Author Archives: Steve Tilford

-24 Degrees Out

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Little reality check when you wake up to -24.  It might be only -21 or it might be -27 depending on what thermometer you believe.  Whatever the real temperature, it is pretty cold.

I was driving up here last night and it was -7 or so.  The NPR station said that the actual temperature in Northern Minnesota was going to be -35 last night.  It isn’t that cold here.

When I first came up to Cable, a couple decades or more ago, I didn’t really think that the real temperature could be -40  or colder.  That year, the high for a week never got warmer than -5. When it is normal being below zero, it really doesn’t seem that cold.

I just looked at the weather and it says that it is -21 and 78% humidity.  I don’t think that is possible, but I don’t know for sure.  Seems like every time I’ve done anything this cold, it sort of starts sort of snowing and the humidity leaves the air.

There is a big ice storm coming through Kansas today, via Oklahoma.  The radio said that it was predicted that 1 inch of ice was going to be deposited in Northeastern Oklahoma.  That will be pretty terrible.  That amount of ice weighs a lot and thus, tree branches break, then no power. I’ve been there when that has happened before and it is ugly.  I hope it isn’t that bad there.  Or in Kansas either.

I think something is the matter, actually, I know there is something the matter with my AWD van.  The windows cover with condensation,or now frost, when it is cold out.   It isn’t the heater core leaking.  I think the blend flap or module that allows fresh air in when it is on is stuck shut. I think this because the AC works and the windows don’t get “foggy” until people, and dogs, get in.

I probably won’t fix it this trip, but when it is substantially below zero driving, the windshield is clear, but the driver’s and passenger’s side windows are pretty unusable.  Not such a good way to drive.

Not sure what I’m doing today.  I brought my bike and trainer.  Dennis has a fatbike, but -20 is pretty cold.   I have some heated MTB grips, but I didn’t bring them.  Those would have been great here, but they only last an hour or so.  I you can keep your hands and feet warm, everything else takes care of itself.

Tomorrow, for Dennis’ race, The Seeley Hills Classic, it is supposed to be 30 degrees warmer at this time.  Which means it is going to be around 6 degrees at 10am then getting into the teens pretty quickly.  Not horrible temperatures compared.

My van this morning.

Dennis is delegating from his stools.

Tucker loves it up here. He and Hawkeye have been playing all morning.

I threw a pot of water off the balcony of the Simple Living Lodge this morning. Little science experiment.


Out of Shape

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I really haven’t been that out of shape the last few years.  I didn’t know that until I rode yesterday, not at altitude and realized that I’m way, way, less fit that I have been for a long time. It’s okay.  I kind of expected it.

I have ridden maybe 200 miles outside, plus a bunch of times inside, since October 14th.  It will have been 3 months since I crashed on January 14th, my brother’s birthday.  3 months seems like an eternity now, but in the whole scheme of things, it really isn’t that long.  I might have to multiply those three months by 12 and still be dealing with some of the after effects.  Maybe longer if I’m really unlucky.

Bill and I rode to Lawrence and back yesterday.  We rode pretty directly there and then rode dirt back part of the way.  The dirt was really mud mostly, since the River Road is shaded because the sun is so low in the South.  Wherever the sun hit, the road was dry and more like smooth pavement than gravel.

Anyway, it was nice when we left.  In the 60’s, but pretty breezy from the Southwest.  So, kind of tailwind there.  We stopped and got coffee and then headed back West.   Not far after we started back, our luck changed.  The wind switched pretty much to the North and it dropped 30 degrees.  And kept getting colder.

We had left before noon, hoping to ride in the warmth all day.  It wasn’t supposed to changed temperatures until after 4 o’clock.  But it switched before 2.

I wasn’t horrible, just out of shape.  Like early season out of shape.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time.  The hills seemed way steeper and I was pulling on my bars a lot more.  I don’t know why, but it seems like I’m not even pulling up with my legs when I am standing.  Weird.

I think the cold did me a little good.  I was riding with bare legs and the cold kept them numb.  I think I would have just been sore if that didn’t happen.

I’m not only out of shape for riding, but for anything physical.  Vincent has some weights in his basement.  Sort of a full gym set.  He has a bar that has maybe 75 pounds on it.  I could barely curl the thing twice.  That isn’t right.   I understand I haven’t really done anything physical in 3 months, but man does strength leave fast.

I noticed the same thing doing pushups a while ago.  I tried to do pushups and could barely do 10.  Just a couple days later, I did nearly 30, but I was doing 50 a couple months earlier.  You’d think your muscles would be strong after rest.  Guess too much rest.

Normally when I’m not riding I’m doing something physical.  Building something, fixing something heavy, hiking, skiing or something that takes stamina.  Not this time and it shows.

Today we’re driving up to Cable Wisconsin for a few days.  I didn’t go there over the holidays and miss the place.  Dennis is putting on his ski race, The Seeley Classic, on Saturday and Trudi said she’d help.  I don’t know how much help I am going to be, but maybe some.

I’m a little worried about the temperatures.  My internal thermostat hasn’t been working so great recently, so I’ve been sleeping under a thick layer of quilts.  Cable is going to be a lot colder than anything I’ve been in.  Guess I need to wear Carhartt lined pants, etc. all day.

Bill was gonna go, but I got a text from him at 2:30am saying he is sick and hasn’t slept, so he is staying home.  I’m going to take my bike and trainer to ride up in Cable.  I’d like to try to ski, but it just depends how the trail is.  If it is stable and not icy, then I’ll ski.  I fall enough when it is perfect, but have to watch out for that nowadays.

So nordic skiing would probably be great for my general conditioning.  I’ll just have to check it out I guess.

Okay, I didn’t pack anything last night and wasn’t really sleeping, so got up early.  I need to wash my bike and get my stuff together to go.

I’ve been sleeping a ton recently, like somewhere between 9-10 hours a night, so this was short. Hopefully I can sleep some on the way up.  It is 10 hours of driving.

The mud was thin, so it just sprayed on my bike, nothing horrible.

Tucker loves it up in the Northwoods. This is him getting surrounded by a bunch of herding dogs in a dog park in Iowa City last week.



Winter Weather

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Kansas has pretty great winter weather, usually.  Of course it can be what a person thinks as winter.  Lots of snow and freezing temperatures.  But also there are days that are spring-like.

Today is one of those days.  It is supposed to be 61 degrees this afternoon.  The average high temperatures in January is nearly 38 degrees, so it really isn’t like North Dakota here, normally. And the summers aren’t like Texas or Arizona either.

Anyway, 61 degrees is enough to get me out on my bike.  I’ve been taking it pretty gingerly the past couple weeks.  I’m not going to do anything that gives me a headache.  Like in the real sense of a headache.  That being said, it is going to be 3 months in a few days, since I fractured my skull, and when I exercise, I feel the best, so that is what I’m going to do.

Yesterday I did some auto repair.  Auto repair is more challenging than riding, as of now.  I put on new leaf spring bushings on the AWD minivan.   The first one took an hour.  The second about 15 minutes.  That is how it goes fixing cars.  Once you know how to do it correctly, it is a lot easier.

Okay, spring is here for one day.  Then the temperatures are going to plummet 40 degrees or so.  That is normal for Kansas too.  That means back to the trainer.

I’ve already ridden the trainer more the past month that I would normally in a five year period. And more to come I suppose.    Not such a bad thing, just a thing.  I say that, but I am really looking forward to some wind and scenic views.

Sunset last night. It was pretty great.


60 Days for Killing a Cyclist ?

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Yesterday was the sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of my friend, Glenda Taylor.  Glenda was struck and killed by  Todd Kidwell at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships in June of 2015.

I didn’t go to the hearing.  I’m haven’t been feeling that good recently and really didn’t want to live the reality of what has already happened.   Lots of cyclists went there to support Joe, Glenda’s husband, and to support cycling in general.

I did see the sentence pretty soon after it was announced.  60 days in jail and 36 months probation.  Here is a link to the Topeka’s newspaper article about the hearing. 

I don’t understand the legal system.  I don’t know why this whole thing took so long.  I don’t understand the plea agreement for manslaughter.  I don’t understand a lot of things.

Todd Kidwell made some statements that seemed genuine.  He said, “I’m the reason Mrs. Taylor is not here.  I shouldn’t have tried to pass her.”  He also said that “I had a responsibility to Mrs. Taylor.  I know you probably hate me, you have every right to.  I need to make amends.”

Those are words that you want to hear, but impossible to digest.  At least for me.

I don’t know what is right.  A guy sitting in jail isn’t gonna bring back a life.  A guy saying he’s sorry isn’t going to do it either.   Glenda was a super person and didn’t deserve to be on this end of a tragedy.  She is missed by all.

Glenda after winning a medal at cyclocross Nationals.

Some of the friends and supporters of Joe and Glenda that made the trip yesterday.

Cross Nationals – Pretty Severe Conditions

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Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford, CT yesterday was epic.  The course decided much of the race. Either you had the ability to ride the course or you didn’t.  It was close to singletrack much of the way.

I think the course was too severe the whole week.  From unrideable mud to frozen footsteps, you want a cross race to be decided by ability.  Not that, in the end, at least at the Elite level, it wasn’t.  Both in the Elite men’s and women’s races, the pre-race favorites won their respective events.

So the favorites won.  But riders that maybe could have had an opportunity to shine, didn’t get that chance because the starts of these races were so important.

Katie Compton rode a very good race.  She had a little trouble everyone once and awhile, but all and all, she rode a very good race for the conditions.  She was the best rider in the race.

Amanda Miller finished 2nd and rode super also.  She is very comfortable in harsh conditions and her bike handling skills are excellent.  Very deserving result for someone that has put in her time this year.

The men’s race, well that was interesting.  Maybe not the final result, but the last bit. Stephen Hyde was good.  He got the hole shot and then proceeded to make errors so that he was well back.  Since the start went up a long singletrack dismount, any error was exaggerated.  It was a little bit of carnage there the first lap.

But, he did the same thing at the World Cup in Iowa City and rode back to a top ten finish,  so I figured it was just a matter of patience before he did that.  He got to the front and immediately slid out on a off-camber descending corner.  He kept his cool and started riding consistently fast.

The crazy thing about the race was the last bit.  Hyde had a low front tire and somewhere on the last hill, just before the finish, tore his rear derailleur off his bike. So he came onto the finish stretch, not able to ride.  He coasted a bit and then got off his bike and walked to the line.  Jimmy Driscoll was closing fast.  If the line would have been 50 meter further down the stretch, the results would have been different.  I’m glad it wasn’t.  Pretty unusual finish, to say the least.

Jamie rode an excellent race, but Stephen Hyde deserved to win.  I did a short post on him after the World Cup in Iowa.  He is the real deal.

Jonathan Page finished 7th and Todd Wells 8th.  Glad to see a couple of the guys I who’ve been around for awhile, have top 10 finishes.

The whole races are on the video on yesterday’s post.  If you want to see how close the end of the men’s race, click here for a twitter video.  

The season is over for the majority of riders, but not all. There are still a few races left before the World Championships.

Amanda riding this section super. It doesn’t look so tricky, but was.

Katie winning.

RIght after the race, 1st and 2nd hug. Katie seemed pretty happy.

Right after Stephen Hyde got back into the lead, he bobbled.

The finish. Notice his rear derailleur hanging. Jamie was just behind. Crazy finish.

Stephen Hyde’s bike at the finish.





Cyclocross Nationals – Live Streaming

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Cyclocross Nationals has been going on all week.  I haven’t been there, but from the photos and videos I’ve seen of the previous races, the course is ever changing and technical.  Mud that has turned to snow is now the course.  Right now it is 8 degrees in Hartford, with a high at 3 o’clock of 22.  So, the course is going to stay mostly frozen, depending on how sunny it is.  There might be a certain amount of thin, wet mud where it gets direct sunlight.  Not good for the cleats if this is on a south facing runup.

The schedule today is as follows –

9 a.m. – Junior men 17-18
10 a.m. – U23 women
11:30 a.m. – U23 men
1:15 p.m. – Elite women
3 p.m. – Elite men

I don’t really have any for sure predictions for the results of the Elite races today, since I haven’t been there and seen the course.  I’m sure it is going to be the usual suspects fighting for the jerseys.

I don’t see Katie Compton not winning her 13th straight Nationals Championship, but 13 isn’t a very lucky number.  Even with that, I think she will win.

I’m hoping the best for Amanda Miller. She had put a lot of effort into this season and her results show that.  If the course is right, and the stars were aligned just right, she has a chance to add to her Fatbike National jersey from a couple years ago.  This would be special.

The men’s race, well, depends too.  Of course J-Pow and Stephen Hyde.  They will both be riding at the front if things go good for them.  It is hard imaging a different result than one of them, but it is cross and the course might dictate a different result. Should be a great race to watch. (Thanks to a comment from my friend, Bill Elliston, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jonathan Page as a contender for the win.  When it is tricky, he excels.)

The live streaming begins a tad before 9 am, east coast time.  I’ll post the video here as soon as they start streaming.    It’s an all day affair.   If you want to watch some of the other Nationals in Europe, click here for the links.   Enjoy.




Best MTB Rider Ever? John Tomac

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I was looking around the internet last night and saw this interview, by Neal Rogers, at Cyclingtips, with John Tomac.    I guess Neal did the interview last year at Ned and Todd’s Gran Fondo in Durango.  I went there and rode and talked to Johnny T. a little.  I hadn’t seen him in a long time and he hadn’t really changed at all, which is great.

The interview is pretty good.  John was always modest and talked more with his legs than his mouth.  And, in my opinion, he did that better than any rider I had the pleasure to race with. Sure there are some other guys who might compare with John, but when you throw both cross country racing and downhill together, he’s my pick.

I raced with John pretty much throughout his career.  I rarely beat him ever.  I beat him in a few Specialized Cactus Cup Fatboy races, but that was riding a tight criterium on mountain bikes. Off-road, he would kick my ass.  Especially if it had a technical downhill on the course.

I thought I was going to beat him at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta, in 1996, gaining a minute on him the on the first part of the last lap, but then it got to a big technical rock section and he rode away, leaving me to finish 2nd.

Anyway, John was, by far the best downhill rider of that time period.  By far.  If they wouldn’t have let any rider pre-ride a course and everyone just went down it once, first time, John would have won all the races.  Plus, John was racing the cross country races before the downhill usually.

At the World’s in Italy, Johnny T. had the first XTR setup I’d ever seen.  And I was riding for Shimano too.  I might be wrong, but I think it went from a 28 big cog in the back to 32.  Those 4 teeth allowed him to ride the steep walking section.  I remember seeing the race on TV afterward and at the start, there was a huge pack of 150 guys climbing, with Johnny T. already a 100 meters ahead by himself.  He won the World Championships handily that year.

Last year, in Durango, I was at the start of the ride and lined up next to John.  He looked over at my bike, which was an Eriksen.  It was 9 speed XTR, hardtail.  John looked over and saw my barends and said, “Barends, I need to get me some of those”.    He nearly always rode what he thought made sense and made him faster.

Anyway, if you have some time and want to learn a little about him, click the link above.   It is a good interview.

Photo, by my friend, Tom Moran.  The photographer of the first era of modern day MTB racing.