Friday, December 17, 2010

One Small Step

Montrose Harbor is home to my favorite race of the year. It was where I watched my first cross race, where later I competed in my first cross race and where I had my best finish, ever. The crap conditions, technical nature of the courses and huge crowds feed every craving my cyclocross super-ego begs of me.

This year about mid-way through the season, when I finally got into the call ups, I knew I wanted to podium at Montrose. That desire became serious motivation at 5:ooam on bitter cold, pitch black mornings.

This year, Montrose once again delivered all the best parts of cyclocross. What follows is the launch sequence and subsequent flight that is The Illinois State Cyclocross Championships.

T-4 Weeks
The race in Woodstock was run on a great new course. More compact and more technical. I cracked the top five for the first time all season and was seeing my form take shape. I was in the call ups and feeling good.

T-3 Weeks

Indian Lakes Day 2 was hard. The wind was relentless and insulting, and ended up being a major player. I had a good race and was able to dig deeper than I had all Fall. I finally beat young David Lambardo - kid is fast - realized I was starting to put together clean races on demanding courses. 8th place felt good.

T-2 Weeks
Northbrook was another great course. After a per-ride, I thought a top five was doable. The course suited me, I had been on the bike a lot, and I knew the railroad ties and a few other spots would let me open up gaps on some of the less technical guys.

Hole shot. Then David Lombardo and I took off with a gap. Chip Williams made me look like a star with a beautiful shot of me skying the railroad ties. I got around the first lap in the top five or six, then I tired to ride the run up out of the woods. I had cleaned it on my pre-ride and first lap, but ended up jamming my chain under the inner keeper and loosing about 10 spots. Then I crashed trying to catch back on, then I through my chain again trying to revenge the run-up. I finished 25th... and barely stayed in the points for the call up at Montrose. Lesson learned, run up the run-up.

BTW, that was my fist and second dropped chain on my bike in almost three years of racing.

T-1 Week
Thanksgiving weekend I had my whole family in town and was going to host a five course avant-garde meal. Laura and I had been planning, practicing and prepping for weeks. Then I got sick. Horribly sick. Just like last year, but not on the weekend of the race. I was able to serve Thanksgiving on Saturday and it turned out pretty good. However, I'm already looking forward to a simple, delicious, classic meal at next years Thanksgiving.

T-3 Days
The weather man says snow. I'm getting pumped.

T-1 Hour
I pre-ride the course for a second time - it was perfect. Turin built a great variation on last year's course and Mother Nature coated it in a crusty white layer of awesome. I found a few corners where the worn line was pretty icy, but with a different apex you could get around faster if you were confident in the deeper snow. This was the first time I also stopped and tried a few different lines in a pre-ride. It was a confidence booster.

T-30 Minutes
Hemme makes his move in the 1/2/3 race. Fourth place is meaningless, he wanted in, he wanted on the podium.

T-10 Minutes
Hemme is on the podium and everyone is cheering like mad. Hemme gets a lot of love out here - dude is fast, exciting to watch and couldn't be nicer. Word.

T-5 Minutes
I get out of the car, high five some of the Roscoe Village guys, and eat a caffeinated gu.

T-2 Minutes
Snuggy off.

Hole shot!

T+5 Minutes
I'm holding everyone off and real thoughts of the podium begin coursing through my head.

T+ 6 Minutes
I'm loving the course - it sucks so good.

T+8 Minutes
Just gave up my lead to Bryan Lee and an overly aggressive junior from EXPO. I cannot loose another place or the podium is gone.

T+10 Minutes
The three of us battle pretty aggressively after the big lake front sand pit. In the following half a dozen corners I think there were five passes made and I finally get back ahead of them. Then I hear them tangle and I step on the gas to open up a gap.

T+14 Minutes
Brian Hague comes flying by. I had been hoping the fast man of the 4As wouldn't be able to get his power down in the shitty course conditions, but it wasn't the case.

T+20 Minutes
Tim Holt of BSM comes by me with a lot of speed on a straight and I just couldn't react in time. I worked hard to stay close but he's riding fast and smooth.

T+24 Minutes
Lew from Rhythm Racing had been giving me splits throughout the race - helpful on such a stressful course. Turns out my friendly nemesis all season long, Half Acre's own, Paul-Brian Mcinerney was closing... I know Paul-Brian is a mountain biker so he's loving this course too, and he's fast and knows he can beat me, so I have to start digging deeper. Anyone have a flashlight?

T+28 Minutes
I'm keeping it together. I haven't crashed, and I have the course figured out. I just have to keep it together up and over Cricket Hill and around a few more icy corners.

T+30 Minutes
Finish line in sight. Third place! I did it, and it felt good.

T+35 Minutes
While the third place finisher doesn't actually have a step on the CCC podium, it still felt like being on the podium to me. I think next year I'm going to donate a 2'x2' sheet of plywood just for all the third place finishers.

Quick Thanks
Thank you CCC, thank you Turin, and thank you officials, fans, and racers. I'm organizing a longer community focused thank you entry to get into more details, but until then, you all rock.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

COURAGE Bicycles on Velonews

Who doesn't love a little press? Looks like COURAGE's Joel Madrone made it on

Sunny and muddy?

Pic: Pat Malach for Oregon Cycling Action

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CCC Race Catch Up

Hello Blog, it's me, Jonathan... It's been a while but for my own vanity I want to drop a few brief race reports. Later in the week I've got a big community post that'll go up.

Hup Hup Hup

I love Half Acre Cycling, and I love Iowa, so how could I say no to the Dekalb race. Fun course, some awesome high speed flowy corners, but lacking some really tech stuff. Unless you count the flyover - which was awesome. It's fast downhill approach, short top deck, and g-out transition quickly separated the mountain bikers from the road guys.

I had a good race. Battled out front for a bit then found my groove and held on for my first top 20 finish of the year.

Dirt Bag

Beverly Bike Vee-Pak went two for two with their race. Last year they introduced a real crusher of a course, and this year it was more of the same, plus Elvis and all his accoutrements. Even with some of the big power sections this was a mountain biker's course - killer hill, tight loomy corners, and a few gravity fed sections that required more skill and less braking.

If you were comfortable laying the bike through the corners and getting a little drift in your skift then there were big time gains to be had. I'm born and raised a dirt bag and I railed corners all day on the south side to close gaps on the guys that are typically faster than me. I walked a way with my first top 10 of the year and huge grin.

My dirt bag instincts were on high alert as John Kalnins (pictured above) flew by me in one of the downhill sweepers. I later learned he was a factory DH racer - awesome.


I was a double looser last weekend at Psycho Cross. First, I lost the opening lap prime in the last 50m even with a solid holeshot. I had given it everything, lost the lead, picked it back up, stayed on the gas, lost the lead, launched a big attack at the double barrier, got the lead, got passed with 50m to go, got passed with 30m to go, then made it up the flyover - so close, yet so far.

Then after suffering on the power course (curse you long straightaways!) and earning my way into overall top 10 standings I couldn't make the Sunday race and missed out on a call up (curse you responsibility!). Kyle and Brian, I'm coming for you.

As a lead in to my next post I've got to say the guys racing in the 4As are awesome. We heckled, encouraged, and raced hard against each other all in the name of good fun and maybe a little post race puke. The community that is Chicagoland cyclocross rocks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Madison USGP: Shouda' Been a Gunslinger

This is going to be a long one. Big props, new faces, some tech notes, an R rated description of PRO cyclocross, a couple of tails from a gunslinger, tips on buying craft jerky, and how to bet on pigs.

Big Props

Sunday morning at registration I overheard 487 people were registered to race. I inquired how many more they expected to register and was told if it was like Saturday maybe 20 or 25 more racers would be on the final manifest.

The Chi Cross Cup opener in Jackson Park had 541. Bam x 30 peeps yo! Chicago is getting it done with huge, fast fields and a great scene. Word.

Saturday Cat 4

Too hot to handle

This was my first USGP event. When I preroad the course a few details jump out at me. It is walled from start to finish, very video game like. Where it's not taped there are full on walls made with sponsor banners - not forgiving of sloppy handling. This was made more dramatic by how tight some of the course got. There were going to be some major bottlenecks on the first couple laps. All in all it was an exceptional course with a lot of varied terrain and a wicked run up.

Aaron's advice to me was go until you think you're going to puke, then back off a bit. I took that one to the bank. I got a front row start and was feeling pretty jumpy. When the gun went off so did I - I gave it everything. Holeshot baby! I had it, I couldn't believe it. I ran through the gears and entered the first corner with a gap. WTF?! A gap. They announced my name over the PA! I made it to the back side of the course where Laura and my girls were cheering and I totally surprised them. It was awesome. Then I started to feel the tempo rob me of power. In hindsight I think I burned about five of my eight matches on the first lap. Four laps to go.

I started counting spots. Can I hold on to top five? Top 10? When Forest from Johnny Sprokets and Mike Gregor from RVBR came ripping by, I new I was going down. Those two were moving at into the top 10 and I couldn't hold on. I did my best impression of a washed up heavy weight prize fighter sloggin it out until the twelth round. When the bell rang for the last lap I swore to myself I was going to pass someone. It took until the last 50m, but I did it at the line again for 18th. Race one in the bag and not far from my goal of a top 15. I needed to refuel.


The fam and I rolled into Madison for the farmers market to find some much needed nutriment. We had the famous cheese bread. It was good, like a nice savory challah with cheese and crushed red pepper, but it was pretty low tech. I was looking for something to really blow my mind. Like a decedent, blueberry and cheese danish. Home run. It was flaky, a little chewy, and had a deep center overflowing with sweet marscarpone cheese and fresh blueberry filling.

Butter, sugar, cheese, fruit

Next up was some local cheese. A sheep and cow mix with a beer washed skin. Firmer than I expected it to be but delicious sliced on a fresh baguette. Last but not least, home made jerky. Here's some advice, if the jerky has a litany of ingredients it won't be good.


The pro race was incredible. Almost indescribable, but I'm going to take a shot at what it looked like watching Hemme represent COURAGE in the biggest show on Earth.

Run for your life!

Imagine how hard you would push yourself if you were being chased by an angry, hungry bear. How fast would you run knowing a half ton animal wanted to spread your abdominal kit all over the woods? Now imagine you're being chased down a twisty narrow gauntlet with various incarnations of slick, catawampus surfaces. Can you feel the bear getting closer? Finally, top it all off by wearing an ego mincing, one piece spandex clown suit while you're heckled by hundreds of spectators until your certain death.

When the moment arrives, your will succumbs and the predator flays you. You stare out into the nearly silent world with only your heart beat pounding in your head and you beginning to wonder why you volunteered your life for such a spectacle.

Then, as the fear exits the fibers of your body, and you realize your still alive and there was no bear, just the fastest cyclocrossers on the continent, you remember why you race. Incalculable glory. Men cheer, women throw cupcakes, children shout your name and want to stand next to you. People take your picture and blog about it. You just survived 60 minutes of Jurasic Park meets Running Man. You are a god among mortals. On Saturday, watching Mike Hemme race for COURAGE as a pro was awesome. Mike, you are the man.


It was great to see so many Chicago people up in the land of cheese. Roscoe Village Bikes Racing had some great finishes in the Cat 4. A lot of Pegasus, Johnny Sprocket, xXx and The Bone Bell regulars where representing Chicago. And The Pony Shop saw strong finishes from the always fast Holly Klug, 13th in the Pro women event, and Mike Sheer with an awesome 25th place in the Pro mens race.

I got to hang with the the My Wife Inc crew a bit too - good folks from Kansas City and Milwaukee. They made the vibe in parking lot PRO and chill all at once.

Race Tech

Talking with Molly I got a nice look at her one-off Indy Fab carbon cross bike. It is exceptional up close. For a first gen/prototype the fit and finish were superb. Based on all the hard work that went into the bike expect IF to be selling these next season.


"All the pros run tubies." Nope. The French National Champion, Francis Mourey, the dude that is winning everything in the States right now, he did it all on clinchers. I have one less excuse in my arsenal.

Sunday Cat 4

Give 'er

I got the same front row starting spot on Sunday. Bang! gun goes off and I took a monster holeshot again. I should have been a gunslinger. My fast twitch muscles were dialed all weekend. This time I kept the lead well into the second lap. Then setting up for a fast gravel corner I washed out in the wet, greasy corner before it. Shit. I lost so much ground in the second lap the MC heckled me about getting lost when I came through so far back.

I was going as deep as I could. I fought better for position on Sunday, then I suffered the obligatory mid race pass from Forest and Mike and a few more guys. I was racing better, I made a few big moves on the last lap and took back two additional spots on the last run up and in the final straight. 15th place, mission accomplished.

Apple Holler


My family could not have been a better cheering section for me this weekend. Thanks girls. After Sunday's race we headed to Apple Holler south of Milwaukee. Brats, pig races (always pick the ringer that lines up backwards), pony rides and of course a bunch of apple pickin'. It was a nice way to wrap up the weekend.

Little travlers

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jackson Park Race Weekend

Drum roll please. And the winner of the Chicago Cross Cup Tshirt contest is... Word Jumper. Duh. With all the voting shenanigans that went on in the last few days I feel a bit like Jan Ullrich on the podium next to Lance Armstrong. Be sure to get a tshirt to support the CCC, WBR and show the world there is such a thing as cyclocross.

Always a bridesmaid...


I was heckled pretty well yesterday, but mostly because Hemme is my teammate. The context: Hemme had a great race earlier in the day, me, not so much.

Mike started in the second row which can cause a few problems for the guys who got the lottery-system first row call ups for the season opener. When an elite racer hears the whistle it's like dropping a match in five gallon bucket of gasoline. Bam! Equal parts instantaneous power and complete disregard for anything around. I'm sure Mike's aggressiveness caught a few guys in the front row by surprise. After a 150m drag race and a couple of corners he sat in fifth wheel.


The lead group opened a pretty big gap on the nearly 2 mile first lap. Then it was classic battle, swords bloodied, shields dented. McLaughlin opened a gap a few laps in, Mike made some big pulls, then I saw him contemplating if he should rip his rear shifter off the bike. The hood had rotated 180 degrees and jacked his shifting. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The 15 or 20 seconds it would have taken to fix it would have meant a nearly impossible chase back to the lead group. Mike road it out for a great fourth place finish to officially kick off his cross season.


My Hemme face

I had about one of everything in Sunday's race. It started with a call up to the second row as a consolation prize for being the first looser in the tshirt contest.

Cole Trickle

Next up, I caused a pretty little ditty of a crash in the second corner. Sorry everyone. I was sitting just outside the top ten when I tried to set up for the corner and tuned my wheel directly into the back of someone. I almost saved it but instead ended up getting a tire burn on my arm as I made my way to mother Earth. I got up quick and tried to keep it together.

The second lap was a little clumsy too, I was stopped once behind a wreck and got slowed down going over someone's bike that went down directly in front of me. I'm pretty sure someone called me Slow Hemme as I came by - like Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Lap three was my best. I was warmed up and pretty clear headed, and wanted to do some productive racing. I made four passes, three of them in the more technical parts of the course and the final one was a bike throw at the line for 22nd place.

All. Most. There.

Big thanks to the Chicago Cross Cup and xXx for starting the season off right. It should be interesting to see how the growth of the sport, the new rules, and all the new faces shape this season. If there is one barometer we can use to judge the health of our local scene it is the participation of so many badass women racers. As it has been since the beginning of time, where there are women, there will be men.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mountain Biking Plus Hoonage Equals Cyclocross

Surfing a few of my favorite blogs this week turned up some premium video watching.


First I ran into the Life Cycles clip on Benlikesbikes. I cannot figure out how the teaser eluded my radar for so long. It is stunning. Then I saw a new Ken Block Gymkhana video on Autoblog. Ken always takes hoonage to 11.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicago Cross Cup Tshirt Contest

I don't spend enough of my time designing for the pure joy of it. When I saw the Chicago Cross Cup was hosting a tshirt contest I decided to give it a go, albeit a late go. I submitted my design 45 minutes before the midnight deadline this morning...

The Concept

Where will the 2010 Chi Cross Cup take us? Deep into the bowels of the Pain Cave? Sure. But also on a Autumn mecca from one race course to the next. Each stop providing a slue of experiences.

The Sketch

A little doodle with Ruby the other night after dinner proved I could make something clever out the the map concept.

The Execution

I'm pleased with my final submission. A graphic that will let the racers and the rest of the traveling circus anticipate what will happen, then as the season unfolds, provide a trigger to recall the experiences they had at each event. You can check out the comp here to watch it unfold.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Unseasonally Cyclocross Weather

Few things make me smile when I get up at 6am on a Saturday morning - but a surprise 53 degree weather report in early September somehow pulled one from my tired face. Had I not been headed to Montrose for a little off road workout the cool temps would have been a bummer, but with cross just around the corner it gave the ride a bit more validity.

A few other signs I encountered this week said the cross season is here...

Fresh kits

The smell of rotting leaves

Little girls imitating dad's weekend shenanigans

A big pile of stolen dreams

My seasonal farewell to The Tube-I-Hate-to-Love

I've had this pesky tube for three years. Its valve is 2mm shy of being the perfect length. Everytime I fill up my front tire I have to do this obnoxious little dance where I hold the pump to the valve with one hand and use my gut to pump the last 10 psi because my arm is too weak to get the tire all the way to 105psi. I'm usually doing this half asleep at 5am in a poorly lit basement with my sunglasses on. I'm talking real pain in the ass here. But the tube keeps on ticking - never a flat. It's been remounted four or five times with three different tires and it just keeps going. I hope I didn't just jinx the poor thing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Design and Bikes

Nice bicycle related design pieces from two of my favorite sites.

Information design

Source: Flowing Data

Social communication

Source: Good

Monday, August 30, 2010

Too Much Fun

Diagram 1

Last weekend's tag team race set the bar high for this years CX season. xXx designed a fun course with a good mix to get us ready for the fall - multiple surface transitions, a few loomy spots, a never ending spiral, good power sections, some high speed bob and weave corners, and an off cambered section that felt like a pump track on its side. The day was sweltering, beg-for-mercy hot. And the tag team element set the perfect tone for letting everyone go full tilt but not taking anything too seriously. Lucky me, my girls were there too to cheer me on too.

I raced in the 30+ Master with Mike as my partner, all COURAGE all the time. We went off in a combined race with the 40+ guys too. This meant I was sharing the race course with most of the fastest racers around Chicago. Fortunately, I was partnered with one of them. For all my Cat 4 brethren, let it be know these fast men put down the kind of power that makes you feel like you're in reverse when they pass you. Awesome and embarrassing in one short moment.

The start was chaos, see diagram 1 above. The racers taking the first lap lined up Le Mans style, sans bike, about 50 meters away on the start/finish line. The partners stood in the hand off zone holding their partners bike to prevent $30k with of carbon fiber catastrophes as the stampede came through.

Mike Hemme is fast, bullet train fast, and tall, basketball player tall. So when he came charging through the bikes at me I felt like I was the idiot who decided to run with the bulls in Pamplona on a dare. Of course after Mike there were 40 or 50 other guys too. Chaos, pure chaos, and fun!

So Mike puts down the kind of opening lap I needed him to. With two other guys he opens a huge gap, maybe 20 seconds. I jump on and give it my all. I hold off all but one guy. Make it back to him and nearly take myself out in the hand off zone trying to sprint to Mike. When you race with someone like Mike you do anything you can to respect the time he puts into the competition.

The race goes on and on, 75 minutes in total. There were many hand offs, a lot of super fast laps from Mike, a lot of sweat, a lot of laps where I tried my best, and in the end we pulled out a 4th place.

By the time I made it home Mike was lining up for the 1/2/3 (he took 2nd with Scott McLaughlin of SRAM!). In that crazy heat I cannot believe all those guys raced again, and for 90 minutes. Insane.

Click here to check out a set of a pics of what the hand offs looked like.

Thanks again to xXx for starting things off right!

Friday, August 27, 2010


You don't want any of this

Tag team! Mike and I are going to rumble in the 30+ at Sundays xXx Relay Cross. My CX bike is in pieces at the moment and Mike is going to be jetting in from some where last minute so we'll probably be a pretty clumsy duo. I've got to credit xXx for planning a clever preseason race to help us warm up to the cold, grim reality of cross. Grim reality like later in the day Mike is going to punish himself with Chicago fast man Scott McLaughlin in the 1/2/3.

Speaking of fast men, James Lalonde moved to Chitown a few weeks ago and will be making his presence known in a lot of the Chi Cross Cup races. He'll be flying Planet Bike colors, but is often found on a gorgeous single speed Ellis.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cyclists Take Heed

From today's New York Times-

"Federal authorities have decided to indict Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to two people briefed on the matter."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Free ride

I was in Pittsburgh and the Laurel Mountains last week spending time with the family and celebrating my aunt and uncle's 50th.

I spent one day with my cousin bombing down the mountain at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I haven't been treated to gravity assisted trail riding since my last trip to Whistler in 2001 - and I have no idea why I waited so long. Seven Springs has a nice, if limited, trail network but everything was super flowy and well maintained. Now I'm motivated to hit the pump track in The Garden at Clark Park.


In Pittsburgh I noticed this trick paint job on a fixie outside the Apple store. Look closely and you'll notice its blue masking tape with whiteout checkers and a packaging tape clear coat. From five feet away looked original.

I was stoked to see so many people on bikes in Pittsburgh. The city has some wildly large hills that don't seem to deter anyone. And while it's safe to say the bike culture in Pittsburgh is alive and well, I must say the lamb is dead and medium.

Who doesn't spit roast a lamb for family gatherings?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good Morning

Belmont Harbor 05:15

Monroe Harbor 06:20

By 07:00 the sky was asphalt grey. At 07:05 sheets of rain where drenching downtown Chicago. Fortunately, I was already at Intelligentsia enjoying a proper double espresso.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It Hurts So Good


Source: letterlust

What a difference an hour makes. My weekend rides typically begin at 6am - I roll out of Roscoe Village Bikes with a few friends and we make our way north. However, Saturday we gifted ourselves an extra hour of shuteye and it changed the whole day.

What I had expected to be three of us riding tempo instantaneously became six, when three more guys where lingering out side the shop. Austin on his CX bike, Alex, back on the bike after a nasty crash, and Hemme, with some "Don't worry, I raced, put in an extra 50 miles, and drank a lot of beer yesterday" story about how he promised not to crush us.

15 minutes later the growing group trend continued when we saw two Half Acre kits up the road. Hemme turned the screws and we made the catch to discover Zach and Sean. Zach and I have been talking about trying to ride together all year - and as luck would have it, there we were, on the same ride. This extra hour was already having a dramatic effect on my ride.

But hey, why stop at eight guys. At a red light in Evanston the Judson ride came by and we saw a few familiar face. Lew, from Rhythm Racing calls me out, and Alex seems to know half the guys so we catch onto the back of Judson when the light turns. Like Zach, Lew and I have been trying to find a way to ride together, but my early schedule doesn't jive with Lew's late schedule. The day was shaping up to be good, real good.

Of course, this was supposed to be a tempo day with a couple of friends. Now I was in the tail end of one of Chicago's fastest group rides. 10 minutes later me and 70 guys are ripping along, at one point I look down and were doing 35mph. BTW, after an 18 month hiatus I've got a computer on my bike.

A few miles past Highland Park the fractured remains of our original eight peel off for some hill work around Fort Sheridan. Ouch.

At this point everyone is feeling a little beat up so Hemme settles in up front and pulls us south at a steady 23/24mph. I'm freaked by two things about this little fact. First, Hemme is without a computer but keeps the speed super consistent, second, this is supposed to be his easy pace...

Enter the scooter. On Sheridan Road, just south of Tower we open it up a little more, 26, 27, then over our left shoulder we hear the droning buzz of a scooter. Hemme doesn't think twice and calmly pulls in behind the driver. I've motor paced a Jeep and a landscaping trailer with mixed results this year in the same place, but this time the driver was cool with us. Game on.

We hit 30 and Hemme is trying to get the guy to go faster but no dice, so I jump off and give it my all to escape. I pull by and maintain for about 30 seconds until my legs start to fade and the train comes by me. I burn one more match to catch back on and we go for a while longer before the scooter pulls off the road. Hot damn! That was fun.

Somewhere near Devon Hemme declares his intentions to finish his ride at bake. It's important to know Mike Hemme takes food seriously, and when he starts talking about how it was started by someone from the Ritz and it's been a long time since he tasted a better use of butter I was happy to give it a try. After digging into a heirloom tomato tart, a savory scone with sweet jam and some of Hemme's super crazy delicous muffin with cream and fruit I was sold. If you're cruising around Wicker Park and need a treat - stop by bake.

Had I rolled out for my normal 6am ride my day would have been so different...

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Don't Care - All Natural, Jiffy, Peter Pan - Just Make It Smooth


On Saturday Ruby and I checked out some wild BMX action at the Dew Tour. These BMX kids are crazy smooth. When Nys bunny hops a barrier we all get giddy, but when a 16 year old rocks a 1080 Turn Down off a six foot kicker and lands ninja quite ten feet from you face there is just no way to compare the two. A big old fat "What the fuck!" is all I could piece together in my head. Even after two hours of course side action Ruby and I were mesmerized. Check out some of the action here.

The gear head in me also noticed a lot of ti spokes. Seemed strange until I heard an interview of a PRO talking about how much he liked the way they looked. Kids.

BTW, check out Part II from the the Boston Globe's TdF cover in The Big Picture.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rest Day

Will power

For all of us used to viewing Tour photography in low res on, etc. I gift you this link to The Boston Globe's, The Big Picture section. While you're pining for tomorrows battle, enjoy these beautiful shots from the first half of the race.


Un-rest-day-like, I met up with Hemme, Ben, and some friendly Half Acre guys for coffee after everyone suffered in their own private hells masked with the unassuming name of "My Workout." I love the bikes of fast men like Hemme and Ben, they have sweet hi-po bikes set up for getting faster, not looking faster - frame pumps, mismatch wheels, various computers and their associated wires, grim. Standing still the bikes are a little gorky and unassuming - at speed your imagination erases the training paraphernalia and replaces it with your jealous aspirations.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Horribly Hilly Hundreds

21:00 Rollout
- I hit the road for my 4th year at the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. I'm meeting up with some of the RVBR guys and an old friend in Madison. The event always delivers. Its roads are a bulk of the proposed 2016 Olympic course, part of the Madison Ironman, and were featured last year in a Rapha Continental ride. No one completes the course wanting for more, except a few Ironmen-to-be who feel compelled to swap shoes and eek out a run afterwords just to erase any chance of leaving lovely Blue Mounds, WI with a smile on their face.

22:00 Deluge - The threat of rain materializes into a traffic halting display of wind, water and voltage. I average 30 mph behind a semi for nearly an hour.

23:30 The Peoples Hotel - This year I try out a new travel/sleeping arrangement to ensure I arrive at the start on time and rested. I arrive in the parking lot of Mount Horeb High School where I intend to get six hours of sleep in my VW. In years past I tried various combinations of rollout times and sleeping accommodations and was never able to get more than three or four hours of shuteye before the ride. I thought I had a surefire plan to beat that measly record.

02:20 Fire Drill - I was in a deep, satisfying sleep in the back of my car - windows cracked, a cool 65 degrees with a light breeze keeping my three season bag comfy. When out of the darkness a huge blaring fire truck parks 100 feet from my car. Sigh. Apparently the fire alarm went off in the high school. An hour later it's quite and I'm asleep.

05:30 Damn it's Bright - The sun is up and so am I. Sigh. I think I got about four hours of disjointed sleep. Not what I wanted before a 68 mile ride in the hilliest corner or Wisconsin.

07:30 An Embarrassing Display - Mike and Chris of RVBR and our friend Randy drop into the valley from atop the 1200' peak of Blue Mounds State Park where the event culminates and our cars are parked. I know I picked on Ironmen earlier, but at least they're tough. A quarter of the way down the road from the peak there were two gravel sections, each about 100' long. Nothing treacherous, nothing step, nothing to worry about for anyone with enough experience to dare the Horribly Hilly - so how come 90% of the participants walked the sections?! Come on roadies, step it up a little. It was tamped down gravel. In half the world it would have been called a paved road. Is this acceptable roadie etiquette? I think not.

08:15 Lost No More - Last year my friend and I made every wrong turn imaginable. This year I was error free and got to ride the first nasty climb of the course. It felt good. I kept a solid tempo up the 700 vertical foot jaunt and wasn't deterred by the 18% gradient. It was going to be a good day.

09:00" Say Cheese Curds" - We stop to take a picture, l to r, Randy, Mike and Chris. After logging thousands of miles in and around Chicago it's always a treat to get out in the county.

12:00 Clear Signals - Unlike last year, as I approaching the final climb I was feeling good. No cramping, no excuses, just the will to clean the last three miles and 900' of elevation in one strong push.

12:?? Finish with Nothing - Back in the 90's one of my friends who had just started racing for the University of Missouri taught me to finish with nothing. Race or not - always finish strong. I've really taken this to heart. Every cross race, every Saturday sprint, whether I have much to give or not, I give it.

The beauty of riding the same route each year means now I can anticipate the most difficult sections. When I new I was entering the last 100 meters, where all the family members hang out to cheer you on over then last 23% pitch, I was able to drop a handful of gears. I flew towards the finish much to the surprise of the labored, red, sweaty faces of my fellow participants. 20 feet after the finish line I was laid out in the shade loving the euphoric emptiness in my body. I didn't leave a thing on top of that hill and it hurt so good.

Really? You Walked it Both Ways? - I'd venture a guess that a third of the participents walk a significant portion of the last hill. That's how it goes for a lot of us Mid Westerners who never climb anything taller than an overpass. But what struck me was all the guys who were riding the hill, had the capacity to clean the whole thing, but dismounted, and even shouldered their bikes to cross the gravel sections. These guys have probably been busy all week lying to their friends and saying they road the whole thing - they didn't. Am I'm making too big a deal out of this?

Nicest Ride Award - Someone showed up on this tricked out ride. I've got more detailed shots of the rack set up if anyone wants to see them. I couldn't tell if the rack was custom made or not, but it was dialed in. The fork and bars went 90 degrees clockwise and the front wheel mounted on the very outside. Trick, trick, trick.

03:30 BK N TIME - On my drive home last year I saw a jacked up Delorean. This year the highway freak show was a trailer with Shrinermobiles form the year 2020.

Word Up - A big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, and residence of Blue Mounds that make the Horribly Hilly Hundreds such a great event year after year. I'd tell everyone to register, but the 1000+ spots fill up in minutes and I don't want to be left out next year.