Saturday, October 02, 2010


Another reason to love the month of September…Chequamegon! The north woods of Wisconsin are pretty amazing at this time of the year, with the fall colors just beginning to make an appearance and all of the pines, northern Wisconsin rivals Colorado in scenery.
Julie and I arrived at the cabin, and shortly after our arrival, Brian Benson busted out the potato cannon as promised and he did not disappoint. I almost felt like I was watching an episode of Beavis and Butthead while Brian and Jim Logan were experimenting with different ways of increasing the distance, velocity, visibility by fire and target practice on John and Kristin while they were on the lake in a canoe.
On Thursday, Julie, my Mom and I went out for an hour long ride over the first part of the course, and it was the wettest that I had ever seen. There was a lot of standing water on the trail that threaded it’s way along the Birkie. As we hit the first little power climb going into Rosie’s, I heard my Mom grinding away at her gears behind us. She quickly realized how deceptive Rosie’s Field can be, with its’ sometimes steep, rolling hills and freshly cut, but still deep grass. We did enough of the course to give her a good idea on what to expect over the course of the race.
Friday, same deal but we did 90 minutes instead and the course was considerably dryer than yesterday, but there were still quite a few large puddles, I knew that the puddles were going to be a lot worse on the middle parts of the course. After the ride, the garage at our cabin looked like the pit area of a World Cup cross race, with everybody doing some last minute clean up and tune ups on all of the bikes. Cool… Bike maintenance was followed by more shenanigans with the potato cannon and mass consumption of lasagna.
Race day. We woke up to mostly blue sky and cool temps in the upper 30’s. After a breakfast of pancakes and eggs, I suited up and rolled out for my warm up. As I hit the road, Jack Hinkens rolled up behind me. We had a nice conversation during our warm up about how his first season on the U23 World Cup mountain bike racing circuit was going. If things continue for him as they are, this guy could easily become one of the top mtb racers in the country, if not the world. Once he gets more base mileage in his legs, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.
About 10 minutes before the start, I rolled into the start area and backed myself into a front row position and all of the big dogs from the Midwest racing scene were there, Schouten (whom most picked as the race favorite), Matter (last years winner), Swanson, Anderson, Simonson, Mikey, Peariso, Braun, Marko, Tilford, the Eppenators, among a great many others. Also making an appearance was Utah native Jason Sager.
The cannon went off and I attached myself to Tilfords wheel on the rollout out of Hayward. I stayed on Tilfords wheel for most of the rollout and once we hit Rosie’s, I hit the throttle going up the first short power climb. Within a few pedal strokes, the chain made the dreaded clanking noise as it struggled to engage the teeth on my big ring. The next thing I knew, I was pedaling freely with no power transfer to the chain. I looked down and the chain had dropped to the outside. I dropped the front der to the granny gear and gently pedaled the chain back into position as what seemed like hundreds of racers went whizzing by me like I was standing still. Once the chain was back in place, I opened it up again in attempt to get myself into a decent position as we rolled onto the Birkie. In looking at some of the pictures, what seemed like hundreds of racers ended up only being around 60 – 70-ish.
As we rolled along the Birkie, I managed to pick my way up to what had become the 1st chase group, with the lead group only about 30 seconds up the trail. As we rolled through OO, our group had whittled itself down to seven, including myself, Simonson, Maxwell Anderson, Nate Whitman, Sova, SKJ and Tim Mulrooney. The lead group of 12 was about 60 seconds ahead of us and with Matter launching several attacks on the lead group, there was no chance of us catching them.

The Simonson pain train, followed by yours truly, SKJ, Nate, Sova and Max.

#78 – Mountain Biker… #19 – Roadie maybe?

Padawan Gammell at OO, puttin’ the hurt on all who follow.

Benson carries a smaller version of the potato cannon in his Camelback.

Julie was once again restricted to self preservation mode by her Mom. I think she’d look pretty hot if she had a couple of battle scars from Chequamegon that were visible when wearing her wedding dress.

Shortly after OO, the large man eating puddles began to appear. Some had narrow routes around them, while others gave you no option other than to plow through middle of them. In years past, things never really started to break apart until we hit the Fire Tower climb, however this year the puddles that preceded Fire Tower were the catalyst that began the disintegration. I never had any real issues with the puddles, my drive train made an awful grinding sound whenever I went through some of the puddles, other than that, it worked about as well as one could expect.

Padawan Gammel nearing the top of Fire Tower Hill, makes it look easy. He must have a really good coach…

The Rock, rode to a 1st place finish in the single eye division. The Eppens wanted to insure their dominance in the Iowa category, so they stole one of his contacts before the race.

Big John won the non-mutant division within his age group. Tilford is a mutant and therefore does not count.

As we hit the base of Fire Tower, our group was pretty well strung out with the exception of about five or six of us that were consistently near the front. Simonson took off like a scalded dog, Darrin Braun joined our group out of nowhere and made an attempt to stay with Simonson. Maxwell and I were a little further back, followed by Adam Swank, who had also clawed his way into our group after a not so good start. As we hit the top of Fire Tower, I went by Maxwell and put it into pursuit mode. I closed the gap to Darrin and we worked pretty well together to pull back Simonson after a couple of miles. Maxwell, Adam and Nate eventually closed the gap to us as we hit the final miles of the race.
As we rolled along the final sections of the Birkie, we had caught and passed a few that had blown themselves up with the lead group, Marko, Ryan Krayer (I think we passed him a little earlier, not 100% sure) and maybe one or two others. As we hit the final rollers, Simonson again took off and never looked back. Darrin tried to stay with him, but couldn’t hold his pace. I tried to stay with Darrin and couldn’t match his pace either. I took a quick look back and noticed that I had gapped everybody else off. So I put my head down and steadied my effort to try and reel Darrin back in before we hit the finish. As we hit the top of the last climb and I worked my way back up to Darrin and passed him as we started down the descent to the finish. I lead all of the way down and as we hit the last little power climb he went around me. I tried with everything that I had to keep him behind me, but it wasn’t there.

B Matter = dominance in the 40.

Jake Richards = dominance in the Short and Fat.

PRC chica Maria Von Ruhtenberg, the kid in the background appears to think that biker chicks are hot. I tend to agree with him….especially mine.

My biker chick.

The look of pain says it all, Darin blew by me like I was standing still at the finish.

The Eppenators = dominance on a tandem despite their ever present mechanical issues. Are they going to ditch the tandem for single bikes next year?

My Mom had a great race…rumor has it that she bested Pigs best time.

My lovely wife put in another solid effort that should gain her another preferred start for next year.

Benson told all of us that if we didn’t turn ourselves inside out at the finish, he’d launch a potato at our quads from point blank range. Tom thought he was serious.

I ended up 12th overall and 1st in my age group, just shy of my goal for a top ten. I’m pretty happy with that, considering that I was a little behind where I would have like to have been all season. I missed out on the lead break due to the dropped chain, however I’m not really sure that my result would have been much different had I made it into the lead group. It was a great day for a lot of folks from DSM, John Newell took 2nd in his age group, Sally Logan took 2nd in her age group, Jeff Barnes (Iowa City) was 4th in age, the Eppenators won the tandem division and Julie was 13th in her age despite being in self preservation mode due to our upcoming wedding. The old man of the woods, and I mean this in the most complementary of ways, John Adamson finished an incredible 23rd overall in the short and fat at the young age of 64?! And last but not least, my mom placed 3rd in her age group in the 40. Why did I not refer to my mom as ‘the old woman of the woods’ you ask? Well, she brought me into this world, and even though she is 63, she could just as easily take me out of it. ‘Nuff said.

Next up…I never thought that this day would come, Julie and I are heading out to Colorado to tie the knot. I never thought that I would be this excited to get hitched, but I am. I can’t think of a better person to spend the rest of my life with. I only hope that she can continue to put up with my occasional…maybe sometimes frequent ‘manly tendencies’…

Thanks for reading,