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Crumps Brother
Sep 5, 2007

Get Equipped with
Ground Game

Weekend Race Report - Lake MacBride Fat Tire Classic

The closest thing I've had to a real race in a very long time. Even then it was definitely enough to scratch one hell of an itch. They took out the mass start and gave everyone a window to roll out whenever they wanted. Timing was done TT style. The course changes a tiny bit every year, but not too much. You always ride through the park itself which has some killer climbs and descents in it. Some years you pedal up the hills and some years you run. After that you cruise along a lakeside MUP. That gets a bunch of foot traffic so it has a chance of being pretty rough. The final long section is over some gravel roads. Always smooth, but lots of exposure and not always plowed or groomed. Los of variety over this year's 19 miles.

Suffice to say, it was a cold one this year. Because of the wind and temps they took out most of the gravel section to limit our total exposure. Only one unplowed B road and a highway shoulder totaling just a few miles or so. No surprises though so we all had plenty of time to dress appropriately.

The team rolled out from the start line together. It took about 15 seconds for us to snap this non socially distant group photo. Then we kicked off for the race. Way too cold out to stand around and gab at each other. Everyone immediate settled in to their own pace and rode by themselves.

No photos from the single track that I know of this year. Here's me at about mile 8. Right at the start of the lakeside MUP. At this point my goggles are almost entirely fogged up. A teammate was planted here for the photo op, but all I could see was a silhouette and had no clue who it was.

After a bit of gravel and right before the drat B road. New clean lenses for this pic. They're magnetic so I was able to pop off my yellow set and pocket them, ride with just the frames for a bit, then snap the new clean set back in place after my eyes had enough. It was pretty great to be able to do that without ever stopping.

The B road was a completely exposed, unplowed, and drifted to hell and back section of gravel. If you really had your poo poo together then I guess most of it could be pedaled. By the time I came through there were ruts and foot prints everywhere so I was running about 50% of it.

After the gravel it's back in to the woods for a bit and back to the start. About three miles total at the end. The start line window closed at noon and I started at 11:34am. The thought was to delay as much as reasonably possible because that would let the early folks pack down the fresh snowfall and speed up the course. I think that plan worked everywhere except for the B road.

Also, I never really used my balaclava before this race. I was planning on intermittently shoving some shot bloks in my face to fuel. I was already on the start line when I finally realized that I didn't actually have a mouth hole in the mask. Whoops. The lakeside mup was so smooth though that I had plenty of time to finagle a few bloks in through the nose hole and down to my mouth from there. Do you need fuel for a two hour ride? No. But it sure is nice to have. I never did figure out how to drink water. I foresee myself cutting the mask for future use.

All in all, I love this race because of the course. It's an absolute blast to ride. This year's weather added some fun elements to it too. I finished 9th overall out of about 100 registered racers.


Crumps Brother
Sep 5, 2007

Get Equipped with
Ground Game

Race Report: Iowa Wind and Rock 2021

Here's the cliff notes for the race if you didn't scour through the website.
341 miles, solo self supported gravel, two drop bags and one official 24 hour c-store on route.
It's cue card navigated. You're given sets of cards 15 minutes before the start and upon arrival to cp1 and cp2. If your total elapsed pace falls under 10mph then you're scratched from the race and you don't get the next set of cards. Elapsed time, not moving time. Every second you spend not moving is counting against you.

Pandemic Disclaimer:
1. I have both my vac shots and it was greater than two weeks ago.
2. It's a 341 mile solo race so I'm not riding in groups or anything like that except for...
3. The shotgun mass start. If you dig up a picture of it you won't be happy. You also won't see me in it. I wasn't in the starting chute; I was hanging out with a buddy behind it. We started pedaling a bit after just to throw in some extra space.

My Gear
I use the same bike that I've used for pretty much everything that I post about. My 2008 Jamis Nova Pro. I never did take a picture of it fully loaded for the race, but I have the picture from my full shakedown a couple weeks ago.

Four water bottles. Two feed bags for food. Half frame bag for extra clothes/whatever. Saddle bag for maintenance. Varia, Orfos Pro, and Flare city for tail lights. Cygolite something and Serfas something for head lights. The cygolite has a giant battery and can last for the whole race. The Serfas can run off an external and gets 12+ hours with a battery in my jersey pocket. And one Energizer book light which was a totally untested last second addition and completely amazing.

Drop Bags
Code Red/Gatorade/High Life
Rice Cakes/Cookies/Shot Bloks
Butt lube/Bike Lube
TP/Wet Wipes/Paper Towels/Lens Cleaner
Chemical Warmers (cp2 only)

The Race
Forecast for the race was what I'd call perfect, but I'm sure there's some folks out there that would have preferred no rain instead of a tiny bit of rain. It was dry the whole week before race. It rained about a tenth of an inch right before things kicked off. Just enough to make the start nice and sloppy, but was completely dried out by midday.

The start time for the race is 4am. Starting the previous Sunday I pushed my alarm ahead by one hour each day. Sunday was 7am, Monday was 6am, ..., Friday and Saturday were 2am. On the day of the race I woke up with a solid 7.5 hours of sleep under my belt. Breakfast is shitloads of granola and greek yogurt washed down with a liter of Code Red. It was still drizzling while I was setting up, but was done by the time I "lined up".

We kicked off right at 4am. The race leaders missed the third loving turn. Everyone was just following them (me included). So about a block in I saw the whole pack heading back towards us and knew exactly what that meant. I turned around and all that social distancing felt a smidge wasted because now I'm surrounded by cyclists again. It wasn't a tight peloton, but damnit. We're spread back out in another block or two. We're on gravel quick enough and from there everyone is just riding bikes. There's not much to say about the beginning. It's wet gravel, but only surface level so the riding is still fine. There's lots of splatter and I'm really thankful for my rear end saver.

I hit the first B road after ~2.5 hours. It's still wet. I don't know if everyone knows how B roads work so I'll just get long winded. They're minimum maintenance gravel roads. It's just dirt/clay and will see a grader if things get rutted up enough, but otherwise the county doesn't touch 'em. Riding a dry B road can be great because it's just hardpack dirt. Riding a wet B road is a thing. You have to watch your line and tires carefully and the moment you start to see your tires collecting crap you have to stop and hike-a-bike. If you don't things will go from bad to worse very quickly. Because of this everyone carries a scraper. I have a plastic putty knife (it never leaves my frame bag). I see lots of paint sticks and spatulas as well. If it's just a normal ride you can carry your bike no problem. It's a lot harder when you're fully bagged out. I've been carrying my shoulder strap for awhile now, but this is the first time I've actually needed it. I only had to walk about a half mile so that wasn't bad. When I reached the end I really only had to scrape my boots, but I spun the wheels once and cleaned the edges of my tires as well. Strava says I only spent seven minutes cleaning up.

Started rolling once more and again things are pretty uneventful. Once the sun came out I stopped to turn everything off and make sure my batteries were good. Helmet light and handlebar light are no problem. I was using my Orfos Pro for my taillight. It only runs off external power. I really like that light. It's zip tied to my saddlebag and the power cable runs up inside where I have a battery pack mixed in with my tools and stuff. I don't even know how long it'll run on that battery because I've never had a ride where I ran out. I unzipped my bag, unplugged my Orfos, and then tried to zip my bag back up. Too much junk. The zipper handle broke and I was left with a hosed up bag. I used some water from my bottles to try and clean it up and that helped, but I still couldn't get it closed. A friend stopped to help and had the brilliant idea of using part of his pipe cleaner for his number plate as a new zipper handle. That ended up working after a bit more convincing. Finally I got my bag closed again. It felt like forever. Strava says it was three minutes. On a whim I stole my wife's Flare City and threw it on my seat stay. I was very happy I did that. It runs for 14 hours and it meant that when night fall rolled around again I wouldn't have to mess with my saddlebag zipper for a taillight.

Things are rolling once again. Race time is exactly four hours so things are still early. One tiny hiccup in the saddlebag issue, but otherwise fine. Then at mile 44 poo poo went down. We turned right on to Lewis Ave on to what was a completely normal looking gravel road. That road was poo poo. Totally hosed by the rain. Sandy aggregate mixed with a clay surface and the morning's rain sitting in with it. By the time I noticed I was in a bad place it was way too late. So I did what any rear end in a top hat would do and just kept pedaling through it. It was only one mile and I'm already a bit screwed. My bike basically shut down at exactly the halfway point. Mud and sand got in to everything. I pulled the putty knife back out and got to work cleaning up. The chain kept dropping to the inside on the inner ring. My two lowest and three high cogs on my cassette couldn't seat the chain at all with the poo poo that was jammed in it. I eventually noticed that when I wrapped the chain on the inner ring there was so much crap that I couldn't remove that the chain wouldn't even sit inside the teeth completely. I worked to clean out the teeth even more, but I just couldn't get the chain to stay in place. Eventually I realized my outer ring actually looked kinda clean. I shifted over to it and everything seemed to "work". There's too much poo poo in my pedals and boots so I can't clip in, but I gave my bike a quick test ride and it seemed like I could move forward in this condition. I'm now riding a single speed that's geared at 46-25. In that one mile section I spent 21 minutes. That's not counting all the time I spent elsewhere on route dealing with the after effects of that road. I would have been way better off just getting off my bike when I noticed things were going south and strapping back up.

I pushed on after Lewis Ave. Up until now I've been riding with a buddy of mine. I had to leave him for dead on Lewis. Never saw him again. Sorry, friend-o. The rider in front of me missed the cue to turn off Lewis, but was only 80-100 feet out so I was able to yell her back on to route. We leap frogged each other a bunch of times throughout the day. Coincidentally, the one other leapfrog rider I had did the same thing later in the day and I had to yell him back on route as well. I'm off of Lewis and the road is dry enough. With a bit of speed things start to clean themselves up a bit. Slowly I start getting more available cogs on my cassette. After a few miles or so I shifted to the inner ring and everything stayed in place so I'm incredibly thankful for that. Grinding up the hills in big ring sucked. I'm a little worried about pace at this point. I'm still ahead of cutoff time, but I don't know what's in front of me and if there's another "Lewis" that's going to start putting things in red. After about another hour the roads are looking really dry. I'm thinking that things are looking up so I have some minutes to spare. I stopped to use more of my water to give my rear der and cassette a better cleaning. It costs me five minutes, but when I start rolling again I I'm only missing the three highest cogs on my cassette and my low gears are spinning reliably again. It felt like a good decision.

The rest of the way to cp1 is uneventful. No photos between Lewis and cp1 because at that point I was in an "every second counts" kind of mode and I certainly wasn't going to try and pull my phone out. Leapfrog lady passed me again on the way to cp1. She was in the same boat too. We had a quick chat and she was telling me how wildly overdressed she was, but she didn't want to stop to spend the minutes packing up her jacket and whatnot. But instead she's just going to sweat it out and worry about proper clothing once the next set of cue cards were in her hands.

Checkpoint 1: Mile 80.5 closes at 12:03pm
I reach cp1 at 11:46am. 52 people started the race and 28 reached cp1 in time. Covid restrictions mean that you can't fill your own water bottles. You place them on the ground with their tops off and a volunteer will fill them and put them back on the ground for you. I ask the volunteer, "How many times are you willing to fill the same bottle of water for me?" with the idea that I'm about give give my drivetrain a proper cleaning with as much water as I can. I'm not the first person with this idea because he tells me, "about 40 feet behind you is a water spigot and it's working." Oh hell yeah. Bearings be damned, I wash my bike. Everything looks great when I finish. I repack my nutrition, eat my uncrustables, and chug all the liquid in my drop bag.
(Not actually my bike, but pretty much exactly what I did with my bike too.)

I left cp1 at 12:22pm. At this moment I am 19 minutes behind the cutoff time. However, I have the next 110 miles to make it back up. Between cp1 and cp2 there were no major events like there was in the first "lap". So instead the following is a more general sense of how things went. Pace wise things went well. I caught back up to the cutoff at mile 20 and started adding minutes after that. I think managed to bank upwards of 50 minutes at one point. I was able to pick off riders one by one throughout the lap and played more leapfrog with those other two folks as well. I had a nice chat with my team leader and fatty rider too. Turns out he rolled right through the first B road and didn't even need to stop and clean up. Then when he hit Lewis he was able to pedal through it all in the ditch. He saved all sorts of time with both of those maneuvers. Sadly, all those advantages disappeared during this section and he spent it all just bleeding time. Bummer.

At any given time I usually run my bike with 36/46 up front and 11-28 on the rear. It works well for the location and use cases for me. When I know I have more hills in front of me I swap over to my 11-32 and that's been fine. I've always been able to grind up any hill I come across. What I straight up wasn't prepared for was how relentless the rolling hills were in this part of the state. Nothing is flat. You're always either going up or down. And somewhere in this second section that really started adding up on me.

Also, my nutrition, all of which is tried and true, started to get weird on me at some point. All recipes are from Feed Zone Portables and I really love that book. But food got harder and harder to eat as the day wore on. I also think I bit my tongue somewhere in there? My cookies are delicious, but after some hours in the feedbag they got really dry. Saltine "pull all the moisture from your mouth" dry. My rice cakes were good, but it took me about 15 minutes to eat a rice cake because swallowing food had become progressively harder as time went on. I'm a lover of candy and savory foods only get me so far. My cookies were my sweet treats and I kinda lost out on those. I also had margarita shot bloks and those never let me down once. I ate both packets available (not actually true, madness has already started setting in) during this section and really looked forward to restocking at cp2.

It got dark. Lights went on. I kept riding.

Checkpoint 2: Mile 191.4 closes at 11:08 pm
I hit cp2 at 10:26pm. 19 people reached cp2. By the end of that section I was pedaling under pace. I lost 8 minutes and not because I had stopped anywhere. I remember rolling in to town and they had a speed camera thingy on a lamppost. I was riding downhill on pavement and the dumb thing clocked me at 7mph. Woof. Everything hurt. I was given my cue cards for the end and my drop bag. I smashed my Code Red, nursed my gatorade, and gave away my High Life. It hurt to swallow solid food, but the uncrustables were just soft enough to still put down. I packed up my rice cakes, cookies, and shot bloks. I sat on a bench for a long while and just tried to collect myself. With some positive comments from other cp2 attendees I settled on just pedaling to the next c-store and then figuring it out from there. It was *only* 65 miles away. I left cp2 at 11:17pm, already behind the cutoff time.

All I had to do was pedal to the c-store. I have three water bottles, a bunch of food I can't eat, and "2" packages of shot bloks. Side note, I actually had four packages on me, but somehow lost count of what I had eaten? It was slow going. I found myself walking up some of the hills because I'd slip my back tire trying to pedal on a bad line and once the bike stopped I was in no condition to start back up on the incline. I had been hearing phantom wahoo/garmin beeps for the last eight hours and occasional phantom voices for about the last four. I also saw a deer run across the road in front of me, except that the deer was completely jet black and also it didn't actually exist. Things were starting to get weird.

I took a wrong turn at mile 7.8. When I reach the intersection I knew I was supposed to turn, but I got confused and when I checked my cue card I saw the R on 7.8 and didn't notice the previous instruction. It took a little over a mile before I figured out what happened. I backtracked and fixed things up. My lap mileage is now off, but it wasn't egregious and with a little bit of math I could still sort things out from one cue to the next. It wasn't much longer before I took another wrong turn. I was supposed to hang a right on Mockingbird Pl. But apparently There''s a Mockingbird Ave less than a mile beforehand. My lap numbers were already wrong and I wasn't sure of my math anymore and "Mockingbird" is right there so I turned right. I was only supposed to ride a half mile before the next turn, but instead rode a mile and a half before stopping because I saw another cyclist ahead of me. He made the same mistake as me, but I have no clue why he rode the extra mile down the road. We stood there and figured out what went wrong which took a hot second because I knew for a fact that we were definitely standing on Mockingbird. He's the one that noticed the Ave vs Pl situation.

That's two wrong turns within the first page of cues. In the two hours since I left cp2 I only managed to bike 18 miles and four of those didn't even count because they were off-route. I'm not even making up any time. There was a town about one mile away from where I was currently standing. I gave my wife a call to pick me up and texted the race directors that I'm scratching at mile 209. It's 1:19am. I'm out. I pedaled my way to town and wouldn't you know there's a bar still open. It takes my wife an hour to reach me and I bide my time chatting with all three people in the bar.

What Will I Do Differently Next Year?
Gotta have a lower gear. At least a 1:1 ratio. Lots and lots of different ways to achieve this within my current build, but I think that 1:1 or better will really help out in the long haul.
No lovely saddlebag zipper. Two bottles inside frame and two bottles under my saddle (no more b-rad). Tools and maintenance in a bottle cage under the downtube. Run a Flare for a rear light.
More varied nutrition. More candy. I love candy. Gotta keep those spirits up.
Putty knife was great, but something smaller and more pokey would also be good. Maybe a tiny wirebrush too?
If I were to be truly competitive I'd have to use something else to hold my cue cards. For my purposes what I was using was fine. Nothing I'm going to change, but food for thought.
Ibuprofen all day long.

Crumps Brother fucked around with this message at 15:34 on Apr 24, 2021

Crumps Brother
Sep 5, 2007

Get Equipped with
Ground Game

Literally Lewis Hamilton posted:

Pinning numbers on my skinsuit when I don’t have a teammate is a pain. Anyone used the racedots on a bike?
I tried it once for a cx race and it did not go well. I wondered if a light spray glue might work out though.

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