Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Cross Country Skiing is Hard-ish

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I have been a bit apprehensive about actually putting on skis and trying it out this year.  Since cracking my skull, I can’t say that I’ve had the best balance.  It is way better now than it was even a month ago, but still, it isn’t up to my standards.

I decided to dog sit after Christmas instead of coming up to Cable for the New Year.  I thought it best if I didn’t even have the slightest chance to put on skis.  I changed my mind.

The last couple days, I’ve decided that I should ski some.  I decided it isn’t that dangerous. Even though I’m a shitty skier, I can manage to stay upright most of the time.

A couple days ago we went over to the Birkie Trail Tour, after it was over, and saw Yuriy’s new ski truck.  The truck was cool, but we did bring our skis along, so it would have been a shame if we didn’t ski some.

And it wasn’t too bad.  Actually, two days ago, I think my balance was better than it has been for a long time.  I was pretty comfortable getting all my weight over one ski and never bobbled once.  But I only skied 10km or so.

Yesterday I decided to ski from OO to FIsh Hatchery.  That is kind of the last half of the American Birkebeiner.  It isn’t the whole way because it isn’t groomed from Fish Hatchery to Hayward yet.  But it was 20 km or so.

I had my Garmin in my pocket and I skied about 17km in an hour or so.  That was quicker than I thought I was skiing.  It was a little over 3:30 a kilometer.  And the trail was needing some attention, so I wasn’t nearly as on top of my skis as I was the day before.

Trudi had dropped me off and driven to Fish Hatchery and skied north.  I met her around Mosquito Brook.  Mosquito Brook is only 5 or 6 kilometers from the Fish Hatchery parking lot.

The hardest hill on this part of the course is just a k or two from the road.  It is called Bitch Hill.  I think it was named that because it is a bitch getting up it.  During the race, at least when I did it, there are some people, women I think, dressed up in costumes, cheering on the skiers.  You really don’t have the energy to pay much attention to them at this point.

There was no one on the hill yesterday.  And the hill didn’t see that hard.  According to my Garmin, I was the 33rd fastest time up the hill.  I think that was out of 4 or 5 hundred people.  Obviously, not as many skiers use Strava as cyclists.  I say that because I believe nearly 10,000 people ski the Birkie, so most of the down use GPS to track their day.

Anyway, I am out of shape.  For about everything.  Of course I realize that lying in bed for the better part of 2 months doesn’t do wonders for general overall fitness.  But,  I am pleasantly surprised that I’m not worse than I am.

I’m going to ski the same as I did yesterday, today.  They groomed the trail from OO south, so it should be new corduroy the whole way.  That will make it way more stable.  Yesterday, the course was ski groomed for Dennis’ classic race, so there were 4 sets of tracks, two on each side, for about 1/2 the way.  That made the center narrow and skating a little undulating.

I have to admit, I’m a little stiff, but again, what do I expect.

At the warming hut at OO.

Then again, at Mosquito Brook.

Dennis and Trudi skiing a couple days ago by the new Birkie start area.

Trudi at Fish Hatchery.

Yuriy’s new CXC truck.

Little display at the Birkie office.

Downtown Hayward seemed abandoned yesterday.

This is Riverbrook. It is an old Carnegie Library building. Beautiful.

I think of Riverbrook as a bike shop, but they sell everything needed to enjoy the silent sports here.

This is the bike of choice currently this time of the year.

-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.


Last Minute Christmas Ideas for Cyclists

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I guess the best Christmas presents are things that someone wants, but won’t buy it for themselves.  At least that is what some people say.

I seems like our society has turned disposable.  I’m not sure if that is because there isn’t anyone left around to fix things that are hard to fix or it is just more affordable buying it new again.  I tend to like stuff that works really well initially and then if it does need repair, it is repairable.

I haven’t thought through all this, but here are a few ideas that might not be too late to get.

I think anyone that doesn’t have a Strava Premium account would love it.   It works best for a rider with ability to measure power, but that isn’t all it offers.  Plus, Strava is so great in so many respects, it’s a no-brainer paying something for their great service.  Here is a link.

Anything that Silca makes will work.  They make the best stuff and you have to pay for it.   But, it for sure fits into the category of something you might not buy yourself, but want.  Sometimes badly.  The Silca Superpista Ultimate floor pump is the best floor pump on the market.  By far. At least it’s the best I’ve used.  I don’t have one yet, but will soon hopefully.  Silca is making a frame pump and some tools that are just as perfect as their floor pump.  Here is their link.  

The guys at Barfly make super cool mounts for Garmins and cameras.  Plus other stuff too. Their products are made by cyclists, so they are ahead of the game in that respect.  Here is their link. 

If your person rides indoors, the Zwift might be the answer.  I haven’t used it yet, even though I’ve been nearly forced to the last couple years.  I plan to soon.  It is a good way for interactive riding.  I think it is best with a power meter, or trainer that does wattage, but that might not be correct.   The link below explains it.  I think there is a 7 day free trial, so maybe start there and see if it is for you.  Link is here.  

Everyone I know rides with something to record their ride.  Garmin started the movement and they still make a wide array of products that work great.  You nearly have to have one if you have a powermeter.  Plus, Strava only works with a way to record the ride.  You can use Strava on your phone, but having a bar mounted unit is way better.  Here is their link. 

Garmin isn’t the only company to make cycling  computers.  Wahoo came out with a new unit this year.   It is called the Elemnt.  It does a lot of cool things.   I’ve never used this either, but I’ve heard pretty good things about them.  They work great, obviously, with their trainer, the Wahoo KickR.  It measures power and it a top of the line trainer.  Pretty important for Zwift races maybe.  Okay, their link is here.  

Socks.  I have a sock fetish sort of.  Or maybe I’m a sock snob.  I try to only wear super nice socks.  Cycling and not.  I like wool socks.  Defeet initially came out with the first wool cycling socks.  Actually, Defeet should get credit for all modern cycling socks.  Before them, it was pretty much Italian thin socks, or K-Mart nylons.   Anyway, they still make super socks and tons of different styles.  They are everywhere, but they sell them on their website too. Check them out.

I can’t leave out Donkey Label sock too.  Donkey Label sells way more than socks.  High rent cycling clothing, skin care products, etc.  But their socks are great.  Wool and great.  If socks aren’t your deal, then their base layers are great too.   Donkey Label link.  

Okay, that is enough.  These are just a few ideas, as late as it is now.  All the companies above are great people that have really helped the sport a ton.  They’ve all contributed to make our sport much more enjoyable.  You can most of this stuff at your local bike shop.  Happy holidays.

The best of the best. A Silca floor pump.

The best of the best. A Silca floor pump.

Donkey Label socks. Merino wool. Love them.

Donkey Label socks. Merino wool. Love them.

The Wahoo KickR trainer. Pretty great for a long winter.

The Wahoo KickR trainer. Pretty great for a long winter.

Barfly makes a ton of different stuff.

Barfly makes a ton of different stuff.


Lawrence Christmas Horse Parade

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Yesterday I went over to Lawrence and watched the annual Christmas Parade.  I normally ride the 30 miles over there, but that wasn’t an option this year, but it was still super fun.  I think they have over 120 different groups of horses that come to downtown to celebrate the holidays.  Anyway, here are some photos from yesterday.





Cleaning up the poop at the end.

Cleaning up the poop at the end.

Sunflower Party

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Last night Sunflower Outdoor and Bike had its annual customer appreciation party.  It is usually the first holiday deal of the year around here.  At least for me.  I was a little apprehensive about going there, thinking that I only have a short amount of time I can keep an energy level up good enough to enjoy a holiday party.  But, I did alright.

Downtown Lawrence Kansas around the holidays is great.  It is really decorated and pretty.  The downtown area is sort of the original downtown from the 1800’s.  Many of the building, including Sunflower, have limestone foundations and walls.  I like that.

Dan Hughes is the proprietor of Sunflower, so the MC.  It is a great shop.  If you ever have a chance to go by, you should.

Dan has won the DK 200 more than a handful of times.  Anyway, Dan is great and keeps a festive atmosphere.  He gives away a ton of stuff and does a raffle that gives away a lot of other stuff too.  A guy I ride with from Lawrence, Marcos,  young daughter won a Rockshoc Sid 29’er fork.  She said that she was giving it to her dad for Christmas, which is sweet.

Everyone there was so nice to me.  Wanting to know how I was doing and saying that I looked so much better than they thought I would.  I guess that is good, I think.

Anyway, I held up okay.  I took a stroll down Mass. St. during the middle to get some fresh air, which really helped.

I slept nearly 8 hours last night, which is a record by miles.  I don’t feel that great, but it has to be a good thing.

I have two doctor’s appointments today.  This will be the last ones for a couple weeks.  I’m sort of tired of the whole routine, even though I understand that it is important.  The deal is I’ve learned just about everything I’m going to know about what is the matter with me. And that seeing a doctor isn’t really going to help much in the near term.  At least if it stays status quo, which is good.

Okay, tomorrow is the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in downtown Lawrence. Over a 100 horse-drawn carriages.   I usually ride there, but not this year.  But it will be great getting out of the house for sure.  Hope you have a good weekend.

Dan talking to the masses.

Dan talking to the masses.

Upstairs at Sunflower.

Upstairs at Sunflower.

The parade a couple years ago.

The parade a couple years ago.

Massachusetts Street is all like this.  Very festive.

Massachusetts Street is all like this. Very festive.




NYC Marathon Today – Gwen Jorgensen is Running

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This weekend is packed with athletic events.  The two UCI cross races in Louisville, Iceman Cometh was yesterday in Traverse City, plus the NYC Marathon is today.    I’m looking forward to the later.

My friend, Gwen Jorgensen is running her first marathon this morning.  I haven’t talked to her in the last month, but back then, she was just going to do the race and enjoy.  I hope that works out for her.  She did the US 10 mile National Championships about a month ago and finished 3rd, less than 30 seconds out of winning.  She ran 53:13.  I know a marathon is 2 1/2 times as long, but she can run.

I’ve received a few texts from Pat, Gwen’s husband, the last month.   We didn’t chat about Gwen, but they both know it is just testing the waters.  She is hoping to run under 2:38, which I think she can do easily.  I say that as I’m having a terrible time trying to walk around a short block at night.  I’m thinking she’ll run 2:34, probably faster.  And it is going to be pretty hard the last 30 minutes. I think that is how marathons go.  They were down in the Bahamas, doing the Island House Triathon, which she won for the 2nd year in a row.   Now just a marathon and her stellar season in done.  Pretty big year.

I have never ran that far.  I did a 1/2 marathon a long time ago.  Cold turkey.  I hadn’t ran a step in a year or two.  I did 1:15 and walked the last couple miles.  It wasn’t like I was cramped up, it was like my legs were so tight they couldn’t extend more than 8 inches.  But, I never could run as fast as Gwen does continually.

Anyway, the NYC Marathon women’s start is at 9:20 eastern time.  There are 50,000 people running the event.  How crazy is that?  Anyway, I plan on watching the race.  I know I have a few more hours until the start, but I’ve been up most of the night, so at least it is getting close.   It is supposed to be great temperatures for running there today.  High of 57 degrees, which is good.

Anyway, I wish Gwen luck.  Along with all my friends that are racing again in Louisville.  I’m missing out.  The race is live on ESPN2 at 9 am eastern time.

Gwen Jorgensen on a training run in Minneapolis, MN on 03 November 2014

Gwen on a training run in Minneapolis.

Would be pretty fun doing this, huh?

Would be pretty fun doing this, huh?