2013 Mammoth Gravel Classic: Camping and Festivities at Big Rock Creek Farm


The upper field towers over Big Rock Creek Farm and the St. Croix River Valley, and will be home for the weekend for  Mammoth Gravel Classic riders!

The time is drawing near for the 2013 re-dux date of the Mammoth Gravel Classic!  This Friday, gravel enthusiasts from across the Midwest will be massing in St. Croix Falls, WI for a fun weekend of riding, camping, eating, and other outdoor festivities!

I was just out at Big Rock Creek Farm this morning (click the link to learn more about the history of this place) scoping out the great camp ground they are setting up for the event - and it's going to be fabulous!  

The "Clubhouse", at the heart of Big Rock Creek Farm is a one of a kind glimpse into good living during the early 1900's and Great Depression.  This is also where the Sunday Morning Coffee and group rides will be.

Following are all of the specifics on camping at Big Rock Creek Farm (this weekend only), for folks who will be in town for the Mammoth Gravel Classic cycling event:

Where:  ~ 3 miles north of downtown St. Croix Falls (Cyclova XC) on Hwy 87.  Click HERE for the Google Map.   There will be camping signs posted from the main Big Rock Creek Farm entrance on Hwy 87, guiding campers back to the campground for the event.  You'll drive through the heart of historic Big Rock Creek Farm, and find a great spot to set up your tent or camping trailer on the bluff overlooking Big Rock Creek Farm and the St. Croix River Valley.
When:  Campers may arrive, set up, hang out, and enjoy the property any time Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6.
Payment of Fees:  Campers will use the honor system for payment.  There will be a payment box at the campground entrance that campers are asked to drop off payment in.  Camping costs $30 for the weekend per adult.  Kids 17 and under are free.  This fee includes camping, unlimited use of the below amenities & events, unlimited use of the trails for the weekend, and helps to offset the County permit that Big Rock Creek Farm has to get to allow us all to camp out there.  Support Big Rock Creek Farm - they are committed to silent sports as a core sustainable use of this one of a kind property!
Amenities:  Camping in the meadow / field overlooking Big Rock Creek Farm, Porta-Pottie outhouse, drinking water in the campground area, and picnic tables.
Events:  Campers will all be able to enjoy, at no charge, the following Saturday evening events:
Saturday Afternoon:  While not at Big Rock Creek Farm, don't forget to replace the calories you burned up!  Swing on by the Wineries & Grille, across the street from Cyclova XC has a Mammoth Gravel Glassic special for us that is certain to please (they always do) and fill the hungriest of cyclists!  This special includes a sirloin burger with chips for $5, and $2 tap craft beers, and 50% off on off sale wine & beer.  Just tell them that you're with the Mammoth Gravel Classic event!There are also numerous other Indian, Coffee Shop, and other food options available within a stone's throw of Cyclova XC and the event finish.  
Saturday @ 4:30PM:  While not at Big Rock Creek Farm, don't forget to come to Cyclova XC for the Swag Drawing (sponsored by Salsa Cycles), as well as check out the new bicycling art exhibit by GNAT titled "Project Steve"!
Saturday @ 7PM:  Lighting of the bonfire.  Big Rock Creek Farm is going to have a nice big brush pile for us to enjoy a bon-fire on Saturday evening on the edge of the camping area.  There will also be extra wood for after the bon fire burns out.
Saturday @ 7:30PM:  Bike Games Begin.  We plan on having a variety of fun bike games happening next to the bonfire.  The bike games will include an elimination heat style "slow race", and other surprise events.
Sunday @ 9AM:  Meet the Scott Hanson, the property manager of Big Rock Creek Farm at the main "clubhouse" building at Big Rock Creek Farm for coffee!  Relax in and explore the historic clubhouse - you don't want to miss this, it will blow your mind!
Sunday @ 10AM:  Roll out for 2 group rides (advanced & beginner/intermediate).  The advanced ride will be about a 10-12 mile spin around the very hilly outer perimeter - mountain bikes are recommended for this ride.  The beginner/intermediate ride will ride the inner trails, along Big Rock Creek - any mountain bike, cross bike, or gravel bike will be fine for this ride.  Both rides will enjoy many highlights of this historic property including the incredible Wilderness Cabin, a water/erosion control system built during the depression that is state of the art to this day, and incredible natural beauty!

The pond below the Clubhouse, is astoundingly beautiful! 


The farm portion of Big Rock Creek Farm is beautiful, and just to the north of the Clubhouse!


Team Gregg To Give a Free Clinic Saturday, Sept. 28

Hey Guys,
Just want to  let you know that Brian and Caitlin Gregg are doing a free clinic tomorrow in support of NNF Drive for 25.  For more information, or to register for the event, click here!

CyclovaXC New Location To Open Tomorrow!

Grand Opening Fireworks!
Hey Folks!

That’s right, on Wed. September 25th we’ll be doing business at our new store location. We’re really excited about this new space and looking forward to having all of you come by to check it out. Once again, the new store space is right across the street from the old one. The address is:

112 N Washington St., St. Croix Falls, WI 54024

Here’s an article I wrote featuring the Google map directions how to get there from the old shop.

In other news, our Gravel Mammoth Classic FREE bicycle adventure is coming up here on Saturday, October 5th. This year you’ll be able to camp out at Big Rock Creek. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for more information about that. Remember this is a rescheduled event because we got about a foot of snow the last time we tried to run it. Imagine if we got another foot of snow this time (although...I’m getting ready to ski so it wouldn’t bother me). Still, that’s not in the forecast so get your bikes ready!

Last weekend a couple of us went out to run the Birkie Trail Marathon. As always, we were in more of a hurry to do our adventure event write-ups than we were to actually finish the event (except for Mullin...that guy hammered the event). Anyway, if you haven’t seen our write ups yet, here they are:



And don’t forget, this weekend is the Root Beer Float ride on the Gandydancer. The Gandy is always fending off threats to become open to 4-wheelers, so it’s important to get out there and show the community that cyclists use this trail. Plus, you get a Root Beer Float! That’s win-win!

So hopefully we’ll be seeing you all shortly at the new shop space! Winter is coming but fall’s still here! Plenty of fun to be had in the St. Croix Valley!  See you on the trails!

The Other Ben's Birkie Trail Marathon Race Report

I think I am expected to write something on the Gravel Conspiracy, and I will, but this is a much easier report to write so you get it first.

Obviously, the other other Ben covered this first with a good write-up.  Mr. Ski's Report  I'll have to agree with a lot of what he wrote.  Including not wanting to let people know about the Two Lakes Campground.  That place is sweet.  The whole drive in there I was eyeing up the sweet rolling and winding backwoods Wisconsin pavement thinking roller skiing.

Since Ben covered the ambiance of the day I'll focus on my race.  First I'll start with signing up for this silly thing.  I got some email from the Birkie about the Birkie Warrior series.  If you did all three of the events at the longest distance (Birkie, Birkie Tour, and Trail Marathon) you could get a sweet jacket.  Prior to that email I was pretty adamant I had no interest in running a marathon anytime soon.  In fact I had told Ben repeatedly I wasn't going to join him for the Eau Claire marathon in the spring nor the Twin Cities in the fall.  Since the Tour was cancelled this year all you had to do was the 50k ski and the marathon.  I was a marathon away from a jacket so it got my interest.  But I stalled.

And then Ben procrastinated and Twin Cities filled up before he registered.  Then something like this happened.


Yup, Dallas, that is what friends are for.  So I signed up.  As one of my comments indicates two weeks ago was the Sasquatch 25K, last weekend was the Gravel Conspiracy, and this weekend the Birkie Trail Marathon.  I have been busy.

I will note that my training has not been optimal.  The 25K was the longest run I have done since 2005.  In the last six months I have exceeded 10 miles three times, including that 25K.  Ideal training plan for a marathon on the Birkie trail?  I think not.

So going in, I set three goals for myself given that I was still recovering from the GC, I wasn't trained properly, and I wasn't sure what to expect.

Goal C - Finish, not hating life.

Goal B - Finish under 5:00.  About half the field managed that last year.

Goal A - Finish under 4:22.  This is a 10:00/mile.  I finished the Sasquatch 25K with 9:34/mile and was DONE.

I never wrote it down, but another goal was to continue my season long competition with Adam.  Given the length of the race though I really thought this would be all about competing with myself.

My race strategy was pretty simple.  Go easy until 13.1, evaluate, continue going easy until 20, then think about what was left.

Great weather, blah blah blah, see Ben's report.  Off the line I just started easy.  I really thought I should run with Ben, Eric, and Seth for a while.  But I didn't.  Sadly it was just after that picture Ben posted that I left them, though it wasn't really a sprint.

So I ran easy, power walked the hills, grabbed a partial gu and water or heed at every aid station and just plugged away.  Somewhere around mile 8.5 G failed me again.  G is my Garmin 305 if you haven't been following along.  He is on his third battery now.  He shut off mid-Minneapolis Duathlon.  He turned back on and started tracking again and after consulting a few other runners I determined I only lost about 1.5 minutes.  Sadly, he blew away all of the actual data from before mile 8.5.

Anyhow, it was pretty lonely out there.  I only saw maybe 10 people between mile 2 and OO.  I got to OO maybe 5 minutes after the half marathon started.  Not too long after OO the trail was filled with people.  Reminiscent of my Birkie ski from this past February I was passing people constantly.  Thankfully passing people running up a hill is much easier than when the trail is edge to edge with people herringboning.  I also caught up to Adam just before OO, chatted with him a while, and then continued on without him shortly after OO.

So at the half way point I was well under my A goal with a half split of about 2:04.  This was a little concerning, and yet I had thoughts in my head that were very positive.  This isn't too bad, 13 miles doesn't scare me (note I was 2 miles from my longest run in 8 years), I think I can go faster than this, could I break 4 hours?, could I set a personal best (3:55 from when I was 19 and scrawny)?

So I gave it a shot.  Not that there aren't any hills getting to OO from the south, but things really start climbing after that, and yet I gave it a go.  Things are a little blurry at this point.  My legs were starting to hurt, but the mile posts kept clicking by.  I remember passing 10 miles to go (my longest run in 8 years).  I wasn't scared.  I remember passing 6 miles to go and I wasn't scared.  At three to go I was.  I was on track to break 4.  Not quite on track to set a PR.  But my legs HURT.  That last 5k was really tough.



But I managed to pull it off and finished with 3:59:05.  I negative split that bad boy by 9 minutes.  I completely destroyed all of my goals.  I was blown away.  What would have happened if I had actually trained properly for this?  What was wrong with me at 19?

In all it was a great race.  36 hours later and I can walk fairly normally though I'm still cringing at the stairs and I've got some solid aches and pains.  I'm definitely already thinking about doing this again next year.

I've got this coming weekend off and then it is the Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 (you are doing that right?).  Then, ski season.  Only 152 days until the Birkie!

2013 Birkie Trail Run Recap

Notice the Woolly T-Shirt sported by Mullin, and the tandem beers, that guy was on FIRE Saturday!
Here's our intrepid team at the end of the 11th annual Birkie Trail Run at Telemark.  This was my first time doing this race, and I think it's something to circle on the calendar.  To put it simply, it was a great day.  But I've pretty much come to expect that every time I find myself huffing and puffing out on the Birkie Trail.  As Eric Olson put it, the Birkie Trail is the 8th wonder of the world...no exaggeration.  By the way, this race was marathon number 49 for Eric, and he's on his way to do the Tahoe Triple next Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  That's three full length marathons in three days I'm looking forward to hearing the report on that death march!

Our adventure started at Two Lakes campground just north of Telemark.  I'm almost hesitant to write about how awesome that campground was because I'd kind of like to keep it a secret.  However, it's so far out there that I don't think it's ever going to be overrun with visitors.  Folks, this campground has something like 90 sites and just about every one of them has a view of a lake.  Driving through it, Mullin couldn't contain himself.  The place was awesome and I'm thinking we might have to plan one last Cyclova weekend up in Cable for some camping, biking, and rollerskiing.  
Micah checks out the campsite, I kept hanging myself on that hook just to be funny
Yes, we got to sleep in a camper and we woke in the morning to 45 degrees and a slight drizzle.  Although we were kind of grumbling about it at the time, it turned out we'd have an absolutely perfect day for marathon running.  Still, on the bus down there we thought that drizzle might turn into a downpour and wash us out...didn't happen (you always worry before an event...although I'm finding I'm worrying less about things lately, probably because I'm pretty much prepared for ANYTHING!).

Our game plan was to do the event slowly. We all felt we were under trained.  We were going to walk the uphills (because they are too steep), walk the downhills (because you can fall and hurt yourself on those), and run the flats (but there aren't any flats on the Birke trail).  It was an airtight plan.  We were planning on six hours.  Fortunately we'd brought Eric Olson along so that we'd have something to listen to for all that time.  The starting gun went off:
Photo courtesy of American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation
Here's the point where Mullin took advantage of a quick backwards look on my part to sprint all the way to Telemark.  Yes...that is the starting line flag in the background on the left.  Rather than run it in 6 hours, Mullin finished in under 4, nearing his personal best on a marathon course that is not designed to give you a PR.  In fact, Eric and I both finished with PW's (personal worsts), but hey, the miles didn't go fast but the time did and that's all you can hope for.

Well...unlike some OTHER people (Seth, Ben...I'm looking at you), Eric and I stuck to plan and walk/ran the whole thing.  As a result we finished fresh as daisies and ready to go dancing (we didn't though...at least I didn't, Eric might have).  Sure, we were over 6 hours, but 6 hours on the Birkie trail is like spending 6 hours in Narnia.  The other cool thing is that you pretty much run right from summer into fall during the course of this marathon, it's downright BEAUTIFUL out there.

The positive side about having fast friends to do events with you is that they're waiting with beer for you at the end:

Words cannot describe the joy I felt as 10th overall finisher Tony Lushanko came running up to me with a Leinenkugel's to get me through the last 100 yards (next time meet me at mile 20 Tony).  I was tempted to dump the thing over my head to wash the sweat from my eyes, but instead I drank it. 

We then settled down to a massive feast.  Seriously, the Birkie Trail run provides a great spread of barbecue chicken sandwiches, potato salad, pasta salad, and chocolate chip cookies.  It was the best meal at the end of any marathon ever.

After that I went to pick up my Birkie Warrior jacket.  Mine was the last one in the box.  "I see you're the last Birkie Warrior to come in here, so you don't get a size choice, next time run a little harder," the lady handing out the jackets said.  Fortunately the jacket was the right size.  She seemed a little hard on a guy who had just earned a Birkie WARRIOR jacket.  I mean they don't hand those out to Powder puffs now do they?  They only reason I was slow during the run was because I stopped to do a thousand pull-ups.
The beer is in focus and the medal isn't...you can see where my mind was
All in all it was a great day.  That course is challenging, but the purpose of it is to get out of the routine of your daily, stressful life and give your mind a break from worry (so you can think about survival instead).  Mission accomplished!  After a marathon you're physically exhausted but you're mentally rejuvenated and ready to face the future.  Eric and I aren't good for each other's final times (we waste too much energy talking and laughing), but it makes for a great day that flies by!  Next year we might just have to schedule four or five events like this...then again, the Birkie Trail marathon is in a class all its own, as with pretty much anything Birkie.

The course is hard, but if you go with friends with some good stories the Birkie Marathon can be the catalyst for a tremendous day.  I hope to see a few more of you guys up there for this next year!

Google Directions to CyclovaXC's New Location

This picture was taken last weekend so the new shop space already looks significantly different.  Every day brings massive changes as we move into our new location, and this is a really fun and exciting time.  I would like to draw your attention to the Stone Grinder sitting happily in its new home in the background of this image.  Frank got that bad boy moved with the help of some of our great customers and friends in St. Croix and that is a huge relief (here's the epic story about the last time we moved it--it's the day the Warlock got his nickname by the way).

A couple people have been asking where the new store is in relation to the Old store, and that's pretty vital information, which is why I'm writing this post.  The new address is: 112 N Washington St., St. Croix Falls, WI 54024. Here's the google directions for how to get there:

I love how it tells you to drive for 5 seconds or walk for 39 seconds.  You gotta love Google precision...it takes 39 seconds to walk to our new shop...not 38...not 40...39!

Here's the Google map (which looks like more than a 39 second walk if you ask me...):
:
View Larger Map
Again, we're right between The Winery and Pizza Man in the spot that used to be occupied by Video Vault.  The place is looking good and we're going to have our grand re-opening on September 25th!  Hope to see you all there!
This is a status update...I'll be looking forward to taking a picture in a week to show how much different it looks!

The Birkie Trail Marathon Is Happening this Saturday!

Well, it's finally upon us!

A couple of us went ahead and signed up for the Birkie Trail marathon.  Things like this always seem like a good thing to do when the event is still six weeks away...but when they're only two nights away you start going into gut check mode.

Geeeze...42 k on the Birkie trail?  Have you SEEN the hills out there?

Well, some of you have, some of you saw them last weekend in fact at the Fat Tire Festival!  They're BRUTAL!

Still, I think we'll be OK, the Sasquatch 25K got us good and ready for this event, and we have a nice, early 8 AM start time to begin this race.  Heck...if it takes us all day, so be it.

I have it on good authority (Eric Olson) that the food at the end of the Birkie Trail marathon is the best spread of any marathon anywhere.  I'll be looking forward to that.

If any of you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, it sounds like Hayward is really jumping.  In addition to the Birkie Trail marathon, there's also the Chequamegon 100 (we've got some of our fanatical racers participating in that as well).  If you just want to come up and spectate, you'd be more than welcome as well.  Grab your cowbell!  Here's some important race information about the Birkie Trail Marathon.  And here's the course map.  Anyone hanging out at "OO" with beer to hand off would earn my eternal gratitude!  Also, we'll be camping Friday at Two Lakes Campground...see you on the trails!

Cheers folks and have a great weekend!

Cheq Fat Tire 40 2013

I can't recall a time I experienced such angst over an event. Leading up to my first Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 I was fighting the biggest mental game of my life. A month before the event I made the mistake of riding without proper nutrition and hydration in 90 degree heat. This led to what I can only describe as a three week long bout of heat exhaustion, stomach flu and dehydration. I lost twelve pounds and could barely walk around my house, let alone ride my bike. I got back on the bike only ten days before the event and did some training rides in Big Rock Creek, which didn't instill confidence. I was cashed after five mile rides in the valley. I nearly called it quits several times prior to the race but decided I wanted my $100 t-shirt badly enough that I was going! And the guilt of having the coveted race entry that other riders had not gotten in the lottery compelled me to ride.

My Chequamegon story begins on Friday. I carb loaded on deep dish pizza from Dominoes on our three hour ride north to Hayward. My appetite that day was great! I couldn't put enough down the hatch to quell my metabolism. Our family stays at the Hayward KOA every year with our "Bike Family" from Penn Cycle and Cyclova XC. The KOA folks put on a spaghetti feed Friday night for the cyclists- which is basically everyone in the campground! I feasted again on a heaping pile of spaghetti, meatballs, and bread. A group of us carpooled up to Telemark in Cable, Wisconsin that evening to pick up our race packets. I stood inside the Trek Project One demo truck and drooled over the custom color frames- florescent, neon, frosted... black stanchions inside white suspension... Oh, how I coveted those beauties.



Trek Project One Display


Returning to camp around nine that night, I thought I could barely keep my eyes open and decided to call it a night and wake rested. Ha! As if I was going to sleep a wink that night! My race jitters were kicking in by midnight as I laid in bed trying to shut off my brain. I did sleep for a few solid hours in the wee morning hours between four and seven.

I woke up with a lump in my throat as I wrestled with my brain that wanted to convince me to quit before I started it. I was scared to DEATH that I was going to bonk and get sick again during the race and spend another month recovering. I tried to eat a banana but after one bite I was gagging so hard I started crying. I knew I had eaten enough the night before to carry me and decided to get dressed and start moving around to keep distracted. I was riding my Trek X-Caliber, with 29-1 EXP Bontrager tires. My pump gauge malfunctioned that morning so I had nothing but a "pinch test" to determine pressure. I figure I was running about 40-45 lbs. I kitted up in my Cyclova XC gear from Mt Borah which has a superbly smooth chamois that has held up for hundreds of miles in the saddle. It was 35 degrees that morning so I wore my Cyclova XC windbreaker for pre-race warm up- a perfect choice.

My friend Dennis forced me to suck down a Gu Roctane at 9 a.m. before we pedaled the 3 miles from our campground into Hayward for the start. It felt good to be moving and the ride in was enjoyable with funny stories and banter from the seven veterans I rode with. About halfway into Hayward I realized I had left my spare tube, tire levers, and multi-tool in our cabin. Well... maybe my subconscious was trying to give me an easy out if I flatted or had mechanical error. No going back now. I said a prayer. The temperature in Hayward was already warming and we tied our jackets up in a drop bag. This being my first year, I was in Gate 7- the very back. I had two other friends with me that were seasoned Cheq vets. As we inched our way to the front 1/3 of the gate, they offered advice and encouragement. The most valuable piece of information was to avoid crashing on the highway. People get all jazzed up on the pavement leading to Rosie's Field and every year cyclists end up in a tangled mess.

Five minutes to start. I could barely stand it. My buddy Pat and I exchanged a high-five. The National Anthem was sung and the roar of the crowd gave me goosebumps. The gun... we were rolling. I cautiously followed the masses and avoided wheels, leaving a bubble around me for safety. The noise on main street was deafening, people blowing horns, shaking cowbells, and screaming for the riders! As we rounded the corner to the highway I saw the guy changing a flat. You know, that guy that you see at every race changing a flat a half-mile after the start. Glad it wasn't me. Two miles into the race I saw the guy that crashed- the guy that undoubtedly got hung up on a wheel and face planted on the highway. The medical crew was calling in a helicopter for him as I passed. I said another prayer. My nerves were still running the show and I knew I had to pedal until I couldn't feel them anymore. Riders were ripping past me on the highway and I feared I would be left behind, but also feared I would burn up if I attempted to keep that pace. My game plan was to ride with caution and to finish.

We arrived at the first section of Birkie trail and riders were jammed up, fighting to climb the hill to Rosie's Field. I cautiously stayed to the far left and avoided getting boxed in. Handlebar to handlebar, wheel to wheel we clawed our way up. We spread out in the field and I was encouraged by familiar faces of spectators. Another rider was down and the pack split in two, like a school of fish, merging on the other side. From here we began the rolling up and down of the Birkie hills. I tried to work the downward momentum to carry myself up the proceeding ascents but we were still too tight to ride free, I had to get over to the side and ride thicker, grassy sections to pass slower riders. At mile 4 I felt my stomach cramp up and the pain caused me to stop and get off the bike. In that moment I thought, "This is it. I'm getting sick again. I am quitting at mile 4, only 1/10 of the race in. Ugh." But then I remembered I only had a Gu Roctane in my gut and we racers all know how that can wreak havoc if not diluted a little. I drank some water and decided to press on. Much to my delight I felt better. I began to enjoy the ride. I was diligent to avoid rocks hidden along the path, still nervous I would get a pinch flat or sidewall tear.

At mile 7 I realized I had lost a bottle of electrolytes, probably on one of the many rough descents. This caused more alarm, as I now only carried about 10 oz of water and had no idea when the next aid station would appear. As the hills rolled I stood in the saddle and slid my weight back while flying down, down, down. I visualized being "one with the bike" to lessen the impact of rocks, roots, washboard and gopher holes. Like a white tail deer, "Cali" and I floated over debris. By mile 12 I realized the miles were ticking away and I wasn't even thinking thoughts, my body just moved. It occurred to me that I had found an energy and power inside of me that I hadn't felt in over a month. I was busting past other riders on climbs- riders I never saw again! Up, down, grass, rocks, sand, up, up, down.

Mile 17 had an aid station and I forced half of a banana down without nearly as much drama as earlier that morning. I drank two Gu Brews and filled my single water bottle up. I left feeling strong. We were still on Birkie trails and ahead of me was a massive descent, a wicked washboard from one side to the other. I was approaching 33 miles per hour when I felt my last water bottle jump out of its cage and hit my calf! Thankfully my pedal stroke was just right at that moment and my leg slammed it back in place. Close call! But I reined in a little to avoid losing my last hydration. Soon after, we reached a fire lane. The first section was quite boggy with sand but eventually firmed up and I was able to give her grief in there to make up for lost time.

Mile 20. Half way. Still feeling ok. The pedals spun. I would see bottles of electrolytes laying on the trail, rattled loose from cages, and wondered if I should pick one up. I recounted tales of Walter Rhein from Beyond Birkie Fever as he bonked at a marathon and picked up used Gu packets to suckle nutrients from. Picking up a used water bottle isn't as bad, right? I didn't do it! I had enough water for now and I figured I would see more bottles along the course if I was desperate enough. Mile 27 appeared quickly and we were given aid and a cautionary description of the approaching Seely Fire Tower Hill. But even that couldn't get me down. I knew I only had 13 miles left and the beast within me was roaring. I was going to finish.




I was still surprised with my level of energy, having come out of a 3 week period of convalescence. It's a strange phenomenon. Perspective is the ultimate decision maker of your success. I was telling myself I was strong and I was visualizing the competitive beast inside of me that wakes up after 20 miles of labor. Fire Tower Hill came, I clawed my way up, and it was over. The stories of horror I had heard seemed exaggerated as I looked at this hill and thought, "Is this really it?" Don't get me wrong- it's a bugger, but when you know that it's the last great obstacle, you hunker down and you get 'er done!

False Summit of Seely Fire Tower Hill

                                                                Double the Fun

After Fire Tower we had about 8 miles left. We were once again back on the Birkie trails and the climbs loomed as our heavy legs suffered cramps. A dark cloud settled over me as I pushed my bike up a hill and felt my feet tripping over rocks. A rider wearing blue jeans came up alongside me and encouraged, "It's only a few more hills then some fast downhills on gravel." The words banished my cloud. I can do this- if that crazy man wearing jeans and riding a single-speed can do this, so can I! Two climbs later I saw the gravel. I started down the road, which was not so much gravel as rocks- very technical, rough rock, but it was downhill so all I had to do was stay upright. "Picking your line," or choosing the path of least resistance, is merely coincidence when you are gaining momentum on those downhills, everything is blurred. I just hoped and prayed I wasn't moments from a flat. My limbs rattled and I felt twinges of nerve pain in my shoulders after 30 miles of shock absorption. It smoothed out after a bit and I was once again gaining speed. My iPod started playing "Bleeding Out" by Imagine Dragons and the percussion began to pound inside me. I was tearing down the road at 27 miles per hour, made a 90 degree left hand turn that spit rocks, and hammered towards the final 2 miles.

The last section turned back onto double track with sandy, rocky climbs and debris from loggers. It looked like the Apocalypse in there. The ground showed evidence of bicycle destruction, chains lay in the dirt, tubes littered the trail, I even saw a wheel skewer. I prayed my own demise wouldn't come at mile 38 1/2. I could barely haul the bike up the terrain but knowing I was so close gave a sense of security. I could almost hear the announcer, the crowd roaring, smell the food, and was that the clanging of a cowbell in the distance?

I saw the sign. 1/2 mile remaining. The trail dropped and I ripped through prairie grass, breathing the sand that spun off my front tire. I saw the chute. I heard the cowbells. I pushed harder. I saw my husband hanging over the fence screaming my name! I smiled from ear to ear! The announcer called out my name as I hit the sensor. I DID IT! Tears rolled down my face- not of pain, but of triumph. Another woman I had ridden along side for portions of the race finished just behind me and we embraced. We shared a special bond in that moment. We conquered.

I have to give thanks to the many fellow cyclists that gave words of wisdom before and during the race. I might not have given Cheq 40 a chance this year if I hadn't been given such a detailed account of the course by Duane Lee at Cyclova XC, or the reminder that you pay the race entry because it is a civilized event with support and aid- thanks Ben Jonjak, the encouragement of Dennis Porter, Pat Sorenson, and Charlie P. And of course my husband, Keith Velaski, who believed in me the whole time.

post race photo

My Chequamegon story ends with Saturday night's feast in the pavilion at the KOA. Good friends regaling one another with tales of their personal journey by bike that day, great food, and much laughter and love! Like Minded- Bike Minded! By far, my favorite event of the year.  (For those considering adding Cheq to their list of accomplishments- DO IT! And ride Big Rock Creek to train for the event, it truly has every feature the Birkie Trails boast.)

~Kristen Velaski

Root Beer Float Ride on Gandy Dancer Trail--Sat. Sept. 28th

Hey Folks!

Check this event out, the Tour de Pumpkin featuring ROOT BEER FLOATS!  Seriously, that's the best idea I've heard since the bacon ride!  Root Beer floats are the exact type of thing that at the end of your life you say, "I would have done everything the same...except I should have drunk more root beer floats."  Seriously, root beer floats are awesome, but it's not something you actually think to sit down and make often enough.  Well...this ride will help you catch up on your lifetime root beer float quota!

It's Saturday Sept. 28th. with 20, 10 and 4 mile options.  The first event starts at 9:15 AM.  For more details and to register click here.

Also, take note that this event takes place on the critical portion of the Gandy dancer that they threaten to open up to 4 wheelers every year.  I don't have anything against 4 wheelers, but it's awesome to have the Gandy dancer be bicycle only.  It would be great to have a massive number of people come out for this ride to show the local public that yes, the Gandy dancer trail gets a TON of use from the cycling crowd!

Here's a larger version of their flyer (click to enlarge) in case you need some more information, hope to see you out there!


Good Luck Fat Tire Riders!!!


More Sasquatch 25k photos!


Ok, this should work but I'm not 100% sure it's going to. Above there should be a box featuring images that my wife took at the Sasquatch Dash. Google Picassa used to have a great feature which made this possible, but when they upgraded to Google+ they inexplicably deleted that feature. My guess is that if you're reading this as an email and not in the CyclovaXC web page, you won't see the slideshow either. The good news is that you should be able to click on any link and enlarge it. The bad news is what I mentioned above. Let me know if it works out. ....doesn't it always seem like in the past things were easier/simpler?

Sasquatch 25K Race Report



As promised, here is my personal race report from Saturday's 25K at BRCF.

My longest run in preparation for the race was 10.2 miles.  My average weekly running distance in the 16 weeks leading up was a whopping 21 miles.  I was clearly ready for this race.  Or not.  Actually my total training volume has probably been the highest since high school, but running has been sharing training time with the bike.  I had no doubt in my mind I could handle the distance, it was going to be a question of how destroyed my legs were going to be when I got done.

Race morning brought a decent level of humidity.  Riding out to the water stops in the Ranger it felt pretty cool at 20mph.  I knew that at 9:00/miles (hopefully) it was not going to feel cool.

We had a good crowd on hand with some new faces so I was excited to race.  This really was down to a race for second in the overall series for me though.  If my math was correct all I had to do was finish within one place of Dallas to hold on to second place (provided he placed no higher than 2nd).  That really was the the A goal, the B goal was of course to just plain beat him too.

The gun went off (actually a gun this time) and we headed east into the rising sun following the very gently climbing valley floor.  Series winner and one of the new faces Steve took off in a hurry.  By the time we reached the first real climb at the east end of the property they were gone, never to be seen again.  After a relatively quick first two miles averaging just over 8:00, Dallas, Jeff and I formed a little group and started into the hills.

Our group of three hung together for the next seven miles.  We had a good conversational pace going and power walked the big hills.  It was great company to keep for the first hour and a half of the race.

Somewhere around the top of the major climb to the top of the south property line Jeff tailed off the back of our little group.  We later learned that he came down with the worst case of calf cramps I've ever heard of and limped it in over the next 6 miles resorting to all methods of stretching, walking, and hobbling to get over the hills.

Continuing on without him, Dallas and I tackled the remaining hills on the south property line before reaching the trail merge and water stop.  A quick stop to drink and dump a small cup over my head and we started off again.

This is where the "race" started.  And it started with me asking Dallas if he was "ready to race".  He said something to the effect of "no, you go for it".  We shook hands and I took off thinking I only had about five miles to go and thinking I had enough left to attack it a little bit.

This is where Dallas decided to play it tactically and not actually let me go.  He gave me about a 30m gap and then tailed me.  I was determined not to look back, but I could hear his footsteps following me.  I'd try to pull away a little on the uphills pushing my heart rate to the highest it had been all morning and yet I could hear him crashing down the next hill not far behind me.

His strategy was working and I ran up hills we had walked up before and I was really getting gassed.  I did finally stop hearing his footsteps and backed off on the hills a little bit more.

And then I bonked.  The last major climb at about mile 13.5 I came completely unglued and it wasn't even a power walk to the top.  It was a semi-wobbly walk to the top.  The next two miles were a LONG ways.  I managed to get it rolling again and used the hill down to the final water stop at the screenporch and continued on down to the valley floor.  There is a slight uphill at the bottom before you reach the road and it was hard.

Once on the road the sun was high enough that there was minimal shade and I was cooking.  Despite the good footing and net elevation loss and the fear of being caught by Dallas I could just barely manage a 9:00 mile.  At the artesian well with less than half a mile to go I had to stop and pour water on my head.

In the end I managed to drag my way to the finish about 40 seconds ahead of Dallas.  He said he could see me on the straights in the last mile but just couldn't close.  Thank goodness.  What a great race and good competitors.  My legs actually never gave out on me and I was only a little sore the next day.

On the 21st some guy (Ben Jonjak) got me to sign up for the Birkie Trail marathon.  At the finish of this the thought of running another 10.7 miles was pretty much not possible.  That run is going to be even harder though I'm going to take it even easier.  You should come join our party.

Sasquatch 25K Finale Results



Hey folks, I'm being my own worst race directory here by not getting the results out in a timely manner.  Who hired this guy anyhow?

Before I get to the results I want to give a few shout outs to everyone who helped make this race and the whole series a success.

  1. Dallas Wynne.  This thing was his baby and he made it happen.  Series conception, course design, course marking, race organization, series setup, waiver selection, etc.  You name it, he got it done.
  2. Ben and Frank and CyclovaXC.  These guys have helped solidify such an incredible community in the St. Croix Falls area.  They certainly brought me into the community and by lending their name to the race series helped make it a success.
  3. Scott and BRCF.  BRCF is such a treasure for the valley and Scott has helped make our access to the incredible trails and beauty of BRCF a reality.  Scott had the trails in incredible shape, had the Squatch sign, and has great ideas to make next year even bigger and better.
  4. Jeff Wolf.  Jeff lent the Ranger, helped mark the course, and brought the official CyclovaXC party bus BOB (big orange bus).  Where ever you are going, don't leave home without Jeff Wolf.
  5. The bike support and cheer team.  Since I can't name everyone I'll refrain from naming anyone, but all of the support the runners had on course and at the finish line for the big finale was incredible and made for an even better day.
  6. The runners.  Hey, what kind of a race would it be without participants?  Thanks to everyone who came to the finale or any series race this year.
  7. SportTracks.  SportTracks stepped up and sponsored the finale with a years subscription to SportTracks.mobi for the top series finishers.
OK, OK, on to the results.  Unfortunately we still had a few navigational errors.  I used my discretion to place finishers rather than just a straight DQ.  Don't like it?  Take it up with Squatch.  No seriously guys, this is for fun, not fame or money.

Alright on the HeSquatch side of things:

And the SheSquatch side:

Despite tracking HeSquatch and SheSquatch separately you should take a quick glance at where these ladies placed overall by time.  Solid!

Alright, on to what everyone really wants to know, the series totals.  Remember the rules.  The finale is worth double points and you get to take your top 5 scores.  Get out your cheater glasses, this might be hard to read:

As you can see, Alex finished his dominance in dominating fashion winning every race he showed up to and securing the overall title by a wide margin.  Dallas and I duked it out to the end and it could have gone either way at the finale.  From there on out it was a battle royale for the next few spots.  What a great way to finish it out gentlemen.

And the SheSquatch Overall:

On the SheSquatch side the nature of the double points and the low turn-out for the series resulted in the finale winner taking the overall win and second place at the finale tying for third overall.

So a big congratulations to our top three finishers on each side:  Alex Anderson, Ben Mullin, Dallas Wynne, Karen Manske, Amy Klien, and Lisa Thanig and Deb Proctor.  As the series winners you (I?) all receive a subscription to SportTracks.mobi.  As I already have a subscription that makes it easy to deal with the tie on the SheSquatch side and I will defer mine.  If you did not receive your card at the finale either get in touch at the shop or we will track you down (I'm looking at you Amy and Lisa).

Here are the series winners (minus Amy and Lisa) with Sasquatch:

Deb and Karen:

Alex:

As I have done with all of the previous races I will share a personal race report, but not quite yet.  I will just close saying again that this series has been an absolute blast to be a part of and I am already excited about doing it again next year.

Oh, and speaking of SportTracks.mobi, as a peak of what it can do, here is a link to my results on SportTracks.mobi

Sasquatch Spotted at Big Rock Creek!

Sasquatch Pose Pre-Race
We had a blast at the first annual Sasquatch Dash 25k at Big Rock Creek on Saturday.  There were a ton of runners and a ton of support people on bicycles helping us trot over the MASSIVE hills of Big Rock Creek.  Heck, we even saw a live Sasquatch frolicking in the sun about 1 mile into the event.

You can jump on the CyclovaXC facebook page for more photos.  Here's a quick photo set that my wife took.
Some of the support crew heads out, go Keith and Kristen!
Alex dominated our first Sasquatch Dash Series...scratch that guy's name in a stone wall somewhere!

NONE SHALL PASS!!!

My sentiments exactly!
Leske airborn
Eddy gets a drink
Our head referee sees no issues
Neither does our other head referee
The first two women finishers

Campion lookin' strong
Kending and Jonjak representing Spooner class of '93...or was that '03 I forget...
Ben will be putting up a more official post later. In the meantime, feel free to share your Sasquatch photos either with me (bj@cyclovaxc.com) or on Facebook!  This was an awesome day folks...I can't stress it enough.  In fact, it was so awesome that I am so exhausted I barely have the strength to type!  I'm out, talk to you soon!