With the Almanzo 100 coming up, my friend Jim proposed we hit the training ramp-up with a ride around Lake Pepin. It’s not enough that the trip around the lake is some 80 miles, but as the Almanzo is primarily a gravel race, we of course needed to work in some of the target terrain, so his final route ended up closer to 107 miles. Six of we hardy souls met in partly-flooded Bay Point Park in Red Wing at 9am.
Of course, Jim has already done a couple of (very near) centuries this year, and while i haven’t been a total slug, i haven’t ridden quite that much. Common senseStrict adherence to the 10% rule Time constraints helped dictate a gentler ride for me, and i chose to follow the group only as far as Stockholm (about 1/4 of the loop) and then return. Happily for me, this included a good portion of the gravel and hills for the day, and while i had 64 miles all in (while they ended with 102), an even 40 of those miles were the backwoods route we took to Stockholm. After a lovely sit-down lunch, the remaining group continued clockwise around the lake while i turned back along the direct route, into the headwind.
It was just the thing on a lovely spring day: beautiful dirt roads, hard climbs, fast descents, and excellent company. We laughed, we sweated, we cursed, and in an unprecedented move reflective of the task ahead, we even skipped the pie.
A local design collective 2 & 21 just published a nifty bike facts poster thing. I would have chosen a few different things for the timeline part myself (Surly? Velodrome? MplsBikeLove? nothing before ‘97? there’s too much to include, really), but it’s a pretty nice overview of some things that make cycling here great.
For those foolish hardy souls signed up to ride the Ragnarok 105, Almanzo 100, Dirty Benjamin, or other long gravel road race/event, and those who just like to ride where the roads are primitive, there’s a new Google Group set up to discuss routes, strategy, technique, gear, and the like. The group is a result of an excellent meeting of compatriots yesterday at the Bulldog Uptown, where we sustained an above-average discourse-to-beer ratio.
We had a nice moment there, peering futilely into each other’s hugely dialated, uncorrected eyes, waiting to be called back into the optometrist’s chair.
We laughed at the sight of her shopping, nose inches away from the shelf comparing toilet paper prices, and of me walking blocks down the street navigating only by vague green and red blobs at the corners, neither of us with a clue what people at large thought of our respective adventures. We do know, however, what few people do; twenty minutes is a long time to navigate alone in public at -8 diopter.
Could it work between us? dates tantalizingly spent entirely within clear vision range of six inches? If we had kids, would they be so nearsighted that they could see behind themselves? Alas, we shared only a few minutes of commisseration, good humor, and the experience of living with horribly deformed corneas. Then we went our separate (blurry, dialated) ways.
Sweet (silent) video of a snow machine conversion kit from Armstead Snow Motors Company. It allowed you to convert your tractor or family car to an unstoppable winter transport, and back again for summer.
The father in me imagines the inevitable horrific manglings from all the exposed gears and spinning drums of death, but the teenager in me wants to race it through town after a blizzard.
(video link via my dad)
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for March, 2010.
Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. James E. Starrs