Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My Moby-Dick

This is not a tale about a 55 year old, bald rapper or male genitalia so you can all rest easy with that knowledge and continue on without fear of something white and wrinkly popping up unannounced.

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This little gem came in the mail yesterday, I knew something was coming since I got a notification something was on the way but to be honest when that blip came flashing across my texts I had no idea exactly what this way cometh. You see, I had almost completely forgotten about that email back in late November from the fellas who ran the C.O.G 100. In that email they let all of the registered racers know that there would not be a C.O.G 100 race in 2020 or even in 2021. Reading the email back in November the rhythm and flow painted a grim picture for the C.O.G happening again, ever, if you read between the lines. In that November email the registered riders were given a few options on what we wanted to do with our entry since the race was not going to happen any time soon. Those options  ranged from doing nothing and letting it ride for a future event to basically donating your entry and swag back to Guitar Ted and NY Roll so that they could try to sell the swag and recoup some of the costs they had already shelled out. Like the selfish prick I am I opted to have my name removed from the roster but wanted the hat. I just didn't know that this is what was in the mail and on it's way when I got that initial text. 

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Honestly it wasn't that dickish in my head, the Real American Gravel hat went nicely with the other COG 100 hat I had from the first race in 2019 plus I have a bit of a hat collection if truth be told. As a hat collector, one as rare as this was a much desired addition and one I could not pass up. I mean come on, how many of these hats could possibly exist in the entire world? Additionally since November it has been verified that the C.O.G 100 is in fact dead for good. That bit of news along with the announcement by Guitar Ted that he was also stepping down from organizing any further events also now makes the hat a nice nostalgia piece. Something to talk about with the great, great grand kids some day. Maybe.

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But it’s also a bit more than just having a cool hat really, I was determined to give the C.O.G another go in 2020 and try to redeem myself a little for the ass kicking I took in 2019. The race was always going to be difficult, it was 100 miles of gravel on a single speed after all but conditions were miserable in 2019 and that multiplied the suck factor. It had just rained the night before, it was cold and the winds were whipping across the fruited plains. You can read my post race write-up for that HERE if you so chose to read about that as I'm not going to rehashing it here. The flashbacks man, the flashbacks.

With the demise of the race I thought that the C.O.G 100 would always be my Moby-Dick, the one that got away. Instead of a big white whale biting off my leg, the race directors chomped off all my shifty bits and left me adrift in the gravel seas. Come to thinking of it, Guitar Ted does look more than a little bit like an 1800's sea captain and NY Roll sometimes smells like live bait. Kidding there, a little, but I thought I'd never get the chance to give it another go... sure I could have ridden the same course again, if I could find the cue sheets because there wasn't a GPS file out there to my knowledge. And really, what would have been the point of racing the same 66 mile failed attempt?

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I felt like 2020 was going to be the year, I'd gotten into better shape than I had been in years, I figured out a way to have a lighter, more gravel worthy rig and I had a score to try and settle. No, it wasn't going to magically return all those beautiful shifty bits to my bicycle but Ahab didn't go after the white whale hoping to get his leg back either... it was about the revenge. All is not as dark as it seemed when that email hit my inbox as it turns out. In very un-GT like fashion, Guitar Ted and NY Roll released what would have been the 2020 C.O.G 100! So as it turns out I still have my chance to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, even if it's not an official C.O.G 100. Now I just need to figure out when to do it, I do want to attempt it on a single speed in the true spirit of the race but I'm opting for a much nicer time of year than March in Iowa. I suppose one could argue that is cheating a bit but as the DJ of this particular dance I can change the date as I see fit. I guess it's time to see how serious I was about tackling the C.O.G because as the saying goes; be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.

*Photos of the race were taken by Jon Duke, to the best of my recollection.*

 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Nomad Dave Finds A Place

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Here in Nebraska we seem to be stuck in this pattern where it gets cold near midweek, snows right around or during the weekend, gets warm at the beginning of the week and then repeats itself on and endless spin cycle. That has made for some interesting riding, not to mention driving. Thursday into Friday we had ourselves an honest to goodness, humdinger of a blizzard roll through that didn't drop a ton of snow but the 60 mile an hour gusts caused a fair bit of issues for those who didn't heed the advice and decided to travel anyway. The road to Lincoln on Saturday might have been paved with good intentions but it was littered with vehicles.

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When I had initially planned the ride for Saturday it was supposed to be near 50 degrees and we were supposed to ride gravel out to Malcolm to visit the new coffee shop out there. Unfortunately that didn't pan out as the weather changed faster than a flying toupee in a hurricane or blizzard as the case may be here. So, instead of slip sliding to Malcolm we dropped it low, low, low and decided to head out to see what conditions were like in Wilderness Park.

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The winds blew themselves out and the sun came out but it didn't do a whole lot to warm things up very much in the early morning hours. Thankfully there wasn't a lot of snow that came with the weather so the streets were mostly in great shape with an occasional icy alley or side street.

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Since we had been in a freeze/thaw pattern for a few weeks now it was very fortuitous that we did get a little bit of snow as it covered up the ice and provided just enough traction to prevent one from ending up on our collective buttocks.

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Mostly, the trail under Pioneers Blvd. was an ice rink and several of us slipped a little trying to navigate the dip under and then back up on the other side.

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I thought that the rest of the single track was in near perfect conditions all things considered and we rode it all the way out to the 14th Street parking lot and ran into at least another half dozen cyclist who were also zipping through. Some not even on a fat bike, I would say that anything above 2" would have been more than adequate on Saturday, if you had the skills for when you hit the occasional ice patch you surely could have dipped below that girth and been alright. To be honest this little skiff of snow might have made for the best riding in Wilderness all year so far, once the inches creep up over the five to six inch mark it makes for a lot more work. The one to two inch range gives just enough to cover the ground yet still makes laying down new tracks easy and fast. 

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By the time we made it down to the southern edge of Wilderness that sun was doing it's thing and you could hear a lot more groaning and crunching of the ice beneath the snow. We popped out of the single track, hopped on the new connector bridge and high tailed it down the Rock Island and ended the ride with a hot adult cider at Saro. The perfect end to a perfect winter's day ride.

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After the ride, Honeycutt and I, gained access to the shipping container houses and did a little touring. Turns out Honeycutt is going to be returning to Lincoln this spring and after touring the place has secured the one bedroom for his return. They are pretty nice places and for a person without a family and a ton of worldly possessions who also rides a bike, you can't ask for a better location.

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Krusty Like The Pancake Mix

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Temps had been fairly warm during the week last week, some days above freezing and the rest hovering right near that mark. This lead to some pretty significant snow melting but Saturday dipped back down below zero and was forecast to stay that way most of the day with lots of cloud cover. We headed out to see how Branched Oak's Area 7 was as far as riding was concerned.

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The entirety of the single track was a mixture of crusty snow on top with dry snow underneath, add to that the frozen post holes created by foot falls and it was a slow and arduous time at best. I dressed fairly light because I figured even under the best conditions we would warm up quick, I even miscalculated that and by the time I got a quarter of the way around a loop I was down to two layers of moisture wicking fabric up top and even then I was a sweaty mess.

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Even though the loop is only aobut 5 miles, there were plenty of stops to regroup and cool down. I think our over all average speed around the track was just a bit over 4 mph, yeah it was that kind of day. On the bright side the beer, or in this case cider, was kept cold and went down smooth as silk. I did note that cider in a clear cup looks more than a little like a urine sample provided by a donor not keeping up on their hydration.

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Dan learned that if you roll around in the weeds, cockleburs will still stick to you even in winter.

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Sunday was a chilly one and more of an urban ride but it was the first decent ride over 20 miles this year and the wheels were buried in snow either, so there's that. Warmer temps are in the forecast for this week so if that holds true there might be bigger miles in the plans for next weekend also. Tossing around some crazy ideas for next years gravel schedule so gotta get those numbers up, up and away.

 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Hey Oh, Listen What I Say Oh

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Just about the time most of the snow from our first accumulable snow event of the winter was almost melted, we got hit by round two last Tuesday. I took the week off between Christmas and New Year's so I took full advantage of the snow by breaking out the ole Fartley on Wednesday and heading to Walnut Creek. I think we got around 7-8" with some drifting but being a dry and loose snow it was almost too much for even a fat bike to get around on and still be enjoyable. Some sweat almost always gets oozed for every pedal stroke once it gets to be this deep, it was a sledder's and snowmobiler's paradise more than it was ideal for pedal power but we made the best of it. That bright orb in the sky does not help in this situation at all either, temps can still be below freezing but all that solar power still makes the snow break down slightly.

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New Year's Day temps and the sun were a little more favorable for fat biking but Tranquility was still not quite firm enough in a few spots, getting there but not quite perfect.

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Saturday was near perfect, colder temps and clouds made sure that the snow had firmed up nicely. By Saturday Wilderness Park had also seen some decent traffic on the trails as well.

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The sun did, on occasion, pop out of the clouds and warm us up a bit. As a matter of fact it decided to make an appearance right as we got to our bridge beer stop, timing could not have been better.

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Unfortunately we were also visited by Rascal-ly Flatts and that is never fun but it does work up quite the sweat, even in winter. My Wish is that Flatts never happened but Life is a Highway and some times you just have to Bless the Broken Road that cause you to Flatt. One thing that helps is if they do happen in the winter I'm always Praying for Daylight, that extra light makes it Easy to change the tube so you can be Movin On.

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With less two wheeled traffic, more foot traffic and warming temps the south end of the park was a bit jarring on the hind parts. We ended up bailing onto the Jamaica North limestone path and then hitting up the new, and I guess never plowed, connector trail back into Lincoln.

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All that riding can work up quite a thirst so we hit Saro for a refreshing hot apple cider but then I got a Rumbly in my Tumbly worse than that yellow bear feening for some honey. Luckily Mi Mexio Lindo cured what ailed me and that rumbly was buried beneath a gut bomb of beans, spiced meat and cheese.

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On a side note, the Saturday ride turned 6 on the Sunday after Christmas, doesn't seem like that long ago but it was.