Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hot Dogs and Gravel Slogs

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Really need to get better about getting these blogs out there into the interwebs quicker, so this one will be a dual write up. Thursday we had our end of the season appreciation picnic for all the riders who came out and rode with us over the summer. Food was good, beer was cold and the company was fantastic. This is our third year doing these at the end of the summer season and they're one of my favorite events, huge heat felt thanks to everyone who came out this summer even if you couldn't make it to the picnic we still appreciated you riding with us.

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While the summer rides might be over for the season the Saturday morning fat bike ride (SMNDFBR) is actually about to hit it's stride as the weather turns colder and gets a bit more on the nasty side. While we are about 50/50 during the summer on fat bikes to non fat bikes that moves more toward the pudgy side once the cold and snow start descending on us.

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Wasn't too sure what we were going to do for this ride, the initial plan had been to head out to Hickman and 9 South Chargrill but that was on Wednesday when the forecast called for dry conditions. Fast forward to Saturday and we were standing around in the shop at quarter to 9 and it was raining off and on, some of it pretty good but Mother Nature is a fat bike lover so she cleared off right around 9:10.

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While the rains might have stopped, it was still wet and really chilly but after talking it over we decided to stick to the original plan weather be damned, so off to the soggy gravel we rode. I love the ladies and guys that we get for this ride, real troopers who rarely complain about the weather and just show up rain, snow or shine prepared to tackle whatever is thrown our way.

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The gravel was soft and wet which gave the advantage to the fatter tires, for once we had to slow up and wait on the skinnier tires. Luckily the councilman made an executive decision and deemed it necessary to pull out the ditch beer and call the meeting to order. On Fleek, was the name of this particular brew and if you're a fan of the dark, heavy stouts and porters this one is... well, on fleek as the name implies.

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We couldn't dilly dally too long though, Todd was getting so hungry he started gnawing on his Ziploc and plastics nothing anyone should be forced to eat.

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For a brief bit the clouds parted and we rode though Roca and onto Hickman under blue skies and sunshine thinking maybe things were looking up weather wise.

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9 South, although not located on South 9th Street in Hickman, is always good and the Hickman location is maybe a touch above the original as far as atmosphere goes. Once done we were greeted outside to wind, cold weather and overcast skies once again, it looked like our sunshine was short lived.

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The wind did help dry things out considerably during the hour we were in Hickman which helped us to quicken the pace on the way back to help stay warm while riding into the brisk headwind.

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Once back on this side of Saltillo Road we regrouped at the shelter and took a quick potty break, this spot is so much nicer since they built the shelter and put a port-o-potty out there. Poor pugs is going to need a bath for sure, she was looking all shiny and pretty for the most part up until this ride but I suppose all that dirt does add a little character.

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Back in Lincoln we high tailed it down to the visitor center and picked up our 2017 Lincoln Beer Tour booklets and then rode over to White Elm for a free beer, followed by Code Beer for a half priced pint, they actually give you two half priced pint so you still get a free beer just in two halves. Although we didn't watch the game, you can generally tell when the Huskers didn't do so well and this was one of those times, while not exactly glum you could tell folks weren't overjoyed either. We will get there again one day, you just gotta have faith and a little patients until we can hit our stride again.

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Once refreshed it was a short jaunt down N Street and back to the shop and the end of another great SMNDFBR. Thanks to all who made it out and for putting up with the weather, hopefully next weekend we will get a little more sun.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Riding With Billy and Dusty

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Although we are still a few weeks away from the official start of fall, it definitely is starting to feel more fall like lately. This morning was no exception with temps in the 60s before the ride, since we were riding Wilderness Park I decided the bike of choice should naturally be the Bucksaw. Such and awesome bike, might have to find time to do a bit more single track before the cold and snow come.

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With the Pony Express 120 going on in Marysville Kansas today, a good portion of the usual group were absent but we still ended up with a really good group for the ride.

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Since we were staying in town this week we decided to take the always awesome N Street Cycle Track through the downtown area.

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First few sections of Wilderness Park were in great shape, a few leaves and a few sticks but overall way better than I expected considering the storms lately. As a bonus we even got to ride with two thirds of ZZ Top, Gary definitely had some beard competition today from Ed.

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The last section on the east side wasn't as good though and we started encountering downed trees which we had to go over, under or around. There was a group of folks from Friends of Wilderness Park that were out there with a chainsaw clearing the trees however so they are probably all gone now. Much appreciated to the guys and gals out there making sure that the trails stay passable, thank you for all that you do.

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We took a bit of a break at the 14th Street parking lot and discussed which way to head back, we figured that the west side was probably in worse shape than the east and we didn't want to be a nuisance for the group clearing trees so we opted to take the Jamaica North trail back into town.

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Back in Lincoln we made a B line for Banwhich Cafe and some tasty Vietnamese food and bubble tea, it was only my second time ever being there but I've not been disappointed yet. Once lunch was in the bag it was just a very short spin back to Cycle Works and the end of another Saturday Morning No Drop Fat Bike Ride. Thank you to all who made it out today, it was a fun change of pace to get back into the Park and have a bit of a shorter but fun ride. See you all next weekend.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When It's Dry, It's Good

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The Heatstroke 100 was a few weeks ago and for the first time this year they added a gravel route, which had a lot of people excited... and then it rained. I had heard that there might have been only two people who finished the entire 100 miles of gravel and both of those guys were on Fat Bike, one of them a SMNDFBR regular.

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I had a hand in helping to come up with the course and I had ridden most of the roads on the route, although not strung together as they were for the Heatstroke, so I knew it would be a good mix of gravel and dirt with some great scenery but unfortunately I was out of town for the official Heatstroke so didn't get to ride it. So, we did the next best thing and rode it last Saturday and conditions were ideal for the ride; albeit we did a slightly modified route cutting out the top portion of the route to whittle it down to a nice 80 miles.

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Weather was absolutely fantastic, it's too bad it couldn't have been the week before for the actual ride. 8 of us set out from Sprague at 8 am on Saturday for 80 miles of great gravel and mmrs; heck one of us even provided a little tech support for a TV issue while in the middle of nowhere... can you hear me now?

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The first 20 miles between Sprague and Clatonia was mostly flat, smooth rolling dirt and gravel roads, even the temps were being cooperative and staying mild making it a great day so far to be out on a bicycle.

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Normally you probably wouldn't stop at mile 20 of a ride but when the course was initially designed for the Heatstroke there were going to be strategically placed SAG stops, we were without that benefit on Saturday and the next stop on the route was Wilber; 54 miles into the ride. Given both the distance and lack of SAG we decided to top off our water just to be safe. Unfortunately nothing was opened in Clatonia and we thought we were going to be out of luck and we would have been if not for the awesome gentleman (possibly the owner) of Legends in Clatonia who allowed us to come in and use the restroom and grab water despite not opening until 5 pm that night. So, if you're ever out and about on your bicycle or just looking for a place close to Lincoln to go for dinner, lunch or drinks definitely keep Legends in mind and help support the folks that support cycling in our great state.

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Leaving out of Clatonia we started hitting the hills (not monsters by any means but a fair amount of rollers) and the minimum maintenance roads in earnest, as well as a few wheel sucking wood plank bridges that had the skinnies a little nervous. The two of us who opted for a less svelte tire crossed with no trepidation at all about those deep crevices. It is after all the Saturday Morning FAT BIKE ride.

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We also ran into a few flats on the section between Clatonia and Wilber, 4 total for the day and all of them in between those two towns. It did however offer us the opportunity to enjoy the Wasatch Black-O-Lantern I had stashed in my Yeti coozy and it was delicious.

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Road graders must have been out fairly recently because we did run into a few decent sections of road that had deep, fresh gravel on them or where the gravel had all been pushed toward the center. Not a whole lot of fun to ride on even on the fat bike but a good deal easier and less pucker inducing than on narrower tires.

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It was a great group, spirits were high, the conversation was good and for the most part we all zipped along at a fairly similar pace on the way to Wilber.

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The plan had been to get something to eat once we got back to Sprague but a few things changed that plan for us, the 4 flats didn't help as we added about an hour or so to our time table plus the heat and the wind both picked up a bit more than we would have liked. So presto change-o and we decided to hit up the Casey's in Wilber for some world famous pizza and some cold beverages.

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Leaving out of Wilber everyone was feeling pretty good again but I think everyone was kind of just wanted to get back to Sprague and get back so that everyone could prepare for the game that night. Not a whole lot of pictures between Wilber and Sprague since it was some of the least scenic stretches of roads and people were picking up the pace a bit to get back. Todd and I, being on the fat bikes, brought up the rear... well that is to say I brought up the rear and Todd was nice enough to stick with me... but somehow we managed to get back to Sprague before the rest of the group except for J.D. due to some weird navigation issues that the lead group had. We did all make it back and I think for the most part we all had a great time, we even managed to maintain the projected 12 mph average we had wanted to keep so if not for the flats we would have been done as expected. Even so we were only slightly behind schedule. It was a great day on a dry and beautiful course that I only wished would have been as good the previous weekend when it was for all the marbles but fear not, since most people didn't ride the course in it's entirety this year I'm sure it will be unchanged for next years Heatstroke. Thanks to everyone who made it out, it's always a pleasure riding with you all.

Just an FYI, as the season starts to change over to fall the Wednesday and Thursday rides have come to and end and to show our appreciation for all those who came out for one of the group rides this year there will be a BBQ behind the shop on Thursday Sept. 14th and we'd love to see you there. Details can be found on the Facebook Event Page, HERE.