Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Cocaine Pony





Saturday was the fifth running of the Lazy Horse Gravel Grind out of Ohiowa, Nebraska. One of the unique aspects of the LH is that it's a gravel tour rather than a gravel race and usually the pace it much more casual. This was not really the case this year however, perfect temps, very light winds and a relatively flat course had the pace a bit more lively than years past.


I was really attempting to keep the pace low at the beginning but started lagging a bit behind so I stepped it up, I can do any pace you want to do as far as fast or slow but once I get in a groove that's the pace I'm in for the rest of the day. So fast it was going to be on this day. It wasn't just our group though, everybody was flying and this kept the SAG stops pretty hopping. Seemed like all of the stops were wall to wall cyclists, that is not the norm for this event either. Generally we are spread out and there would only be a handful of people at the SAG at the same time.


About the only thing slowing us down on Saturday was the train.




The course was fantastic this year, not that it hasn't been in the previous iterations but this one was something special. A great mix of MMRs, flat sections, hills and a little bit of butt puckering deep gravel to keep you honest about things.

Photo May 20 2023, 11 04 57 AM



There were a few changes as far as the communities we visited, thankfully Belvidere made the cut again this year. It's a great little town and the ladies of the town go all out with walking tacos and pies.



Lost some of the initial group before Belvidere so I hooked up with fellow single speeders, Todd and Joe heading out to Bruning.





Rolled into Bruning in record time drafting off of Team Angry out of Omaha.

Photo May 20 2023, 12 29 12 PM

Photo May 20 2023, 12 24 35 PM

Oddly enough I'm not sure if anyone ate in Bruning like we usually do, one of the side effects of most of the riders sticking together in a big group is that lines were longer than normal and that might have contributed to the drinks only in Bruning but still one of my favorite stops.


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Dave hit his second or maybe third wind heading out of Bruning so I grabbed on and we cruised back to the end. I know I sound like a broken record here but this was a fast year, looking back at the previous 4 years of the event we only finished faster one year. In 2019 we finished in 4 hours and 10 minutes but it was also 10 miles less distance that year, this year we finished in 4 hours and 15 minutes at our highest average MPH of any of the years at 14.6 mph. It was also the first time I can remember not only being back before the prize give away started but being back with enough time to shower, eat and chit chat a bit. Crazy how nice weather and flattish course can really change the overall speed of an event, I think even some of the SAG stops were a little surprised at the speed and volume in which riders showed up this year. That has nothing to do with the event organizers and it's not a hit on the event in any way, it was just the perfect conditions this year for fast times laid down by everyone. Maybe next year there needs to be more hills to spread the group out.

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Fantastic event, fantastic weather, and fantastic friends to ride with. The crew that puts on the event are top notch also... I might be a little biased about that since I'm dating Jackie but she does put in a lot of work to help make the event what it is. They really have something special in this ride. If I had one hit on the event it would be that in all of the 5 years I've been going I have never, ever, ever won any of the SWAG... seems rigged to me. Kidding, slightly, maybe. 


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

S24O, WD40, UB40

Photo May 13 2023, 8 06 11 PM

We as a society love our abbreviations and acronyms, they often get so ingrained that the meaning of the acronym or abbreviation is unknown to most people. Anyone know what the acronyms in the title stand for, without looking? WD40 = Water Displacement 40, because it took the Rocket Chemical Company 40 attempt to get the formula just right. UB40 the popular 80s pop band stood for unemployment benefit form 40 after the form you'd fill out in the UK to receive unemployement benefits... which as a band trying to make it you'd probably be familar with and probably need it. S24O stands for sub 24 hour overnight camping and the one we will focus on here in the blog, although all three could have been in use this weekend. Oddly enough bikepacking seems to be a topic of some discussion on the interweb blogs, maybe because it's getting to be summer and the season of the S24O. If you're into that sort of thing, NY Roll and Guitar Ted did a two part series where they discussed their preferences when it comes to bikepacking. Those can be heard HERE.




Saturday a few of us met at Cycle Works and rolled out to Conestoga Lake for a S24O, this was my second S24O and would be the first time trying out the new Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 bikepacking specific tent. Intially we had gotten it for the Flint Hills bikepacking adventure but with the temps being colder than what we wanted to deal with the camping never happened.

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Photo May 13 2023, 5 08 55 PM

Tents went up fairly quickly and the chairs came out for a day of relaxing, cooking out and conversation. There wasn't a huge turn out but I feel like some of that was that it was Mother's Day weekend and some of it was the weather, we had several days of rain leading up to the trip and there was still chances of rain on the day and the next day. It's too bad really because it ended up being near perfect, temps were in the 70° range with a slight breeze and lots of cloud cover. I'm not a big fan of tent camping in the heat of summer so this was nice, even needed to pull the sleeping bag up over me in the middle of the night it got that chilly.

Photo May 13 2023, 4 27 01 PM

The 1120s performed great again for the trip, if I have one thing I'd do different it would be that the rear bags need to be a little larger. That is my personal opinion or course, I could just learn to pack less and smarter. Other than that I have loved everything else about the bike.

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Photo May 13 2023, 7 34 38 PM

Food cooked over an open flame just seems to taste better and Saturday was no exception, we even had a bit of the perfect marshmallow toasting competition. Even if you don't win, eating the losing marshmallow is still a pretty good conselation prize.



Woke up Sunday mornging to cooler temps and a bit of fog. As is the usual when sleeping in a tent, at least for me, everyone was up and at 'em super early. Some packed up right away and got headed back but we still managed a small group heading back to town.

Photo May 14 2023, 9 47 06 AM

On the way back into town we decided to make a stop at Cultiva for some coffee and breakfast, it was a great decision. I ordered The Dude, one of my favorites, and it hit the spot.

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Photo May 14 2023, 11 22 39 AM

The Mother's Day call came it before we made it back home and an impomptu stop was necessary before making it back to our borrowed driveway parking spot and then the drive home. Great weekend, great temperatures and great group for the first S24O. There is another one in the plans for late September when temps start to cool down again, looking forward to it.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Open Weekend Wandering




Had a bit of an oddity last weekend and ended up not having any planned rides or any plans at all really. Had plans for Saturday morning that kept us from the usual Saturday ride but at the last minute those didn't pan out and things opened wide up. Slept in a little bit on Saturday and then headed down to Marysville and some single track out at Alcove Springs. With the recent rains the "falls" were flowing on Saturday, not something you get to see all the time since the springs for which the area gets it's name are actually below the level of the falls so they don't contribute at all to them.




Sunday was forecast to be a near perfect day for riding so we got up and at 'em a little bit earlier and plotted out a route that would take us through parts of Jefferson, Gage and Saline counties. Wanting to keep the ride at a reasonable distance we opted to drive over to Plymouth to start things out.





We rolled east and north for a bit before getting into De Witt at around mile 10, De Witt like most rural communities have been declining in population since the railroads that made the towns pulled out. De Witt has managed to be one of them though that has been able to convince people to stay for the most part, it's only down about 200 people from it's heyday in 1890. Having a manufacturing business helps these small towns and De Witt has one of the better stories when it comes to that. De Witt is the home of THE original Vise-Grip pliers where William Petersen invented and started selling them in 1924 and continued to do so until 2008 when Rubbermaid, who bought the company in 2002, closed the plant in De Witt and moved production to China after which some say the quality of the tool dropped dramatically. That's not the end of the story though, some of this is fact and some is rumor and speculation but somewhere in the middle is the truth I suppose. When the company was sold and moved overseas the original die used to make the tools were supposed to have been destroyed but rumor has it that this never occurred, instead the die were squirreled away somewhere and kept secret. In 2018 Malco Tools purchased the old De Witt plant and began making a locking plier under the name of Eagle Grip. I'm not saying that the old dies were "discovered" again but look at an old pair of Vise-Grip locking pliers next to a pair of Eagle Grip locking pliers and you might just notice a few similarities. Vise or Eagle, which ever grip you prefer in your locking pliers one thing is for certain, that plant has helped to keep the town more prosperous than many town of their size.


We were a bit early to De Witt and the bar wasn't yet opened so we pushed on to Wilber at around mile 20.



Wilber has been a long standing ride with the group in August when they have their annual Czech Festival, this year will be their 62nd annual running of the event. There weren't any Kolache to be had on Sunday but a quick stop at Casey's for a slice solved the hunger issues. It was a little weird coming into Wilber from the wrong side, in August we have always approached town from the Lincoln side of things so coming at it from the opposite direction was a bit different. Not seeing the hoards of people, vendors and music was also a bit off-putting but all that will be back soon enough and we may just use this same route then for our Wilber ride.



Some pretty decent MMRs out that way coming from the other direction, never met a dry MMR I didn't like.


Kind of a sucker for the old wind mills, this one has been meticulously maintained.. if you look closely just to the left of the top bar of the swinging portion of the gate you can see another little wind mill hiding there between two fence posts. A rare double wind mill!



Sunday was the first really warm day so far this spring with temps nearing 90° and there wasn't much of a breeze to be had for a change so it was nice to run across a center pivot just outside of Plymouth that was trying to get the road to grow by watering it. That water was super cold and felt great on our sun baked skin, a little redneck A/C you might say. You do what you can to keep cool when the days get hot I suppose. Looks like rain most of this week so the riding will be down, hopefully next week we will be back to business as usual.