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Olympians to Run the Inca Trail

I keep telling you guys that you need to get in touch with me in case you ever want to do something totally awesome.

As many of you know my wife is Peruvian, so after our arduous school year, we decided  to head down to Peru to show off our new baby to the extended family. Well, once I knew I was coming down, I sent off an email to Roberto Carcelen, Peru's first Olympic athlete (cross-country skiier naturally), and Roberto convinced me to come along on this trip from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu.

You can read about the details in the official press release that Roberto sent me.  I tell you though, if there's one thing that is always a bad idea, it's going on a 10 day running trip at altitude with a bunch of Olympic athletes.  In fact, Roberto called me up the other day to ask what kind of shape I'm in.


When Olympians ask you what kind of shape your in the answer is always...TERRIBLE!

Needless to say, I'm not going to run this like the rest of them, and if I need an excuse for why I'm so slow, I'm going to blame my camera (because I'm going to be taking a lot of pictures).

I'd really like to start making our shop in St. Croix Falls the launching point for a bunch of marvelous adventures like this.  Stay tuned for more information!

Peanut Butter and Jelly, Unsafe at Any Speed

This is from the Chippewa Valley Century ride again.  This was at the last pit stop before the finish.  The Chippewa Valley Century ride is awesome for a lot of reasons.  One of those reasons is that it has food stops with cookies, Gatorade and Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

I tell ya, when you pull in at the end of a three hour bike ride, it's impressive how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can eat.  I don't know if it was just a side effect of a warm day, or a long period of inactivity, but I came into that pit stop HUNGRY.

I literally wiped out an entire family of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I ate the grandma peanut butter and jelly, the mom and pop peanut butter and jelly, and all three of the little peanut butter and jelly kids.  I felt good about dominating the peanut butter and jelly family because I sure as heck can't dominate anything on my bicycle.

The only way it could have been better is if somebody had stuck some extra nacho flavor Doritos into the sandwiches to give you that "CRUNCH!" sound that is reminiscent of cracking bones.  Yummmm...makes bike riding worthwhile.

Attacked by a Snapping Turtle While Running

No, that's not the snapper that attacked me, that's just the statue of the snapper that lives in Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls.

So, what's the deal?  Is early summer the time of year when all the snappers and other turtles decide to commit mass suicide by SLOWLY crossing the road to lay their eggs in random places?  It seems like they're out in droves this time of year.  It also seems like you can't cross the state of Wisconsin without seeing three or four snappers that have been just split in half.  I can't figure out if people maliciously try to run them over, but it seems like a shame whenever you see one of those big dead ones.  Don't they take about 75 years to get that big?  Maybe not everyone knows that.

Or maybe I'm missing something and there's some reason that people turn into giant turtle assassins?  I don't know.

Anyway, the other day I was out for a run on the path right next to the buffalo habitat in Irvine Park (seriously, Irvine Park is awesome...they literally have a buffalo habitat).  So I was running along when a warden said, "watch out, there's a snapper dug in up there by the cone."  He'd stuck a big orange parking cone to mark the spot, and sure enough, as I approached I could see this big snapper sitting in there with it's evil beak that latches on to you and won't let go unless you cut off its head (or so they say).

Well, I hurdled the animal (actually I ran around it because those things can leap fifty feet straight up in the air) and continued on my way.  I got out to my turn-around point and headed back.  It was getting dark but I wasn't too concerned because I knew that the turtle's location was marked.  So I trotted along and got close to the cone.  I glanced in as I passed it, and was surprised to discover that the turtle was gone!

Darn it!

That thing could be anywhere, and I realized that in the low light the chance of my accidentally stepping on its head and irritating it (thus provoking a battle to the death) had risen exponentially.

I scoured the ground, getting more and more nervous the longer I went before I finally found the creature's hiding place.  Finally I spotted it, about twenty meters down from it's original hole.  I gave the beast a wide berth and headed home without incident.

So seriously people, is my concern over the jumping/biting powers of snapping turtles exaggerated, or can those things really be dangerous.  I rely on the mercy of the internet to enlighten me!

Elliptigo: Cross Between Bicycle and Elliptical Machine

A couple of weeks ago, I did the Chippewa Falls century ride with my mom and Neal. Actually I didn't do the century because I'm not in any kind of shape, but I did manage to get out there and do 50 miles.  Mom and Neal stuck it out for 75 I think.  Those guys are awesome, they did something like 4,000 miles last year (if I'm not mistaken, maybe it was 10, I don't remember).

Anyway, on the Chippewa Falls ride we came across this guy who was riding something that looked like a cross between a bicycle and an elliptical machine.  As you can imagine, it was drawing quite a crowd of gawkers.  Using my usual charm, I elbowed my way through all the gawkers and their redundant questions, and started to ask some good questions of my own.

Turns out, the thing is called an Elliptigo and you can check out their web page here.  I couldn't really figure out the purpose of combining running with bicycling.  I asked the guy if this was for XC ski training, and he said it was more for running training.

Ok...but why not just go for a run?

I suppose the logic is that the elliptical machine is zero impact so it's more specific to running than riding a bicycle but produces less impact than actual running.

I'm sorry though, the thing looks just goofy, and people riding it look a little awkward.  On their web page they have a picture of somebody who set up their Elliptigo on a stand and uses it like a stationary elliptical machine...so I guess that's the angle you use to sell it.

"Why buy just a regular elliptical machine, why not buy one that you can ALSO use outdoors!  Take it on down to the grocery store to buy a bottle of milk and you're done with your exercise for the day...go green with Elliptigo!"

Anybody interested in buying one of these?

BIKE TECH: Burped Tubeless Tires - A Quick Trailside Fix!

Stu and Matt teaming up on a quick trailside fix of a burped tubeless MTB tire (note Matt using his trailside repair stand trick).

Today's mountain bike tires allow riders to get by using less air than ever, making for a smoother ride, better traction, and in some cases less need for suspension (thus we're seeing a bit of a renaissance in the rigid MTB category).

Sometimes when running low pressure, we are tempted to go a bit too low and can "burp" the tire while riding through a tight corner.  Burping a tire means that due to the force of your mass pushing outward through the angle of your turn, the tire bead becomes dis-engaged from the rim bead - resulting in a burst of air coming out of the tire - or a burp.  In extreme cases, the entire bead can blow off of the rim - sounding like a gun shot.

While you'd certainly be much more happy to be rolling down the trail, don't let a burped or blown off tire ruin your ride.  Particularly if you're using a liquid tubeless tire solution such as Stans, Cafe Latex, or others, you can likely get your tire seated back on to the rim and up to pressure.

Following are the steps to follow to get yourself rolling down the trail if facing a tubeless mtb tire burp or blowout situation:
  1. Inspect the tire.  Is the tire bead within the rim?  Is the tire bead seated in the rim?  Is the tire holding air?  Is there dirt or grass stuck in the tire bead / rim interface?
  2. If the tire is holding air, all you'll likely need to do is put more air in to the tire.  See our recommended MTB tire pressures in THIS TECH POST.
  3. If the tire bead is no longer seated within the rim or is audibly leaking, carefully inspect the tire bead / rim interface on both sides - look closely for grass, dirt, or other contaminants that may be breaking the necessary air tight seal.  Do your best to clean this up.
  4. If the entire tire bead is unseated from the rim, squeeze the tire, recentering both tire beads all of the way around the wheel.  This will make it easier to inflate in the next step.
  5. Inflate the tire as quickly as possible - the best method is using a CO2 cartridge as this is the quickest way of getting a tire up to pressure and encouraging the bead to "pop" into place.  
  6. Check to make sure that your tire is inflated to the appropriate pressure as outlined in THIS TECH POST.
  7. The worst case scenario of not being able to get the tubeless tire to hold air is to simply remove the valve stem and put a tube in, exactly how you would normally fix a flat.
Matt using a CO2 Cartridge to get the tire bead to "pop" back into place.  In this situation, he was rolling in 2-3 minutes after his tubeless tire blowout.

RUN TRAIL PROFILE: Indianhead Trail - St. Croix Falls, WI

The trailhead of the Indianhead hiking/running trail, located in the Lion's Park, just north of St. Croix Falls on Hwy 87.

For trail runners or hikers who enjoy getting off of the beaten path, the St. Croix River Valley is a treasure trove filled with many off road running options.  

The Indianhead Trail, a spur of the Ice Age State Trail is one of these gems!  Ideal for a short out and back run/hike, or for a longer run, cross the highway and run the fantastic trails in the Wert Nature Preserve.

Following are the basic things you'll need to know about the Indianhead trail, with details and images following:
Location:  Park at the St. Croix Falls Lions's Park, just north of St. Croix Falls, WI on Hwy 87.  Click HERE for the Google Map.

Trail Distance:  1.75 miles each way - out and back, with an additional 6 miles across the street at the Wert Nature Preserve, as well as other Ice Age Trail spurs near by.

Terrain and Footing:  There is a huge variety of terrain and trail surfaces here - ranging from flat to very steep, from jagged rocks to muddy sections.

The beginning section of the Indianhead trail is a crushed traprock surface - a nice warm up for the singletrack to come!

The Indianhead Trail starts out going north from the Lions park as a single track trail, but then changes into a nice 3 foot or so wide crushed traprock trail for about 3/4 mile.  At that point, you will come to a great little campsite (hike in or canoe in only).  Go through the campsite and the trail continues to go north along the river, but as a rougher single track trail.  

One of the several stream crossings on the Indianhead trail, north of the campsite.

This steep and abrupt rocky ridge towers above the river and surrounding lowlands and streams that flow into the river.  It is a definite highlight of the Indianhead Trail!

Shortly after the campsite, you will encounter a number of neat stream crossings (all of which are easily crossable thanks to large strategically placed rocks), a high rocky ridge, and a lowlands area that can be wet sometimes.  After about 1.75 miles of this amazing trail, you'll come to the River Road.  Most people just turn around and go back to the Lion's Park at this point and then run the above mentioned Wert Trails across the street from the park - although you can run north along the river road for a while and hook up with another spur of the Ice Age Trail. 

After 1.75 mile of trail running bliss, you come to the end of the Indianhead Trail at the River Road.  This is the trail marker sign.

Frank at the Woolly Mt. Bike Race

Frank and I headed up to St. Croix Falls on Friday to get a bunch of business done for the ever-approaching opening date of our shop.  As always, everything went perfectly and without a hitch (seriously I get tired of hearing people complain about things...I mean, life's always been this perfectly easy cakewalk for me so I don't understand why other people have such a hard time).

So once the bank got done throwing money at us, we decided to go out for a little bike ride along the spectacular Mountain Bike trails of St. Croix.  

I've only been on a mountain bike about three times in my life, but I have to say that the St. Croix trails are the type of thing that make you want to sell your house, shave your head, and pitch a tent in the woods so you can start mountain biking full time.  The thing that's so amazing about St. Croix is that there are literally BILLIONS of trails (we counted), of an infinite variety (counted that too).  You've got excellent single track, grass, gravel, and even paved trails.

Anyway, I snapped a bunch of photos with my new Nikon S8100 (which I like but I'm only still learning how to use effectively) and we'll be throwing those up on here over the next few days.  Oh, and for those of you who didn't know there was a race in St. Croix, here's a link to Frank's announcement of it.

Proposed CyclovaXC Mural

So if we can get this approved, we were thinking that it'd be awesome to put a big mural on the side of our building that looks more or less like the above picture...except that instead of Clint Eastwood's face we'll put Frank's face on there (not that there's much of a difference).

Haha, ok, so we're probably not really going to do anything like this because I doubt either our landlord or the town of St. Croix Falls would approve of it, but isn't it fun what you can do with the magic of Photoshop?  Perhaps I'll come up with some more and ever more inappropriate wall images that we can consider.

A Pro Bike Race - from the side of the road...

Thor Hushovd, the reining World Champion as seen from the side of the road on Stage 4 of the Tour of California.

I love bike racing.  It's always been in my blood.  Spectating at a pro bike race is also a great time, provided you plan your day out in advance (or are lucky enough to have a friend plan it out for you - thanks Dan!).  Click HERE to see our tips on planning out your pro bike race spectating experience.

The rush of a pro peloton flying by only a couple feet away from you is something that everyone should experience.  Very few other sports allow spectators literally a few feet away from the best in the world, as they exhibit mastery of their craft.  As a bonus, it's free!  From the side of the road, you appreciate how fast those guys are really going - you hear their breathing - the water bottles they chuck slide to a stop at your feet - you hear them talking - and you see the grimaces on their faces.  In short - seeing the blood, sweat, and tears of bike racers in person is powerful!

I had the pleasure of watching stage 4 of the Tour of California.  This video shows the peloton rolling through on the first climb of the day.

If you're a bike enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to check out a pro race.  Here in the Midwest, we have just such an opportunity in the coming week as we're fortunate enough to have the Nature Valley Grand Prix here in the Twin Cities.  Come check it out - you won't regret it!

BIKE TECH: Bike Repair Stand - Trail Side Style!

Matt Fisk of the Woolly Mountain Bike Club uses a trail side tree as a makeshift repair stand.

While mechanical issues out on the trail (or road for that matter) aren't the end of the world, they aren't any fun either.  This hassle factor is often increased exponentially by the fact that you may not have the right tool for the job when out on a ride.

One of the most difficult things about trail side (or road side) repair is  trying to hold on to your bike while making the repair.  In all my years of riding, racing, and as a mechanic, I've usually just held the bike or flipped it upside down while working on it.  Well, a few weeks ago on a group ride of the Woolly Mountain Bike Trails, I witnessed a stroke of genius!

Matt Fisk of the Woolly Club unfortunately had a tire blowout.  Without even thinking about it, he walked to the edge of the trail and hung his bike from a low hanging branch.  He then had both hands to proceed in quickly fixing his flat.  We were back in the saddle in no time.  

Such a simple thing, but one that saves much grief and time.  File this one away for future reference.  It will come in handy sometime when out on the trail or road!

St. Croix Valley Woolly Race - Make It Part Of Your June 11th!

The start line of the Men's Comp Division of the 2010 Woolly Race.  Photo Credit to Alicia Fisk of the Woolly Club.

The 2011 St. Croix Valley Woolly Mountain Bike Race is coming up on Saturday, June 11.  This is the 5th annual edition of an amazing event on some of the hottest new IMBA single track in the country! 

With a 24 mile "Comp", an 8 mile "Weekend Warrior", and a "Baby Mammoth" kids race, there is something fun here for everyone.  Add to that a professionally run event on some of the best trails in the region and a ton of swag - you're sure to have a great time!

The impressive, grass roots oriented Woolly Club (click here to see our interview with them was recently recognized on the national stage through their being awarded the IMBA Clif Bar Trail Preservation Grant.

A few exciting things to know about this race leading up to it:
  • Group Ride:  At 5:30PM on Saturday, 3 June, the Woolly Club will be leading a group ride around the race course.  ALL are welcome!  The first lap around the course will be a NO DROP ride.  Meet in the main parking lot of the St. Croix Falls High School and roll at 5:30PM!
  • Volunteer Opportunities:  Consider volunteering at the race if you don't plan on riding!  You should show up, meet some new people, ride some new trail, smile and laugh.  Free stuff too - lots of it.  For the full scoop, email info@woollyrace.com
  • Pre-Registration:  Pre-Registering saves you money ($30 is dirt cheap for a MTB race).  You also have the first chance at getting one of the sweet Woolly Race T-Shirts (seriously, who doesn't love a shirt with a sweet photo of a Woolly Mammoth on it - really!), and you also have a chance to buy a raffle ticket as a fund raiser for the IMBA Club that gets you a good chance to win a Park Tool Bicycle Repair Stand!