Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Made Up Facts Of Life

You take the good, you take the bad, 
you take them both and there you have 
The facts of life, the facts of life. 

There's a time you got to go and show 
You're growin' now you know about 
The facts of life, the facts of life. 

When the world never seems 
to be livin up to your dreams 
And suddenly you're finding out 
the facts of life are all about you, you. 

It takes a lot to get 'em right 
When you're learning the facts of life. (learning the facts of life) 
Learning the facts of life (learning the facts of life) 
Learning the facts of life. 

If you don't know who Tootie Ramsey is/was and you have no clue what show the lyrics above came from this blog is clearly not for you, I'm not really sure who this blog is for but it's clearly not for people unfamiliar with 80's television so you can just move on to another blog now... no, seriously BEAT IT! 

Growing up in the 80's the Facts of Life was one of the shows I watched religiously, kinda had me a crush on Jo to be honest, just something about a tom-boy I guess. I always worried about what happened to those girls after they left good ole Eastland Academy, especially Tootie being so innocent and gullible and wanting to be an actress, never a good combo for the scum in L.A. As it turns out though, she met what I can only assume is a nice man named Lawrence and they now have a farm not too far from Omaha! Out of respect for her privacy, even if she is a washed up has been celebrity, I decided not to knock on the door but rather just took this pic to remember the time I came within feet of meeting her. It's probably for the best, people are never how you remember them and it probably just would have tarnished my memories of her I had as a kid. 


Other than the almost sighting of Tootie the rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, I haven't been doing as much riding as I should be since moving up to the big O. Some of it is the lack of good connector trails to get from A to B but most of it is just plain laziness, gotta fix that, lazy is as lazy doesn't. Clouds were pretty amazing again last night though.


Big happenings out on 180th and Schram Rd(ish), looks like widening, maybe paving work, hopefully not the later; keep gravel, gravel. I guess only time will tell but lots of equipment out there and the roads closed. I did figure out a few things last night though, I either need to get stronger, change the gearing on the single speed or quit being a fat-ass and lose some weight. Pushing the monocog up and down gravel rollers wasn't exactly a piece of cake. Somehow managed to turn in a better average speed than I did on almost the same route on the geared cross bike though, must be due to the fact that I don't have gears to use as a crutch and just need to man up and pedal.


Hard to believe it's already the end of July and the days are starting to get shorter, won't be long before after work rides will have to be much shorter in order to not get caught out after dark. Darkness isn't a cyclist friend especially out on these gravel roads. Guess I better get busy getting those miles in before the entire state turns into a frozen cornsicle.

Friday, July 25, 2014

ThNNDDR - Same Places, New Faces

Hard to believe that it's already the end of July and we've only managed 4 Thursday Night No Drop Dirt Rides this season because of weather issues, it's been a wacky spring and early summer in Nebraska for sure.


Started out with a smallish group from Cycle Works but would meetup with a few more at various spots on the trails. This was Matt's (left) first ThNNDDR, hope he comes back for more.


Park was in really good shape last night, trails were dry and even dusty in a few spots... and the city mowed a nice clear path so we didn't even need to fight the tall grass and weeds.

Lost Matt for a bit and met up with a few more riders out on the trails. Matt took a corner too fast and went down, nothing serious but by the time he got back up and going and we realized he wasn't behind us we were a bit ahead of him, we zigged and he zagged ending up on the Jamaican trail while we looked for him on the singletrack so it took a few to find him but in the end we all met back up and as they say all's well that ends well.

Serious talk going on here, camping, grocery shopping and Cornhusker State Games planning... high level stuff really.

Adam and his friend even brought some refreshments for after the ride (technically they brought them for the hustle... but that ended up being next week and not this week like they had thought so we reaped the benefits of that little faux pas) they went down smooth even if they were slightly warm. It's a little disheartening that the sun is already getting a little low on the horizon by the time we finish these rides, won't be long before the season will be over and any riding after work will require a light. Here's hoping the sun and the warmth holds on just a little bit longer, not ready for the dark and cold just yet.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Drink, Ride and Repeat


The beer was cold and the weather was dry and unseasonably mild for the fourth installment of the Tour de Brew LNK ride last night featuring none other than long time local brewery Empyrean. It was also the release of their very tasty seasonal brew, Domino Effect, my second favorite seasonal they put out right behind Fallen Angel.


The little ride that could has been growing steadily in the last few weeks but an article in the Lincoln Journal Star this week was certain to peek some interest with those who were not yet familiar with the event, so it was nice to get there a bit early and avoid what was sure to be massive crowds of cyclists.


Empyrean brewed up a Mango India Wheat Ale for the event and had the keg tapped and ready to go by the time we arrived at Cycle Works. It was delicious, probably one of my personal favorites as far as the  "special brews"  go that have been served up from the various brewers during these rides. I wasn't alone in that thought either because it went quick, tried to go back and get a second cup but it was already too late as the keg was dry.


Luckily they also had $2 bottles of Dark Side Vanilla Porter and Domino Effect on hand to help me drown my sorrows about the Mango India Wheat Ale. Those brewers are so thoughtful and always prepared.


It just so happens that Cycle Works is running their summer sale right now as well... and apparently you can purchase your very own Canadian MTB sensation, Emily Batty, I bet with the Canadian/US dollar exchange rate being what it is right now you could probably get a heck of a deal so make sure you stop on down and get an Emily of your very own!


Had a pretty good group doing the ride tonight, there were actually two more of us that should have been in the picture but we weren't moving fast enough for them so they took off ahead of the rest of us. I think Jonathan said something about needing to be home by the time the street lamps came on so he could get a bath in before bedtime.


Also managed to get another beautiful shot of the top of my helmet as well, if you ask me I think I missed my true calling and should have gone into action photography. I think I'll just keep that in the hip pocket in case I ever need a career change.


Did I mention that there were going to be a lot of people on the ride? I think all told there were over 160 riders last night, which was easily the most we've ever had for the Tour de Brew LNK.


The problem with a good turn out is that it puts a lot of pressure on smaller places like Flatwater Bistro and they simply didn't have the room for all of us on top of their usual Thursday patrons, this resulted in a line just to get in. How long was the wait, no clue exactly but Alix was clean shaven with a buzz cut when he first got in line and now look at that mane. Seriously though, not the fault of Flatwater at all, not many places in Lincoln could accommodate that many people at one time and everyone took it in stride and simply scattered about the Haymarket looking for other options for food.


Since it was going to be crowded at the next location as well and because none of us had ever been there but we knew they had food we decided just to head on to 12th Street Pub and get a table there and eat before they got slammed.


Vince Adam actually came up with the idea, the rest of us just didn't disagree with the logic, one smart dude there, must have worn his helmet as a kid saving the noodle for thinking as well as a stylish place to hold a cycling cap. It was a good call though, nobody was there yet and we were able to get our food and drink ordered well before the hoard descended upon the poor, hapless waitresses.



Fast forward 45 minutes and the people per square foot ratio skyrocketed, I'll say it again, that Vince Adam is a freakin genius.




Food was good, beer was cold and refreshing and the company was great.


Time for prizes, everyone's favorite time of the night.


Well except for me that is, I had my usual string of "luck" return and came up with a big goose egg in the prizes department.


Not everyone in the group shared my unluckiness though, Vince ended up with a sweet Empyrean jersey.


And Alix must have had an entire pocket full of rabbits feet because he could not lose, big winner of the night as he must have walked away with 5-6 prizes.


Personally I think it was the half mast unicorn helmet that he wears bringing him all that luck. It's a little know fact but once you de-horn a unicorn the once proud horn flops over like the dorsal fin on Orca whale in captivity.


Once the prizes were given out, the food was eaten and the beer drank it was time once again to close the curtains on another amazing Tour de Brew LNK ride and part ways with friends both old and new until the next time. It'll be sad when these rides are over for the year but it's inevitable, summer is already half in the books and the days are just going to get shorter and cooler from here... well maybe not cooler quite yet since we've been fortunate enough to have a fairly mild summer so far. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Firecracker Fiddy


Not sure why (probably one too many blows to the head while biking) but for some reason it sounded like a good idea to get up at 4:30 am on the 4th of July so that I could ride in the Firecracker 50 in Seward Nebraska hosted by the Great Plains Bicycling Club, first time I've ever ridden it. Had a pretty good crowd already by 6:45 am when we got there so I obviously wasn't the only crazy fool up way too early on a day off.


Looking at the clouds while we were rolling out of Seward I figured rain would be the main concern we would have to deal with, ended up being the wind that would have it's say on the ride this day instead of rain, ended up feeling like I was biking against a blow dryer. I'm not math genius but our average speed for the first 25 miles was 17.8 mph, because of the 20+ mph head wind on the way back it dropped the average speed for the whole ride down to 14.9. Again not a mathematician at all but it's way slower on the way back if it drops the overall average down 3 mph but how much slower I couldn't tell you but it was a huge difference to drop it that much.


Since it was a free ride the SAG was limited to just this one station at about 10 miles out of Seward, because it was a loop however you encountered it again at mile 40 before heading back into Seward. It was much more welcomed at mile 40 on this day than it was at mile 10.



Once we made the turn away from the tailwind the real struggle began, this unassuming bar in Brainard at about mile 27 was a true godsend as an unofficial SAG station as I didn't see another gas station until we got all the way back to Seward. The awesome thing about small town bars, other than the fact that they still exist, is that they are not only a bar but they are the social hub (think Facebook before Facebook existed and people actually sat across a table from each other and talked to each other) of the community, the place where everyone goes to hang, even children until the evening hours. If it weren't for the fact that these bars are often the only place to go in a small town it probably wouldn't have had any thing but beer and liquor but luckily it was fully stalked with cooler of soda, Gatorade and other convenience store fare. Thank god for small town bars!

The push back to Seward was awful fighting a constant 25+ headwind all the way back, luckily I was able to hook onto the end of a 4 person pace line at about mile 35, even that little bit of wind block made life a lot more enjoyable for the last 15 miles. Unfortunately we all got kind of stacked up on the way back because of the fierce wind and I lost my riding partner somehow, kept looking over my shoulder and just catching a glimpse of another rider that I assumed was him... as it turned out he had a few leg cramps on the last push and had to go into survival mode. Even with the wind it still ended up being a decent ride, one I will probably do again next year how can you beat a free ride.

ThNNDDR - Finally Dry

The Thursday Night No Drop Dirt Ride just happened to fall on July 3rd this week, which under normal circumstances might be reason enough to skip it for the week. However this spring and early summer have been anything but normal with the constant cycle of rain so when I heard that Wilderness Park was actually dry and ride able I decided to have the ride anyway. Hard to believe this is only the 2nd official ride of the season and the last one was back in May.


Wasn't sure if we'd get any people to show up with it being the day before the 4th of July holiday or if it'd just be Gary and I out there but as it turned out there were four of us... seems fitting for the holiday. As a little pre-celebration, Adam brought a few fireworks that we lit at the Van Dorn trail head before entering the Park.




The Park did not disappoint, the trails were fast, flowy and smile inducing.


Due to all the recent rains there were several sections that were extremely overgrown and even a few downed trees.




Being the responsible trail users that we are and because we didn't want anyone to impale themselves on a branch we decided to clear the trail of the two downed trees we came across. Thanks to Gary for the use of his camera and Joy for the photography work.


Riding and trail work always makes you thirsty, riding with others just gives you a chance to share.


Great group for the ride on Thursday, hopefully we are done with the rain, rain, repeat cycle for a bit so that we can get in many more of these rides before the summer slips away.