sides by the forest we just rolled through, and cornfields welcoming us to the flats of farmland, was the sun, in all its warm glory, greeting us for a loooong(er) day(middle image taken just after the climb(I'm the bright yellow dot). Things were pretty uneventful up to the next checkpoint. I rolled in at 7:38 ride time, finishing the fastest century(that was 120 miles long) that I've ever completed. And I felt great.
The ride to checkpoint three was uneventful, but for riding roads near Henderson that I got my introduction to gravel on. Riding those old familiar roads was very welcome. I knew that everything behind was new, but most of what lied ahead would be familiar terrain(really, from Henderson to the finish in Red Wing was on roads that I have ridden at least once). I got into checkpoint three, got my cues and took a little bit longer break. After all, I was 180 miles in. Fatigue was starting to creep in. I did still feel good though. I texted Lisa(I actually texted her at each stop, just to be that nice guy), let her know I was about an hour out of Northfield(yes, the route took us within two miles of home!).
Dutifully, an hour later, I'm rolling through town on Canada Ave, and dear Lisa had arranged to have a crew cheering us on! That was a sweet little lift that was worth more than you all know. It was so very good to see all of you out there. From there to Cannon Falls, the route was intimately familiar. Then hell started. Really. At mile 210, Trenton started routing us up these wicked rollers. For twenty miles. I wanted to strangle him. Which is really hard to do 'cause he's a really nice guy. I stuck it out though, again, riding roads that I've been on before, so I knew what was coming up. That both helped and hurt matters. The last image shows me rolling up to the sprint finish line(still about 5 miles to go though to the official finish). I am tired. At this point I have sixteen hours on the bike. I'm really ready to be done. A few miles later, in Hagar City, WI, I am. I shook Trenton's hand gratefully and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for providing my biggest challenge ever. I rode my bike 242 miles in one sitting. Something I NEVER thought I'd do. I did it in 16:16 rolling(18:24 elapsed) time. I averaged 15 miles an hour. I finished in 33rd place.
@thedayacrossminnesota I'm leaning to doing it again.
- Marty Larson
Cold temps and snowy conditions are here for the next few months. If you haven't gotten on your fat bike yet you're about to. And maybe you haven't yet found the right tire pressure for the right conditions. We hope we can shed some light on that here:
The general PSI sweet spot is 4 to 8 PSI
Note: Going tubeless will allow you to ride on lower tire pressure without having to worry about pinch flats.
Shrinking of Pressure - As the weather temps drop so does your tire pressure, which can make your ride feel mushy. Here are some numbers to remember:
Know your conditions for best riding preparation
Riding on ice:
Riding on groomed:
Riding on fluff:
Now that you have the low down on tire pressure for winter riding on your fat bike you should be out there every day enjoying the snow!
Bikepacking has become a pretty big adventure over the last year. You have seen many new products and events created and supported by big brands this year. One such event was the Salsa Ride Camp. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make this trip but I followed the stories and pictures and it looked like a well-planned and attended event.
In our hometown of Faribault, MN, we have some really nice roads and parks that support bikepacking adventures and we want to take advantage of that. With supporting brands like Salsa, QBP, & Q-Outdoors in our backyard (just a few miles north of us in Bloomington) some of the outdoors best brands are at our finger tips. Brands like Salsa, Surly, Revelate Designs, Nemo, Big Agnes, Outdoor Research, MSR...the list can go on.
October 2-3 we will be using the accommodations of River Bend Nature Center to create a miniature bikepacking event to teach the basics of what to pack, how to pack, & what not to pack. We will also cook up some camp food from Mountain House and enjoy some morning coffee with help from a local brewer.
Besides the camp aspects we'll take a couple rides of which you can choose your capabilities. If you have packable gear we encourage you to pack it up and enjoy the ride! If not, that's quite fine, you can enjoy the ride either way!
For those of you planning to stay over night we will have some give aways that will definitely be beneficial on your next adventure!
If you have any questions, check out our facebook page or give us call (507) 331-2636.
I made the trip up to Hayward this past weekend to have a go at the Chequamegon 40. The new Trek Farley 9.8 was delivered a couple weeks ago so I figured I would see how this 22 lb (tubeless) beast would perform on the 40 mile course. For those of you that aren't familiar with this course it is mostly the Birkie, mixed with some service roads and other gravel roads.
Though the Farley is a specimen of a bike I've only been able to ride it once before the race and that was a simple 19 miles on gravel. This one ride did, however, help me get a good feel on some fit adjustments that I needed to do.
Race day morning I headed to the start line. I was able to sign up after it was closed but didn't know what type of racing shape I'd be in so I just used the default "wave 7", which was the last wave. Back to the walk up to the start line, I realized this was a bigger race than I thought. As I moved past wave 1, wave 2, wave 3,...all the way back to the last wave, my wave 7, I wasn't sure how the 3 mile roll-out was going to go.
As the rollout began I decided I was just going to race "my own race" today and enjoy the experience and hopefully come out uninjured. Then, 60 seconds later you get caught in the spectator's cheers and the riders that begin to hammer down. At that moment I thought back to an article in the latest issue of Dirt Rag I just read the previous evening that was written by Rebecca Rusch. Rebecca was talking about training with men and how their testosterone turns an "easy" ride into the Tour de France. And how guys can make everything a competition. Apparently, like every other guy, that just kicked in. At that moment I figured I would ride at an above comfortable pace to where my mind could push my body through the last couple miles of the race.
Mile 5, this is super fun! Mile 10, what an experience this is! Mile 15, there are so many different rider types and bikes...awesome! Mile 20, I didn't realize how much mud there would be - I don't mind mud at all...still fun! Mile 29, oh, this is the Fire Tower Hill they spoke of. Being as there were about 1900 riders and I started somewhere in that 1700 range, there were quite a few people ahead of me still at this point. I would estimate 200-300 of those in front of me were on the hill now, with the majority of them walking. I told myself I would NOT walk any part of this course and I stuck to it. I just leaned over my bars and kept spinning until I finally reached the top. Wow! Not too bad, I thought to myself. I still feel OK and I'm 3/4 of the way done, and the Fire Tower is behind me. Now it should be all down hill on the way in....wrong. There were more hills, obviously not as big, but they hurt worse. My lactate acid was not flushing out as quickly as it was before and my stomach began to cramp. The next 6-7 miles weren't too bad but I definitely began to get tired.
Mile 36, there is the wall I figured would come at some point, glad I only have 4 miles to go. Now in my head as riders began passing me, I wonder if this course is truly 40 miles...maybe it's 41...or 42...or...wait, I think I hear cowbells and cheering (typically the finish line is near). Yes! Mile 40 is definitely the finish line and I couldn't be happier to see it! I mustarded up whatever I had left in the tank I pushed it to the end...tired, exhausted, ready to fall over...I definitely be back next year!
On The Farley 9.8:
As I mentioned above, the 2016 Trek Farley 9.8 weighed in at 22 pounds with the tubeless setup on the 27.5 tires. I really wasn't sure how the condition of the course would be so I ran the psi around 12. I think I could have dropped them a bit more. I would maybe try 8 in the front and 10 in the rear. I found myself bounced too much but it was definitely fast. I got a lot of cheers when I rode up the Fire Tower Hill when most were walking. There were a few unexpected bumps, rocks, & water holes I hit that would normally make me tense up but that was not the case at any point in the race. The Farley rolled through, over, & around every obstacle.
Next up for the Farley, winter & snow!