Thursday, July 22, 2021

Monday, June 28, 2021

Urban Gravel and Coffee Ride

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Is Vlogging the natural transition from blogging, like typing is to handwritten stories or are we already well past that and I need to up my Tik Tok game? Since acquiring the GoPro and figuring out how much time goes into producing even an halfway decent video that isn't just 35 minutes of you riding in real time set to music, the ole blog has sort of taken a bit of a back seat here as of late. In a perfect world a person would have unlimited amounts of times to do all those things they wanted to do without being interrupted by things they have to do. We, or at least I, don't live in that world unfortunately but I'm trying to figure out balance... Danielson.

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After a few weeks of back to back races we attempted to finally have a normal Saturday ride, then Mother Nature literally rained on our parade. I had toyed with the idea of getting into Wilderness Park earlier in the week but that didn't happen and with rain overnight Friday even the gravel seemed like it might be a no go early Saturday. Fear not, where there is a will there is a way and on Saturday that way was to have an in town gravel ride. Well, some gravel anyway in the form of several alleys. No clue how many people who come out cheer or groan at the idea of riding alleys but I dig them and it adds a different view instead of riding the same trails and roads. Traffic is also almost nonexistent on them so that is also one less worry with a larger group of people.

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Also ventured down some quiet neighborhood streets to stay off the multi-use trail that hugs the edge of a busy street, who wants that on a peaceful bicycle ride. Even scooted across the mostly forgotten levee trail north of Holmes Lake, there was a time when there was more gravel than grass on this trail but due to lack of use nature has tried to reclaim it and done a pretty good job of it if not for the mowers.

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Hit up the newly opened Filling Station in the old Panic building and then the Haymarket White Elm location before heading back to the shop and calling it a day. Good little ride, great group of people and a fun day overall. Why can't they all be like this.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Loess Hills Enduro - Year of the Butterfly

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Saturday was the Loess Hills Enduro put on by the folks at the Omaha Trek Store and Harvest Racing. I'm a bit behind on keeping up with the blog lately, heck haven't even done a Buffalo Bill write up but you know, sometimes life things happen that keep you away from technology and that's not always a bad thing. Any who.. I think I've been to 3 of these now and they've all been challenging, even when they were the Good Life Gravel Gran Fondo, but the course is also very unique with the Loess Hills as the backdrop for several of the MMRs. This is the first year I can remember riding it that it wasn't close to the temperature of the sun during the ride so that was a nice change.

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Despite the rains on Friday we still managed to get in most of the really run roads around Malvern and the big climb still sucked as it does every time we go up it. I sometimes wonder how "easy" it would be to navigate in a two wheel drive vehicle.

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Legs were feeling pretty good and the bike was preforming pretty okay-ish, love that 2X setup but I wish that front derailleur would shift a bit more consistently. It got well used on Saturday trying not to burn the legs out pushing that 40 T up the big hills. There was even a wild Schmidty sighting during the race too and I got to ride with him for about the last 20 miles or so. And the butterflies man, they were crazy. Swarms of them everywhere on course, if a vehicle passed and scared them up they were even worse. Thankfully I never swallowed one but I imagine it wouldn't have been that difficult to do even if you weren't trying to.

With the introduction of video I have noticed I've been not taking as many pictures, need to work on that a bit but it is what it is. Good times, fun race. Next up is the Solar Fiddy on the 19th.

 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Beware The D10

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Not sure who decided it was time but someone flipped on that humidity switch on Saturday, looks like spring temps might be done for the year and summer heat is here. But we had donuts and sometimes donuts are enough, they don't help with humidity but they also don't make it worse.

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Cloud cover in the morning helped to keep temps somewhat mild but the sprinkles and overall moisture level did not help with that at all. Once the thick cloud cover burned off, nothing helps as we stewed in our own juices.

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The plan was to head out east to Bennet and then circle around to the north before coming back in on the MoPac with a visit to The Hut. The belt way is progressing nicely but is a bit of a PITA to get around right now, we had a little run in with a construction guy who had to jump in his truck and fly across the 200 yards of dirt to let us know we were in imminent danger of being run down by a 190,000 lbs, 15 foot tall bulldozer somewhere in the last 25 yards of road in front of us. Little buggers are sneaky too because I didn't see a single one of them anywhere near us but just to be safe he had us turn around and travel a greater distance back through the danger zone, for our own saftey and not at all because he just wanted to.

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A little ways down the road we managed to find a dozer free zone and managed to continue on unmolested. After all that danger we worked up quite the thirst so naturally a ditch beer stop was in order.

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After a brief stop at Casey's for some pie and a cold drink it was on to The Hut before pushing on toward Lincoln.

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A few of us continued on for some pizza from Yia Yias and an ice cold cider from Saro before calling it a day. Despite the deary start the day ended up being pretty darn good and I might have even gotten a little sunburned for my efforts. Next weekend I think we are going to head out to Saunders county for 66 miles of gravel around the Prague, Weston, Colon area. Should be a great time with a few bigger hills thrown in to keep it interesting.

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

2021 Slothful Stallion

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Three years ago at the height of gravel races popping up all over the place and former road racers gravel-tating to those races, the tiny burb of Ohiowa decided to go another way and hatched an idea for a gravel tour instead of a gravel race. That idea became the ride with a thousand monikers or if you're speaking officially, the Lazy Horse Gravel Grind. Not a lot has changed in the format of the ride in the three years it's been around and not much really needs to change. While there were about 40 miles of new roads on the long course this year we still hit up the same small towns that we did in the previous two versions and I was quite okay with that. I'm a big fan of supporting the rural towns of Nebraska that are off the beaten path, these are true American treasures and they are dying off. You can tell that the small towns that route passes through go all out to show their appreciation for the cyclists and welcome us with opened arms.  Seeing the same volunteers year after year you start to recognize them and they start to remember you also so it's almost like an extended family reunion. What's not to love about that?
I'm not sure who is in charge of tourism in Nebraska but the fact that they are not shining a spotlight on the almost endless miles of virtually car free gravel almost borders on criminal. It wouldn't take too much effort, IMO, to meet with some of these small rural villages and string together several gravel routes that both Nebraskans and visitors could travel. The only real requirement would be to find enough villages with lodging and services available, even if that lodging was camping. Even our neighbors to the east have figured out that bicycles bring in money.  

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New this year was a fully dry start. Until this we hadn't had one of those yet, the previous two years it rained the night before and left the roads a little more supple than even the #supplelife folks would like. One of the perks of the Lazy Horse is that you can make it whatever kind of ride you want. If you want to go fast, you can. If you want to go slow, take in the scenery and enjoy the time with friends you can do that too. It's like one of those choose your own adventure books that were popular in the 1800s when I was a young lad but with fewer paper cuts. With the roads being bone dry and a little dusty someone flipped that adventure book to race mode to start out and we booked it out of the gate at a blistering 16.7 mph average to the first town. That might not sound like all that quick of a pace for the seasoned gravel connoisseur but the town elders really get a kick out of the fat bikes so we try to oblige them so a pace near 17 mph is plenty fast when your pushing portly bicycles with bulbous tires. When nicely adorned for a full day of adventuring the Pugsley is equal in weight to 3+ of those nimble carbon bikes that are popular with the go fast crowd.

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Alexandria, NE was the first town we rolled into and just like previous years the burritos at the church were delicious. Also on course again this year was event photographer Andrea who always seems to be in the right place at the right time to get the great shots.

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There were a fair amount of minimum maintenance roads on the course this year, something we missed out on the last two years due to the overnight rain. As fun as they are when dry nobody wants to ride down one when it's wet if they can help it. I was super stoked that everything worked out his year because they were all in fantastic shape and were a blast to ride.

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If you hadn't connected the dots just yet the ride is put on by the winery turned beer-ery(?) of the same name so there is no shortage of ice cold barley pops to help with hydration and socialization.

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Gilead is a perennial favorite of the group, the pie never disappoints whether you eat it by itself or go upscale and pair it with a scoop of ice cream and a super swanky banquet beer. While small town Nebraska folk might look at you funny for photographing your food, they don't much care how you take your pie.

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Next up on the tour is Belvidere, Nebraska which has become known to us as the official home of the walking taco, some in the group will forgo food earlier in the ride to save room for the tacos served in the village park. Despite knowing that Belvidere, Nebraska and Mr. Belvedere have no connection what-so-ever I always half expect to be greeted by Christopher Hewitt donning a tie, sweater vest and English accent when we arrive at the park. It has never happened... not even once... despite my unfounded and unfettered giddiness when we roll into town. While it would be near impossible to get Christopher Hewitt since he passed in 2001, one might be able to convince Stacy (Fergie) Ferguson to make an appearance.... what, you didn't know that Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame once had a brief roll in Mr. Belvedere? Your lack of 80's sitcom trivia knowledge is disturbing.

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The last stop on the Lazy Horse express is always Brunning, Nebraska and the volunteer fire station. Larry is a big hit here and they call him out by name and might have even given him a ride on the fire truck but who among us doesn't love Larry.

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Despite having all day to ride the 60ish miles, we always seem to just make it to the raffle drawing and this year was no exception. I had a gift care waiting form me from an earlier drawing but didn't take home any of the raffle swag this year. Food was good, beer was good, showers were refreshing, I got to spend all day riding with friends and I made a new fur buddy at the end... that was win enough for me.