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  • Jul 06 2012

    Riding the Powderhorn 24

    Riding the Powderhorn 24

    Riding in Minneapolis' Powderhorn 24 bike race stands out as one of the most fun events I've been involved in by bike—ever. The field of riders is men, women, teams, solo riders, unicycles, recumbents, road bikes, touring bikes, folding bikes, fixies, single-speeds, etc, etc. All riding together... for 24 hours. The wide range of cyclists and wheels big and small all riding together made a bit of a party out of it (to say nothing of the hundreds of people camped along the Greenway's start/finish area). Trapped together in the maze of the Powderhorn neighborhood, we all shared an intense need to keep going and going and going. Minneapolis bike culture at its best!

    Calhoun Cycle owner Luke Breen rides his recumbent in the 2012 Powderhorn 24

    The route was simple, or so it seemed. There was about a 5 mile loop that started and finished on the greenway. The loop (or lap) was a fairly straightforward ride that made a rectangular pattern out in the open streets (not a closed race course) around Powderhorn Park. The lap had 4 checkpoints that you had a hole punched on your lap counting card that we were all wearing as necklaces. If you missed a checkpoint, the next checkpoint would not give you a punch and this way it was obvious that everyone was hitting all checkpoints every lap.

    When I signed up I didn't pay attention to anything beyond it being a 24 hour ride. Upon learning about the checkpoints I thought it was something a bit different than I imagined and I considered bailing out, but thanks to peer pressure (I signed up with a friend whom I had done a 24 hour ride with once before) I kept my doubts somewhat in check. After finding out we wouldn't just have our laps counted, we'd have bonus checkpoints throughout the 24 hours within a mile of the route, I worried we were on the verge of a potential disaster. Truth: the last 24 hour ride Derek and I did together led to us making some irrational decisions starting at about 14 hours in and were pretty much completely delirious for the last 8 hours (and that was a simple ride to Duluth and back!).

    The roll out with a few hundred spectators cheering the couple hundred riders was exciting and we quickly got into a rhythm and discovered that even with all the stops, we were able to keep up a decent pace and within a couple of laps we had a route that was making sense to us. An hour in and we had over 15 miles under our belts and then we get handed a manifest with our fist 5 bonus stops (each with 2 hours windows to stop at them).

    The bonuses forced us to start thinking beyond the laps. We had to go to a Beehive where we added antennas to our helmets to turn us into bees (worker bees, for sure), did a karaoke stint to Rocket Man, raced through a little obstacle course on a tiny kids bike, rode a lap on a Nice Ride, did yoga, played out a bit of an operetta (I was Crete, stirring up the seas), tried a little bike polo on my recumbent, wrote a Haiku, learned about in-season veggies at the Midtown Farmers Market, etc, etc. Phew!

    The bonus (!) of the bonus stops was that they kept us sane (though they were mostly doing things that took me out of my comfort zone) and the constant encouragement and socializing with other riders kept up our pace and sometime Saturday morning we had ridden a double century and a triple seemed do-able. How cool is this, eh? Things continued going smoothly for us and while we didn't make the triple, we did end up clocking 275 miles over a total of 51 official laps.

    The final lap was glorious in that the "race" was over and all the riders were content with simply finishing off the lap (only full laps were counted) and celebrating an amazing accomplishment. Thanks to all who came out to cheer us on, to the organizers and volunteers of the Powderhorn 24, and to our fellow riders!

    Post-race group shot from the Powderhorn 24. A crowd of participants pose with their bicycles on a hill along the Greenway in Minneapolis

    Here's some video that I shot:

  • May 25 2011

    The Royal 162

    May 14th was a wet and windy day. It also was the day that Derek and I set out to ride the Royal 162. 162 mile gravel road race (OK, more of a ride for participant type riders like us...) was to be epic and we loved the idea. Driving down to Spring Valley early Saturday morning was wet and cold. I told Derek that I expected that he and I would be the only 2 people to show up. Wrong! There had to be at least 60 of us that took off at 7am. It was 49º at 7 and by nine it was 47º (oops, I guess the temp was going the wrong way for us: ).

    At 38 miles we were in Preston for water and a piece of fried chicken for me.

    We made a quick stop of it and headed out feeling pretty good.
    A mere 20 miles later and a good amount of hard driving rain mixed with pretty tough winds and a great feeling of isolation (it did now seem as though we were the only 2 on the ride) and we were squished physically and mentally.

    At about 58 miles we crossed a paved bike path and while I think we both knew that we weren't going to make the 162, we were trying to look at the ride in pieces and the current piece was to Harmony. Harmony was completely do-able for us even in the conditions...

    15 yards past the bike path we stopped and looked at the cue sheets. We felt there was a bit of confusion about the cue sheets (probably made this up in our muddied brains) and determined that this was our moment to bail out.
    Mind you, bailing out at mile 58 didn't mean we were done. Actually we had little sense of where we were and whether to take the bike path right or left (no, we had no clue of a direction they might be pointing). We turned right thinking that Harmony must be that way. Lucky for us it was Preston we came to (no more isolation) as by now the later starting Almanzo riders were all over the town.

    Lunch at the café and back to Spring Valley on the highway.
    At mile 82 we entered the parking lot. We survived. A little worse for the wear and our egos a bit bruised, but there it is.

    Last year I did a ride report of the Almanzo 100. Check it out Here

    You can check out more about the Almanzo 100 and Royal 162 Here

  • May 24 2010

    Almanzo 100

    The Almanzo 100 is a gravel road century. It was a natural that Derek and I would do a century on gravel at some point. A bit of a stretch for us to do a race that is a gravel road century, but the Almanzo 100 is a well run race (thanks to Chris Skogen's efforts) that starts just south of Rochester Minnesota.

    The ride started at the Spring Valley High School at 9am. I don't know how many riders showed up at the start, but 450 were signed up and I see that 267 finished. It was a mass start which made for a pretty cool roll out. At the beginning of the ride I was a bit full of myself, but by mile 50 that had more than worn away and by mile 70 Derek was dragging me along. I kept hearing in the back of my head "why didn't you get more miles in this spring?". I don't think we would have been much faster had I been more prepared, but the finish would never have been in doubt.

  • Feb 25 2010

    Shop Ride to Frostbike 2010

    Quality Bike Product is one of the largest cycle distributors in the US and each year for one weekend in February they have a big industry show called Frostbike.

    This year's shop ride to Frostbike was well above zero the whole way and we suffered no flats. Sweet!

    The event was well attended as always and basically is a who's who in the bike components and accessories world. Civia Bikes come from QBP so we got to check out the full 2010 Civia line up which is looking very impressive. Henry is a sales rep for Schwalbe that has visited us in the past. He gave us all a nice run through the Schwalbe products. For products of interest it seemed that lights were a bright spot (ha!). Portland Design Works looks like an up and coming parts and accessories company that will be good to have around.

    The lunch was spectacular and the ride both ways was a fun one. Riding with a group of friends is an absolute blast and being 10 of us there were big smiles all around! Here's a video of the ride and event.

    We ended with pizza and a Brompton seminar back at the shop. Brompton is looking especially good for 2010!

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