Monday, September 28, 2020

2020 Ride For Randy


As I write this, as I do most nights, sitting alone in a house devoid of another living creature it's almost unfathomable to imagine the impact Randy had on this world. As a cyclist in the relatively small cycling community of Lincoln, you would expect him to have an impact on those folks but it's not just Lincoln's cycling community and it's not just cyclists. When Randy was initially killed people stepped up to help his family with unforeseen expenses and funeral costs by raising tens of thousands of dollars in their time of need. Then again a few months ago, those same people stepped up and raised tens of thousands of dollars again to make sure that the Randy Gibson bench will get built. It was by and far the most successful campaign that the Lincoln Parks and Rec had ever been a part of, it was such an influx of money in a short period of time that it took them days after the end of the event to raise for them to be able to fully tabulate the total dollars donated. In all people from 3 different countries, 28 states and 107 unique cities donated to make the families dream a reality. 



Wednesday was 3 years since Randy was killed out on Sprague road riding his bicycle, Saturday there were a number of rides in and around Lincoln to memorialize Randy and to celebrate who he was. Our group started out from Cycle Works on a route that would eventually get us to the stop sign that has affectionately become Randy's sign at the intersection he was killed.






After a few mild days summer reared it's ugly head again on Saturday to make sure we knew it wasn't quite fall yet. Temps were in the 90s and the wind was whipping at 20+ mph with gusts up into the 30 mph range. Every pedal stroke we rode south, into the wind, was well earned.





There was already a small group there when we arrived and as we sat there talking and taking in the shade, more and more arrived all the time.

Photo Sep 26, 4 54 33 PM


As is tradition, I carry a new RG sticker with me when we head out there. The sticker from last year was still hanging tough but I decided to put the new sticker up next to it anyway.


Having shared in the moment we all departed at the same time as one larger group, as the group rode on riders would splinter off towards wherever it was they were heading.



Our group headed over to Traditions Pub in Sprague for some food and drink before continuing back to Lincoln. 





Back in Lincoln we pulled up to Saro for a porch cider before heading back to the shop and the end of the ride. It was nice sitting on the patio talking to good friends and just enjoying the day, it won't be too long now that patio sitting days will be gone for the year so might as well enjoy them now. 

I really love these Saturday rides, having moved to Omaha a few years back it gives me a reason to come back and spend time with my Lincoln friends. As someone who has moved around a bit in life I can tell you that moving is one of the biggest factors in losing contact with people in your life. All I can say is make that drive, spend that $20 in gas, go out of your way to meet up with friends; even if it sometimes seems like that drive is mostly one way, go anyway. At the end of the day you never know how many more Saturdays you have left to see the people that matter in your life. I don't know about you but I'd rather let them know when their still here how I feel rather than let their SO know how great they were after it's too late. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2020 Solstice 100




I have been to every single Solstice 100 Gravel Grinder, I've been there well before the riders and often still there after they have all left. My body has felt tired after each one, my legs dead, my back aching and sleep coming easily when I finally got to lay my head down late that night. I've been to every single Solstice 100 Gravel Grinder but until this year, I had never raced any of them.  


Joe had apparently had enough of my "help" so he called me up waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy back in January or February offering me a spot if I wanted to race in the Solstice in June. I said sure, why not, and while I couldn't see him, I am pretty sure he was doing his happy dance where ever he was.



June came and June went and still no Solstice race due to the world going to poop, I was beginning to think that it just wasn't going to be in the cards for me this year either. It wouldn't have been a total surprise since the rest of the gravel racing scene has pretty much been shut down this year, yet here we were on a crisp September morning getting ready to race.


The Giant Revolt got the nod as Saturday's sled of choice for the race. I had hoped to have had several races on the Revolt by this point in the year but as it turned out, this would be the first non-virtual event we would try our luck at. This bike is meant to be ridden fast, it's been a stellar machine when I've ridden it but unfortunately it's not gotten a lot of time in gravel events this year and even more unfortunate our time together is coming to a close.



Gone this year was the traditional mass start that is commonplace at these types of events, instead each category had a 30 minute windows in which to start so that people could stagger their launch onto the course. The usual crew arranged a time to meet up and we sort of rolled out in a mini group right around 7:25 which allowed the 100 and 50 people to both be within their designated windows of departure. Most of the crew opted for the Solar Fiddy this year with most not feeling in race shape like they normally would have been this late in the season. I'm actually having a pretty good year, already eclipsed last years total and we still have a few months left in the year that has been 2020 so I stuck with the full 100.




Since it was almost fall and not the beginning of summer, the temps were much better for racing bicycles but wind was going to be a factor. Steady SSE winds in the teens to start and then increasing into mid 20 mph range with gusts up to 30 mph as the day went on meant you wanted to not dilly dally out the gate since we went into that wind for the first half or so of the course. The hazy smoke from the wildfires out west made for a fairly spectacular sunrise.




Up until Friday night I wasn't exactly sure what kind of race I was going to attempt, I had some goals and that was about it. Goal number one was to cut down on the amount of time spent at SAG stops. Over the years I have added 1-2 hours of non-riding time to longer races by lingering a little bit too long at the stops, for the Solstice I was going to make an effort to cut that significantly. My other goal was to try to not spend all day out there, something under 8 hours seemed like it was more than plausible if goal number one was achieved. A 13 mph average would get me back into Beatrice in just under 8 hours, that seemed totally possible. Without the mass start, there were no rabbits to chase so I just rode out at a decent pace that I felt was quick but not so fast that I'd blow up by the halfway point. As it turned out, I felt really good and once things started clicking the pace started to tick up a bit too. It wasn't too long before it was just Carlos, Dave and I from our group. That was kind of expected though since most of the rest of the group was only in it for 50 miles. As much as I love riding with the gang, I was a little concerned about not making any of my goals if I rode in the bigger group for 50 and then still had another 50 to do once they were hitting the showers. So the three of us just kept spinning the cranks at a quick but controlled pace.



McColgan Photography was out on the course snapping photos, he had a knack for making me look pretty good on Saturday. I'll have to remember to drop and extra 6 pack off at his doorstep sometime soon.



Carlos, Dave and I rolled into checkpoint one together at mile 30. We were making decent time and I was still feeling really good at this point, so far things were going as planned. Dave and I said goodbye to Carlos, we thought the 50 and 100 split here, and Sarge and I rode off... some of us with meat in our mouth, Hannibal Smith style.





Not too far from Barneston we ran into Quigley (Larry for those not in on the story) who was not having a great day, something was causing his tubeless to not hold and what ever that was, was also puncturing his tubes. Three tubes down he called for a ride and we happened to roll up on him while he was waiting for rescue. It's too bad as it seemed like he was otherwise having a great day on the bicycle.


The staggered start meant that there weren't a lot of crowds, which was the point, but it seemed odd to be in a race and not see many other racers. Dave and I did sort of do a yo-yo with Paul and his buddy from North Platte for most of the race between Barneston and Diller.



At about mile 63 we rolled into Steele City and checkpoint 2 where we ran into Roy. We filled up on water, grabbed some food and we were back on the road in a timely manner. Well, almost, I did have to pry Dave from a conversation he was having with a local about the festivities going on in Steele City. I think Dave had dollar signs in his eyes trying to figure out how to sell his wares there next year, I on the other hand just wanted to keep that non moving time to a minimum.



The section between Steele City and Diller was the worst section of the day, especially after turning that corner in Endicott and heading into that SSE wind. We took a bit more time at the Diller checkpoint to recover a little and grab much needed food and drink. 20 miles to go I was feeling good still and we were about to get into some of the longer tailwind sections.


Photo Sep 20, 6 11 50 AM

Photo Sep 20, 6 12 42 AM

Dave and I rolled across the finish together wheel to wheel, which seemed fitting since we had spent the day taking turns pulling one another through the Solstice 100. I honestly didn't feel horrible at the end, I was glad it was over but for a 100 mile bike race I felt surprisingly good. I also checked off all of my personal goals for this race, we came in at 6 hours 46 minutes beating the 8 hour time I had set by quite a good margin. We only had about a half hour of non moving time, that was fantastic, and we managed a respectable 15 mph for moving time.

Joe designed a great course. The Revolt was a dream to race, it flew over everything that the course threw at it. Whoever picks it up once the demo is done will be getting a heck of a race bike, all day grinder or even daily commuter rolled up into one. I also have to thank Cycle Works for being the radtastic shop and people that they are and for allowing me to ride for them all these years.

Photo Sep 19, 5 11 26 PM

And then of course there are these amazing people, with which the after race shenanigans happened.