Women's Bike Maintenance & Safety Night- Thurs. May 21 @ 6 PM

"Like Minded, Bike Minded." Cyclova XC Women's Ride at Big Rock Creek Retreat 2014. Photo Credit: Starr T.


Join us for a fun night with local women that love to ride bike! Female cyclists of all levels of experience and enthusiasm welcome!

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 @ 6 PM at Cyclova XC:



Flat tires & broken chains happen. But have no fear, with a few basic tools and simple repair steps, you can head out on a ride with confidence! 


Frank Lundeen, co-founder of Cyclova XC, will demonstrate The ABC's of Bicycle Maintenance (Air, Brakes, Chain).  Frank's easy-to-master approach will equip you with the skills to become self-sufficient on your ride. Learn how to fix a flat tire or a broken chain, care for your components, and perform a safety check before riding. 

Wendi Lindenmuth, founder of Locally Geared and Ambassador for Wisconsin Bike Federation, will be present to share safety and general bicycling information for riders. 


There will be plenty of time for fun socializing and Q & A! And as always, this is a FREE event- open to all women, so bring a friend!


Don't let a breakdown stop you. Empower yourself with the skills to repair it! Photo Credit: Ben Mullin

State Trail Passes Available 24/7 at Six Polk County Locations


From the Polk County Tourism Council

POLK COUNTY—Wisconsin State trail passes, required for bicycle riders 16 years of age and older on Polk County’s two state bike trails, the Gandy Dancer and the Stower 7 Lakes, are available at six self-registration locations on the trails.

On the Gandy Dancer trail, a self-registration box is located in Frederic by the 1901 Soo Line Depot, and new for 2015, at the Polk County Information Center in St. Croix Falls.

The Stower 7 Lakes trail has 4 locations, in Amery, Wanderoos, Deronda, and Nye.

Passes are sold at many area businesses and attractions, but the self-registration boxes provide an option when those locations are not open.

Polk County receives around $10,000 a year from trail pass sales, resulting in around $250 a mile for maintenance on the two trails.

Wisconsin is celebrating 50 years of rails to trails this summer, and what would be a better way to celebrate than to take a bike tour on some of the state trails that started 50 years ago with the Elroy/Sparta Trail?

State trail passes are $4 for a daily pass and $20 for an annual pass. They are good on all Wisconsin State trails that require passes, and expire on Dec. 31 of each year.

--Polk County Tourism Council


Mullin's Chippewa 50k Race Report

Subtitle: How to fake training for a 50k trail run, an essay in two words

You can't.

Prep

Unlike last year with the really late snow season and continued skiing which resulted in a DNS for the Chippewa 50k, this years crappy snow season left me with what should have been plenty of time to run.

In reality, while I was putting in some pretty decent base hours of easy aerobic exercise, I was riding my bike more and running less.  I did manage to get my weekly running total up to 50k total once.  I had two long runs of 25k each.


Obviously the week before was dominated by the Mammoth Gravel Classic 100.  The week leading in was an easy run and a couple of easy bike rides.

I was reasonably confident in my ability to aerobically manage 31 miles of work.  I was reasonably concerned that my legs may fall off though.

Morning Of

Eric Olson offered to drive so Starr and I met up with Eric and Jim Thanig in SCF at the unholy hour of 5:50.  I had sort of planned to sleep on the ride down.  What made me think I could sleep with Eric's storytelling I'm not sure.  Seriously though, the ride and company were great.

We brought hot water in a thermos and oatmeal in Tupperware containers to eat on the way.  Eating at 5:00 before we left the house was too long before the start.  We rolled into the trail center shortly after 7:00, got a sweet parking spot on top of the hill and were all bib-picked up, restroomed, and drop bag dropped with plenty of time until the start.

Gear

The forecast was looking a little tough.  I like it cooler when running, but the start time forecast was for low 30's with a high in the upper 50's.  Probably too cold for shorts and short sleeves at the start, way too warm for tights and long sleeves by the turn-around.  Thankfully, it was more like 40 at the start which IS shorts weather.  Shorts, my CyclovaXC tech t, arm warmers, my Birkie Trail Marathon hat, and some stretchy gloves.  I ended up ditching the hat and gloves at mile 2 as we passed the trail center and was comfortable to warm the rest of the day after pulling the arm warmers down to my wrists by mile 5.

I also carried a handheld bottle with three gu packets and a pack of shot blocks.  That should have been plenty to get to the turn around and the drop bag with water refills along the way.  I also had my New Balance belt with my phone in it.  I used it to do LiveTracking with my Garmin 920xt.

Brooks Cascaida shoes, some C9 socks, tape on my nipples, and some Body Glide applied strategically and I had everything I needed.

My drop bag was a random giveaway drawstring bag that you see the kids carrying these days.  I put another handful of gu packets, another pair of socks just in case the ones I had on were causing issues, some other food stuffs, and the body glide.  Per the instructions from the event director, the bag should be proportional to the race distance.  This wasn't a 100-miler, I wasn't going to need much.

The Race

The Start: Photo Credit Marcus Taintor
With only 31 miles to cover, I started out fast.  Or maybe not.  My strategy was to keep my HR at 155 or below.  This meant running "flats" and downhills, but hiking just about anything that pitched up.  There would be plenty of hiking to do.  I wasn't too sure about any time goals.  This really was for completion.  5 hours and 10 minutes was a 10 minute mile though and that didn't seem out of reason.

I set my watch to lap every 5k and put the screen on HR and just plugged away.  I saw a few superman dives in the first few miles.  It was hard to keep your eyes on the trail with the beauty of the area.  Seeing a few people take a tumble kept you honest.

My first 5k was a blazing 32:31.  So, a 5:10 seemed unlikely unless I was warming into this thing and was going to negative split.  That seemed unlikely.  But I stuck to my guns and just ran by effort.  There was plenty of company through the second aid station at about 15k though I kept to myself.

Leaving the aid station I was right behind a guy I thought I recognized so I introduced myself to Richard Bjork.  After several minutes of not figuring out our connection it turns out he is from Chisago so I must have just seen him around.  In anycase, Richard is a very accomplished ultra runner and I had a great time visiting with him all the way to the turn around.  I learned a few things from him along the way and certainly appreciated it.
We were still about 4k out from the turn around when the leaders came going the other way.  It gets tough letting them by.  They have the right of way so you have to step aside.  It takes a little bit to pick a good spot and judge timing to make it work.  The trail was also a lot of bench cut along here which made it hard to get a good spot to pull over.  It all worked out though and I don't think I impeded anyone and I didn't have any issues on my return trip.  I counted roughly 50th place when I made the turn-around.

It was starting to get pretty warm at the turn around and the prediction for mostly cloudy was not panning out.  I refilled my bottle, took a Gatorade and another cup of water.  I refilled my stash of gus and reapplied some Body Glide quick.  As best I can tell from my GPS data I was there for a hair over 2 minutes.

I was still with Richard and another guy as we headed back.  Note at this point this was my longest run of the year.  With the heat and I think a slight injection of effort from Richard and the other guy who were chatting up a storm, my effort was exceeding my predefined threshold.  I thought about trying to hold on for as long as I could, but then my gut started talking to me after about 50 minutes.
After the Gandy marathon last year I had a week of pretty serious GI issues.  I really didn't want that again.  Really didn't want it.  So, I let them go and started trying to recover.  I had 11 miles to go at this point, my legs hurt, and running on level ground was causing my HR to elevate.  I figured I was about to be passed by the masses.  I know there is a lot of carnage in the second half of this race, but I figured there were still going to be plenty of people passing me.

As it turns out, as I walked a significant portion of the next 7 miles and was only passed by maybe 10 people or so.  In fact, I had a stretch of maybe 45 minutes of absolute solitude on the trail.  I did take this opportunity to pull my phone out and start taking some pictures.  I had finally left race mode enough to take the time.  As I said, the scenery was gorgeous out.  I think some of the neatest stretch of trail was closer to the turn around so I missed that, but this was still good.
The first few miles of walking were the roughest.  My legs HURT.  My stomach was off.  Any increase in effort was a no go.  I was never in a really dark place, but I certainly wasn't having fun.  Eventually though, my legs didn't hurt quite as much.  My HR started being a little more compliant if I ran the slight downhills.  In fact, I found myself smiling and having fun again.

As the trail got back to about 5 miles to go I was starting to run a little more.  I started seriously considering how much time I had left and thinking about what my finish time was going to be.  Mental math after 5 hours of effort isn't great, but I thought 6 hours wasn't completely out of reason.  I was definitely going to have to pick things up again.  I thought if I can just hold steady to 3 miles out, I can go "hard" for those last three and I probably wouldn't do too much damage.

I hit that last aid station after 5:22 on the trail.  Miraculously I also caught someone just coming into it, and found someone plopping down on a chair there.  Great!  Two people who felt worse than me!  I got a quick half bottle refill from a volunteer and took off down the trail at a sprint like this was a 5k race with a 45k warm-up.  If my 5k pace was 10:00 a mile, that is.  I found yet another person just down the trail and passed them.  Note, these are the first people I've passed since about mile 16 of the race and we are now at mile 27ish.
I knew there were three absolute buggers of hills to come.  I had to get to them and do what I could to get up them as fast as possible.  Just before the first big one that takes you up within spitting distance of the finish line (but still 2 miles of trail to go) another runner passed me.  We quickly exchanged remarks about the 6 hour possibility.  I told him I thought he was moving well and had it, but I was quickly losing enthusiasm for my possibility.

After cresting that hill and hitting the 2 mile to go marker I had just over 21 minutes to make it to the finish and break 6 hours.  And two monster hills.  I took off bombing down the hill after the other guy.  I made it less than half a mile before I had to walk again.  I kept alternating where I could.  Climbing the second to last hill approaching the 1 mile to go marker I could see I was gaining on two more guys.  As I crested that second to last hill I passed one of the guys and coming down past the 1 mile to go marker I caught the other one.  I had 10 minutes and 15 seconds.  Maybe?

That last mile is all down hill, some even on pavement, right up until the last 0.2 miles which includes a monster 110 foot climb.  That climb is pretty relentless with pitches near 20%.  I had just run the longest stretch I had run since... I don't even know.  I hit the bottom with 2:40 to make it to the line.  I was going to run that whole damn thing.
I made it about 50 yards.  I thought I was going to puke.  I resigned myself to missing the arbitrary 6 hour mark and started power walking.  But, I was still close.  As I was nearing the top, I still had a chance!  As it flattened out for the final 100 yard dash across the top I still had 25 seconds.  Sprint!

I've collapsed at plenty of 5k lines after having gone redline for 20ish minutes.  I've stumbled over and found a nearby curb or piece of grass after some half and full marathons.  This was the first time I've collapsed in the finishing chute of a long race.  But after a sub 10 minute mile and a near 7 minute mile sprint I was done.

The longest 6 hours (5:59:57 officially, 55th place) of my life.

Post Race

We hung around for all of the CyclovaXC peeps to finish.  Strong finishes all around for Jim, Starr, Jason, Eric, and Ben.  I heard a couple of favorable comments on the trail for the strong Orange presence.  Then more kudos as Jason, Eric, and Ben all crossed the line in style with a Lienie.

It was a good day, and I'm actually pretty proud to say I'm now an ultra marathoner.  Am I ready to sign up for a 100 miler now?  Hell no.  Those guys are still crazy.  I do feel the ground under my feet tilting in that direction though.

Up next?  Learning to walk again.  Ouch.  Otherwise, the Birkie is in 300 days, so training starts in earnest.  Along the way is Almanzo and the Sasquatch Dashes start on May 30th.

2015 Chippewa 50K Race Report

Yesterday was the Chippewa 50k which I keep thinking is just hysterically funny to sign up for and attempt to finish. As I get older and more senile, it's easier to convince myself that I'm in better shape than the previous year. There's nothing like attempting to run 31 miles to let you know where your fitness really is.

I'm thinking they should change the name of this race to the Chippewa Ahzzz Kikkrrr, although I'm the only one who seems to get totally destroyed by this race. Next year maybe I'll just invite all my friends to beat me up in the parking lot behind Cyclova (we'd probably get a bigger turn out).

Actually, the Cyclova turn out was, for me at least, the best part of the event. Honestly, I could do without the actual race, the best part is just meeting up with your friends and sharing the day. We have all sorts of ability levels in our fitness club, but everybody stuck around to cheer in all our runners (I know because I was the last Cyclova person to finish). That's actually going above and beyond the call of duty, all I expect them to do is throw a cool Leinenkugel's in a bush so I can nurse myself back to health upon finishing. Having them actually open the can and hand it to me is more kindness than any exhausted marathoner deserves.
This photo features everyone by Starr (who was taking the photo). Eric T. Olson (center) was going after his 65th marathon. As always, my game plan was to start out slow, then take it easy. After that, I'd see if I could go even slower, and just hope to finish before dark.  Eric and I "ran" most of the way together. I must be closing in on about 10 marathons with Eric now, so you'd think there wouldn't be too many stories we haven't told at least once. We're getting to the point where we have to just make things up.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Last year was pretty good too, but this year there weren't even any mud stretches to speak of. It's a little easier when the trail is bone dry. I've heard racers discuss running this event when there's snow and freezing temperatures...that'd be too much for me I think.

I packed a couple turkey sandwiches and beers in my drop bag. I told Eric I had a sandwich for him at about mile 12, and he wasn't all that excited about it. But when we arrived he changed his mind. I think I've eaten as many gel packs and chews as my body can take in a lifetime--my body rejects them now. Turkey sandwiches, however, hit the spot.
The beer was actually cool, somebody was nice and put my drop bag in the shade.

I'm sure there is food in the world that kings and queens have to mortgage entire countries just to afford. However, I sincerely doubt that anything can possibly taste as good as a cold beer and a turkey sandwich at mile 15.5 of a 31 mile run. For the next five miles or so, the only thing Eric said was, "Man...that sandwich hit the spot, you were so right about that, the beer too." Other runners always get a kick out of seeing you strolling along with a can of beer in your hand (I packed out the empties in case you were wondering).

These 31 milers always start to get real around mile 20. When you're just doing a measly little marathon, you hit 20 miles and you think, "whoa...almost there, super easy now!" However, when you still have 11 miles to go it's a little harder to push through the fact that your legs are about to fall off.

With about 3 miles to go, I couldn't even keep up with Eric at a fast walk. He just drifted away from me, which was fine. We were so tired at that point we hardly had energy to talk (I know some of you don't think that's possible, but it's true).

With one mile to go, Uncle Leo was there with a cold beer hand-off. That made the last mile bearable. I trotted in, crossed the finish line in about the exact same time as last year (around 8:47), and flopped down on the ground.

The next half hour of relaxation with the team is the priceless time. Everybody was content, everybody had made it none the worse for wear. Jim, Ben, Starr, and Jason all hammered out there and it was fun to just sit and bask in the glow of knowing you didn't have to run any more that day.

You get a finisher's certificate at the 50k, but they had to run get more by the time Eric and I came in. Eric noticed they had returned with more and said, "Hey, let's go get our certificates."

"You're up already," I said, "could you grab mine?"

He did, and encouraged the guy to write the following on it:
"To[o] lazy to get his own"

Geeze..."lazy" on the day of a 31 mile run :)

All in all, a fantastic day. Beautiful weather, beautiful course, awesome people. These are the days you remember!


Mullin's MGC 100 "Race Report"


Prep

Dale Kicker asked me on Friday evening if I was racing Saturday.  I said no way.  Riding yes, racing no.  After a couple of seasons of a century ride or two, it doesn't put the fear into me like it used to.  On the contrary, I probably take it a tad too cavalier.  100 miles?  My longest ride so far is 34 miles, so this should be no biggie right?

I've been riding my new Warbird a fair bit (for me), just not a whole lot in any one shot, nor particularly hard.  Starting two days after ski season ended I put 379 miles on the new steed, mostly gravel.  My longest ride however was a 34 mile road ride.  I just needed a mere tripling of my long ride to complete the MGC 100.  Right or wrong, I wasn't at all concerned about finishing, but I knew I wasn't ready to race anything.

We enjoyed the Adventure and Tech night and good company on Friday night.  We camped out in SCF Friday night and were up and rolled downhill to CyclovaXC Saturday morning ready for an adventure.

Gear

While I knew this ride was going to feel incredibly remote, I also wasn't overly concerned as we were never going to be more than a couple of miles from residences and/or cell service.  With the later portion of the ride being littered with opportunities to refill on water and other fuel I felt comfortable going reasonably minimal.

Shiny red Warbird: Clement MSO 40mm tires, stock everything else

Custom designed/fabricated frame bag: pump, various gus, Honey Stinger Waffles (ginger snap flavor), turkey sandwich, beef jerky, small bottle of chainlube and a rag, zip ties, small first aid kit, and TP


Saddle bag: spare tube, bike multitool, patch kit, tire levers

CyclovaXC Alternate Orange kit: Phone in the back pocket, cue sheets in the back pocket, Brooks arm warmers

Garmin 920xt: 70 mile course loaded... not very helpful for the 100 mile course... so much for being a techie.  Thankfully the course markings and riding company made it pretty much fool proof.

I ate less than half the food, never used any of the tools, referenced the cue sheets once, went through 5 water bottles total.  So I carried more than I needed, but was a comfortably prepared Boy Scout.

Ride

The roll-out was cool and calm.  I almost immediately noticed my Garmin had the wrong course on it.  I let the group roll ahead a bit as I fiddled with my watch to confirm I really didn't have the right course on the watch at all.  By the time we reached River Road there was already a separation.  Despite all of my instincts, I held back and didn't chase after the lead group.  I had a pleasant roll down that warm-up pavement with Ben Jonjak, and the Bruns Bros.  As we rolled off the end of River Road Ben held back and I continued on with the BBs sampling the ensuing gravel and sand.  As we were approaching Evergreen we could see a small group pouring on the steam closing in on us.

Turns out it was the Gentle hammer who arrived fashionably late to the start, and course preriders Nate and Jason.  We rode together as a loose group for the next fifteen miles through the Sand Barrens and Fish Lake State Wildlife Area.  We had swallowed up a few of the earlier group as they came unstrung from the lead pack.  We ourselves got a little strung out and I ended up rolling into Grantsburg with just Greg and one of the BBs where we found the majority of the lead pack still refueling and chilling out.

A fairly large group rolled out of Grantsburg together including Frank, Gentle, and Mike Phernetton.  After traversing the rugged area around the airport and then starting into head north into Crex with what I could tell was going to be a nasty headwind when we turned East, I noticed the large group had already splintered.  I was either going to hang with these guys I knew were definitely out of my league or be left swinging in the wind by myself.


Crex was beautiful.  Unfortunately I spent a lot of it staring at my stem or the wheel in front of me trying to hang on.  I tried to do my share on the front, but I slipped out of line a few times.  As we left Crex and were headed for Siren we picked up Mr. Gravel Conspiracy as well as one or two others.

Frank made the executive decision that there would be a pizza and beverage stop in Siren.  I wasn't sure I wanted to to stop, being concerned I might not get started again.  But as I nearly popped going around the airport a break was needed.  Frank, Gentle, Josh and I all stopped and had delicious wood fired pizza and "recovery" beverages at Tesora before climbing back on the bikes.  According to my watch, this was a 59 minute layover.

Getting back on the bike for the slow gradual climb to Frederick was a challenge.  We started with a double paceline and by my second turn I had to say no.  We had 30 miles to go and I was pushing too hard.  The guys were great and said to sit in and not to worry about it.  A few miles later it turns out I wasn't the only one hurting as one of us drifted off the back.  Just after passing Fredrick we picked up Nate, Jason, and the Bruns Bros again.  The pace was a bit high again with a pack of guys.  As we rolled into Siren and the Wren I was about to pop again.

I had been tracking my more attractive half all day as she made her way through the 70 mile ride.  As we stopped in Siren I could see that she had just left.  I was definitely getting something though.  A delicious Espresso Malt and I was getting anxious to be on the trail again.  I bid my days riding buddies farewell and went to chase down my girl thinking I had a chance at catching her before SCF.

I was wrong.  I was cranking away for all I was worth and every time I checked she was still 4 miles ahead.  When I reached Centuria and she was on the Interlink I knew it wasn't happening.  I really did appreciate the downhill shortly beyond Centuria after what seemed like an entire day of soft surfaces, headwinds, or gradual motivation sapping uphills.

Summary

All in all it was a great day.  Other than being "slightly breezy", the weather was fantastic.  I had great company on the bike all day.  And despite tripling my longest ride of the year, and riding on the ragged edge for a good portion of the day, I finished in excess of my expectations.

What's next?  Some 50k trail run on Saturday.  I'm pretty sure I'm even less prepared for that than I was for this.  Almanzo is likely on the docket.  But really, it is time to put some structure into the training plan again.  Only 302 days until the Birkie.


Final Stonegrind Batch Of The Season At Cyclova XC - Bring In Your Skis!

Get your skis in for the final stonegrind batch of the year - they'll have a cozy blanket of cover wax on and be ready for Summer storage!
While it hasn't been as snowy of a Spring as it was last year (knock on a wooden ski), ski season has definitely came to an end for us Northern Hemisphere folks.  With that said, it's definitely time to get some storage / cover wax on your skis - if you haven't already done so.

Now is also the perfect time to have your skis stoneground - so that they're in great shape and ready to go for next ski season.  Of course, all stonegrinds done by Cyclova XC come with a nice thick layer of cover wax - so that they're ready for storage - in this case, a "cozy Summer slumber".  For the full scoop on Stonegrinding, Hotboxing, and our entire menu of ski services, check out our SKI SERVICE PAGE.  

We will be doing our final batch of grinding on Thursday, April 30 - so we need your skis here by closing on Wednesday, April 29 to be included in this batch.  

Feel free to contact the ski tech gurus at Cyclova XC with any questions!  Happy Summer!

CyclovaXC Thanks Chad Olson!

Chad Tearing it Up!
We’re sad to announce that Chad Olson will be leaving CyclovaXC. He has received a great opportunity from Federal Foam Technologies in New Richmond and will be beginning a new chapter in his professional career there shortly. Although we’ll miss having Chad at the shop, we're happy for this wonderful new opportunity for Chad and his family. The silver lining is that we hope Chad’s new hours will allow him more time to come and join us during events and group rides. Best of luck Chad, you’ll always be part of the CyclovaXC family!

Burnett County Votes Not to Expand Gandy Special Permits for Motorized Use

Hey Folks,

A bit of good news on the Gandy Dancer issue. On the April 21st meeting, the Burnett County voted to continue the use of the two existing special use permits (this year only), but not expand to 5 permits as was proposed. There are a lot of people who dedicated a tremendous amount of their free time to make this happen, so many, in fact, that it's difficult to list them all. The silver lining in all this is that it has been wonderful to see the cycling community come together. Thank you for your activism, participation, and letters. However, the fight isn't over yet.

The Burnett county decision is very encouraging, but if there's one thing that this ordeal has made clear, it's that the cycling community cannot take the Gandy Dancer trail for granted. We've seen efforts made to motorize the Gandy every year since CyclovaXC opened, and there's no reason to expect those efforts to stop.

The Gandy is a tremendous resource to cyclists and families, and I think we all need to adopt a mindset of protecting, promoting, and utilizing the trail. Also, it's important to remember that the efforts to convert the trail are coming from a very vocal minority. In our efforts to preserve the Gandy in its current state, it's critical that we don't cause ill-will (people have been doing a great job of presenting their arguments in a calm and reasonable fashion--thanks).

It's important to note that the Polk County board will also be voting on this issue soon, and we can't sit back and relax until that meeting has happened. Also, we have to take the momentum from the Burnett County decision and build on it to ensure the Gandy becomes untouchable. There are a lot of productive and positive things we can do for the community such as:

  • Organize as many silent sports events as possible on the trail (if you can utilize part of the trail for an upcoming event, do so)
  • Continue to take photos of yourself and your family when you're out on the trail and post those photos to social media (the more people that see families using the trail, the better)
  • When your rides on the Gandy cause you to stop in at businesses, let those businesses know that the Gandy Dancer trail brought you
  • Continue to write letters to local papers about how useful the Gandy is. To this day a large portion of the community is under the misconception that the Gandy "isn't used." We can change this perception with pictures, anecdotes, and invitations to ride
  • Always be positive!
If you want to be on the Gandy "action list" just send me an email with "Gandy" in the subject line (bj@cyclovaxc.com). The Burnett County decision is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. Once again, thanks to everyone for your efforts! We'll keep you informed about the upcoming Polk County meeting.



2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic Delivers!

Chris Locke, founder of the Skull-n-Bones Gravel Challenge, performs a little bike surgery in a "safe" zone
For the 2014 Mammoth there was enough snow to suffocate a polar bear. What a difference a year makes! Coming out of another wondrous Wisconsin winter, we haven't seen too many 70 degree days. But we had a beautiful one on Saturday, August 18th for the 4th annual running of the Mammoth Gravel Classic.  Approximately 200 riders came to participate in the 100, 70, or 35 mile ride that finished up on the beautiful Gandy Dancer Trail.

My initial plan was to do the 70 mile course. I have been "preparing" for the Chippewa 50k and not riding as much as I should ("preparing" is in quotes because I'm just hoping to survive that run...). But my friends Chris (above) and Eric Olson (race director for the Gandy Dancer Trail Marathon) talked me into doing the 100 two days before the event...so I was stuck.

I zip tied my go pro to my seat bag in the hope of getting 2,000 great pictures of everyone riding. I got a little rushed at the start (I'd forgotten my navigation map in my car and had to run back for it), so I slammed the go pro into its case right as Frank finished his presentation. Unfortunately, I must have hit the off button somehow because this is the last picture I took:
I was so angry that I ordered a new camera last night. From now on I'll have three with me at all times (I think that's why professional photographers do that...to minimize their own idiotic acts of self-destruction).

I did take a bunch of pictures with my other camera so that saved the day to some extent. Although, at about mile 70 the act of taking a photo seemed too exhausting to follow through with.

We set out fast, making our way down River Road towards the barrens. The 8 AM start time came with a chill in the air that caused me to overdress, so I stopped and peeled off some layers by Wolf Creek Bar. That's where Eric caught up with me. He'd gone sleeveless because "when the sun's out the guns are out!" Chris caught up too, as did Tod on his fat bike. I thought he was being ambitious attempting to ride that fat bike the whole 100 miles, but when we hit that soft, sandy stuff he had the last laugh. He got ahead of us and we never saw him again.

We stopped to stuff our faces frequently:
It was pretty sandy out there, and there were a few patches where you had to push the bike (assuming you weren't riding a fat bike), but for the most part the trail was in good shape. This is a good early season ride because the course is relatively flat.

We got into Grantsburg where Chris had been hanging out waiting for us, had a delicious gas station sandwich, and headed out to Crex Meadows. We hit some welcome pavement around the 50 mile mark, and cruised along ready to reach the north end of the Gandy Dancer Trail.

I'd been looking forward to the Gandy since that meant you didn't have to think about staying on course. The course was very well marked with pieces of lathe (going out and putting those up represents a lot of hours of hard work, thanks for that Frank!), but it's always easier when you don't have to worry about turning at all.

There has been a lot of chatter about opening up the Gandy to more ATV use, so it was nice to have the public see hundreds of cyclists on the trail. We made all participants buy a trail pass the morning of the event, so that represented a significant influx of cash to Polk county. 
Our biggest delay of the day came at Siren where we stopped at the Subway. Unfortunately we hit the place at rush hour, and there was only one poor overworked employee running the assembly line. She did a good job zipping back and forth, apologizing to everyone. I felt bad for her, but I was also starving from 70 miles of riding, so I just stood there waiting helplessly for my sandwich to miraculously descend from the heavens.

She pulled my chicken breast foot long from the toaster oven, set it on the counter, then proceeded to ask the next five people in line what kind of sandwich they wanted. Then she cut the bread and laid them out awaiting the toppings.  Ok...the tactic made sense...she was being efficient...but I had to stand there looking at my sandwich for about 10 minutes slowly cooling on the counter--so close and yet so far.

Finally, meal in hand, I sat down and destroyed the first half of the foot long. I was debating whether or not I should eat the second because you never know what's going to happen to you when you get back on the bike with a full stomach. But the first half of that sandwich disappeared so quickly that I eventually concluded I had to go after the second as well. I made an attempt to savor the second half, but it still disappeared almost instantly. I showed remarkable restraint, however, and didn't eat the cookies, and limited myself to four refills on the soda. A couple miles down the road I looked like this:
Still, that sandwich kicked in after a few more miles and got us home.

We took it pretty easy and finished the 100 (actually it was like 104) in right around 8 hours of riding time. That's the way to do it, lots of time to stop, eat, and a slow enough rolling pace to keep up a good conversation. I was in the group that had two guys capable of filling up 8 hours of airtime with constant chatter (I was one of those guys). Anytime people stopped talking, we knew it was time to slow down (Tod said he could hear us the whole way so he thought we were right behind him).

It's always nice when the weather cooperates on an event like this. Everyone I talked to seemed to have a blast. Anyone who is reading this is welcome to come out and ride the courses anytime you want. You can frequently find informal groups doing the course, and it's nice to have a 100 miler "on tap."  Here's the course write-ups: 100 miler, 70 miler, 35 miler.

Next up, Chippewa 50k. I know I'll see some of you there, and the rest of you I hope I'll be seeing out on some St. Croix gravel soon! It kind of feels like summer is here doesn't it?

Mammoth Gravel Classic Rider Checklist

Get prepared and get stoked for the Mammoth Gravel Classic!
The time is drawing near, NOW is time to make certain that you are ready for the 2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic!  Go to www.mammothgravelclassic.com for the full scoop.  Following are a few key things that will ensure you have a great day and that things go smoothly for you:
  1. Come tonight for a fabulous presentation on the Gravel Conspiracy by Gravel Conspiracy founder Joshua Stamper (3 day Gravel ride on the north shore) - the 2015 course will be unveiled tonight at the presentation!  Co-owner of Cyclova XC will follow up Josh's presentation with a tech presentation on gravel bike technology (and what makes a gravel bike unique), as well as review the gear that you'll want to have with on an unsupported gravel ride.  After the presentations, join us for dinner at the Bistro On St. Croix - right across the street from Cyclova XC - note that this is a cash or check establishment (no credit cards), there is an ATM on site.  If you're looking for great places to eat, lodging, or camping, check out our event hospitality directory
  2. On Saturday morning, please do not park on Main / Washington Street.  Please park in one of the several parking lots on the Thompson Parkway - one block east (up the hill) of Washington Street.
  3. Please bring with $5 cash to purchase your required Wisconsin State Trail Day Pass (or $25 to purchase your annual pass.  This is a bargain and supports a great cause - there is no event entry fee.  You're also required to sign an event waiver - and that will enter you into the swag drawing which will happen at 4:30PM on Saturday - featuring swag from Salsa, the Woolly Bike Club, and Cyclova XC. 
  4. Want to ride amazing singletrack on Sunday?  The Woolly Mountain Bike trails are officially open.  Bring with your Mountain Bike and do some early season Woolly shreddin' on Sunday!
  5. Check out the latest course updates HERE!   Be familiar with the event courses
  6. For up to the minute updates, join the Mammoth Gravel Classic Facebook Page!
The Woolly Mountain Bike Trails are officially open and in primo shape!  Bring with your mountain bike and shred some Woolly gnar on Sunday! 

!!All Systems Go For Mammoth Gravel Classic - Courses In FANTASTIC Shape!!!


Get stoked!  The new 100 mile course will blow your socks off.  Above is a scene that you'll enjoy throughout the Crex Meadows area of the course!
Happy Mammoth Gravel Classic Eve!  The sky is blue, the temps are warm, and there are no blizzards in the forecast (the previous 2 years we had 12"+ of snow in the 2 days leading up the the event)!  The forecast for tomorrow looks great - highs in the mid 60's, mostly cloudy skies, and rain not forecasted to come until after riders will be finished.  For the full scoop on the Mammoth Gravel Classic, go to www.MammothGravelClassic.com.

Johnson Road, at roughly mile 25 of the 70 & 100 mile course is in "great" shape.  Bone-Appetitte! 
The courses have never been in better shape, and everyone is certain to have one of their best ever days on a bicycle.  In my final course re-con mission, I found the sandy sections of the 100 mile & 70 mile courses to be firmer than usual - due to the rain we've had this week - but we still do recommend 40mm tires or wider.  


 
The sandy sections of the course are relatively firm due to the rain we had recently.  We still do STRONGLY recommend riding a 40mm tire - unless you want to spend some time walking your bike...
Remember - this is an unsupported gravel adventure ride.  This means that you are responsible for you:
  • You must be equipped to navigate yourself.  We have provided you tools to do so for each of the ride courses on the Course page of the event website.
  • You are responsible to take care of hydration and nutrition for yourself (noting that there are numerous opportunities to stop for food/drink along the courses at local businesses - we have highlighted several on the course info pages).
  • You are responsible to take care of any issues you might have on the course - mechanical issues (flat tires or any other mechanical issue).  This means that you need to have a tool kit with - and should know how to use it. 
On my last course recon mission, I saw over 50 Swans, hundreds of geese, dozens of deer, a flock of over 20 Sandhill Cranes, and even a Wolf!

I expect riders of the 100 mile course will say it's one of the sweetest gravel courses they've ever ridden - due to the incredible wilderness and amazing range of nature preserves it passes through.  This amazing course spends 9 miles going along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, passes through the beautiful/rugged Sand Barrens, goes right through the heart of the Fish Lake Wildlife Preserve, threads the needle through most of the highlights of Crex Meadows, passes along the north edge of Amsterdam Slough, and spends some good quality time on the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail.  EPIC!

!!2016 Cyclova XC Wednesday Night Sprint Rides!!

Join the Wednesday night crew for the Cyclova XC Wednesday Night Sprint Ride!  Inclusive for all levels road riders on quiet country roads!
That's right folks, the 2016 weekly Wednesday Cyclova Sprint Rides are back on - starting  (June 15th), and continuing until the end of August. Please join us at the shop at 6 PM for a fantastic workout!

We've been doing road bike sprint rides for decades - and when done right, we've realized that they can be both fun and challenging for all levels of road riders - from seasoned elites through beginners!  This is our goal with the Cyclova XC Wednesday night sprint ride!
The Cyclova XC Group Sprint Road Ride is a carefully engineered affair - with the goal of being INCLUSIVE to all road riders on road bikes.  We have made some changes to this year's route, with safety being the #1 goal.  Following are the basics of the ride:
  • We have a great 33.6 mile generally undulating course. Click HERE for the Strava Route File - an interactive map, details, and click HERE to view the printable version of this file - including que sheet.  
  • There is a beautiful 9 mile warm up along the majestic St. Croix River on beautiful River Road.  Then, we have 6 sprints in the same location every week (again see the map for the locations).  These sprints vary from high speed flat sprints to challenging climbs throughout the final 23 miles of the ride.
  • This is a casual group ride until we are within about 1 mile of each sprint line.  If we are within 1 mile of the sprint, anything goes.  Feel like going for it early - break away style?  Great!   Feel like playing cat & mouse, looking at everyone else until 50 meters before the line?  Great!  Just want to play it cool and ride easy during the spring?  Great!  Each sprint is a race simulation, and racing is unpredictable - as is the case with this sprint ride. 
  • After each sprint line, EVERYONE slows down until everyone re-groups and recovers.  We ride together easily until we are within 1 mile of the next sprint where the games start all over again!
  • Overall average speed varies based on the group present, but is usually between 14mph and 17mph - but the sprints are always intense.

These Wednesday night sprint rides are meant for all levels of road riders - but road bikes are strongly recommended.  Whether you're a seasoned racer or curious about doing group road rides - this ride is for you!  Come join us and be a part of it - and join us afterward for the dinner & drinks that usually follow at the establishment of our choice!

Race Report: St Louis Marathon


I’ve never met a hill I couldn’t walk

St. Louis Missouri is definitely a great place to explore. I would say it has everything! From fine dining to street vendor grub, many parks, the Arch National Monument, the Angry Mississippi River and one of the largest breweries in the nation: Anheiser Busch. St. Louis is home to over 300,000 people and I guess I can see why they like living here. This is the true “Gateway to the West.”

When we choose a destination marathon, we always look for 3 things; -Good Food, –Good Music, –Sleazy City. We decided to drive this time and actually sleep in my Chevy Suburban. We’re signed up for lots of events this summer and need to save as much money as possible. So we headed out late and drove through the night, arrived in St. Louie about noon the next day. Our Massachusetts friends flew in about the same time and we all met up for cocktails at The Beer Garden Pub located across the street from Busch Stadium. It’s always great getting together with these guys knowing we will tear up the town and have some new fun. We still had one more full day before the Marathon so there was really no reason to take it easy.

After a few rounds of beers we found a nice place for dinner and reminisced about old times. We’ve ran lots of marathons together in all parts of the country and plan to do this for many years to come. We toasted every round to where we’ve been and what the future holds. These are truly the greatest times of my life. We finished up dinner and decided to hit the town. It was one pub to the next. We spent a couple hours at The Beale on Broadway featuring a 4 man blues band, with all 4 members over the age of 65! They were awesome. It was a good night that eventually had to come to a close.

The next morning came much too early but we got moving quickly to explore the rest of this great river city. We started our day by touring the Arch. It’s an amazing piece of our county’s history indeed. We then headed up to the Health and Fitness Expo where the 15,000 runners would grab their race bibs. We’ve been to many of these and we try to not spend too much time walking the aisles and trying on new shoes. We had pubs to hit and deep fried food to sample. So that’s how the rest of the day continued. Walking around the outside of the Cardinal’s Baseball Stadium, we were amazed with all the entertainment this part of the city had to offer. Bars and restaurants, outdoor dining, gift and memorabilia stores. We definitely had to try out the dark beer selections whenever we could find some open seats in the sun. Every place was full of patrons and we could only imagine how busy they would be during a ball game.


We were having a great time and had shorts on for the first time since last fall! As the evening approached we promised each other we would find the best BBQ Rib place St. Louis had to offer. We were directed down to Hannegan’s Restaurant and Pub. They brought out piles of pork ribs, beef brisket, baked beans, cornbread and of course a small salad so at least you felt like you were eating something healthy. We finished the night off with some fine red wine before heading to bed. It was another great day and we were excited to run in the morning.

The alarm went off and we met for coffee before heading down to the marathon start. We took every minute we could just to relax and stay off our feet until we decided to walk down to the crowded start area and the smell of Ben Gay. It was time and we were about to get this show started. As I’ve said before, these days I don’t care about my finishing time. It’s more about “Quantity then Quality.” Finish smart and stay uninjured for the next. The gun went off and we headed down the crowded streets with nothing else planned but to run 26 miles. The first mile took us to a bridge across the Mississippi River and we spent the next two miles running in the State of Illinois before crossing a different bridge back into Missouri again. The course ran through a fair amount of Industrial area for the next several miles until we reached the original Budweiser Brewery. This was by far the most interesting part of the race. I was amazed by all the massive brick buildings that went on for many blocks. Most of the original structures are still in use after their construction in the late 1800s. This business also played a big part of St. Louis’ economic history. I looked long and hard for the free beer samples but I didn’t have much luck.

At the 13 mile mark the half marathoners split off from our course and headed to their finish line. I just kept plugging along and started some conversations with a few other runners. We came upon an older gentleman who seemed to be staggering a little and his head leaned to one side as he ran. I asked him is he was feeling ok? He replied “I feel great”! So our conversation continued and I learned that this was his 15th Marathon. And that he has Parkinson's Disease. And he didn’t start running until after he was diagnosed with the disease. He also said the University of Missouri is conducting a major study on his situation with his disease and running Marathons. We talked for the next 7 or 8 miles and it was really a blessing to have met this man and hear his positive outlook and imagine how he must inspire everyone he meets.

The last few miles of the race brought us through Forest Park. A large 1300 acre park featuring an Art Museum, History Center and the St. Louis Zoo. There was also a large golf course in the park witch I’ve found makes a great location for high school cross country meets (but not much else).

The last mile was a straight downhill descent to the finish line. The temps were starting to get hot and I was ready to be done. It was another good day, one more victory. One more finish line of a race against myself.

We will keep doing this. We will keep challenging ourselves at high level endurance events in interesting places and make personal victories. This is what we do. 

Life is Good, take it all in.


!!All course details, gpx files, que sheet, etc are LIVE for the 2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic!!!

After countless hours spent riding, driving the Jeep, peering over maps, and generations of que sheets - ALL of the 2015 course details are posted!
It's been a roller coaster of a Spring - 70 degrees - snow - 60 degrees - hard frost - etc...  Now with what we believe will be our final dusting melting at long last - we are moving full speed ahead toward the 2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic!  

After countless hours exploring EPIC course options no the bike, in my Jeep, peering over maps, and many generations of que sheets - all of the 2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic course details are posted.  

There are many ways to view / use the course information for each of the courses including various online mapping sites (ridewithgps.com, garminconnect.com, mapmyride.com), gpx files, and good old fashioned que sheets.  To view and download any of this information, go to the COURSES PAGE , and click on your course distance of choice at our great event website - www.mammothgravelclassic.com.  A special thanks to Ben Mullin of Team Cyclova for his help with mapping and the creation of the plethora of files to use for navigation of this year's courses!

Do plan on getting your GRAVEL STOKE ON the evening before the event at the "Gravel Edition" of our Adventure & Tech Social Series - you're invited Friday, 17 April @ 6PM sharp.  Joshua Stamper, one of the gentlemen of gravel and Gravel Conspiracy Founder will present the details of the 2015 Gravel Conspiracy Event - followed by Frank Lundeen of Cyclova XC talking about gravel riding gear, and sharing a few tips & tricks.  After the presentation, join us for dinner and find a hotel or campground to enjoy for the weekend!

Mammoth Gravel Classic course recon!  GET STOKED!

ADVENTURE & TECH: Gravel Conspiracy, Gravel Gear, & Mammoth Gravel Classic Kick Off - April 17 @ 6PM

"Conspirators" in the 2013 Gravel Conspiracy take a break & fix a flat.
The Mammoth Gravel Classic is quickly approaching and the excitement of gravel grinding is upon us! Get your steed tuned up and head to the St. Croix Valley for what is sure to be an epic weekend of Northwestern Wisconsin Gravel!

Join us at Cyclova XC on Friday April 17th at 6 p.m. for a grand kick off the eve of the Mammoth Gravel Classic.

Adventure (starting at 6PM sharp): Joshua Stamper, founder of The Gravel Conspiracy, will showcase his ultimate gravel adventure ride.  Josh will share a bit of his history with gravel, and why he loves riding his bicycle on it.  He will also share how the Gravel Conspiracy came to be, and unveil detail on the 2015 Gravel Conspiracy course.  Don't miss this - Joshua is a great presenter!  

Tech : Frank Lundeen, Co-owner/founder of Cyclova XC and two-time gravel conspirator, will share some gravel adventuring tips, show what makes a gravel bike different, and show off a few pieces of simple and affordable gear that will help any cyclist seeking gravel cycling adventures.

Many Cyclova XC team members, friends, and family have taken on the Gravel Conspiracy (been "conspirators") in previous years. Get inspired and read their stories here and here.

Want to join the challenge? Join the Cyclova XC Gravel Conspiracy Crew!  Get your gear checklist here to prepare for an epic adventure on gravel!


Dallas Wynne of team Cyclova & Woolly Bike Club member rides epic "gravel" in the 2013 Gravel Conspiracy.