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Gravel Racing

  • Aug 25 2018

    DaMN 2018

    Me on The DaMN 2018

    The Day Across Minnesota (DaMN) is an amazing 240 mile gravel race that starts in South Dakota and ends in Wisconsin. Riders of the race are given 24 hours to complete the 240 miles. You have to make 3 time cutoffs throughout the day in order to receive the needed cue sheets to complete the race. The checkpoints that you get the next set of cue sheets are at 60 miles, 120 miles and 186 miles. The time cutoffs (including the finish), are based on a 10 mph pace. I cannot tell you how much fun I had crushing gravel all night and all day last Saturday. The event is extremely well organized by the amazing Trenton, who somehow does it all side by side with his family and friends with big smiles and much cheer throughout the entire race. Trenton also is the Race Organizer for the Filthy Fifty Gravel Race.
    DaMN starts at midnight. 170+ racers rode out of Gary, SD in pitch darkness due to overcast skies.

    Here are some random thoughts I had during the race:
    - Did I hear that guy say he's carrying a spare tire? Crap! I only have one tube, which I knew was risky, but now it seems preposterous... I'm doomed
    - Was I thinking straight signing up for this knowing that I was doing it alone... unsupported?
    - I wish I had worked out something so that I wasn't leaving a borrowed car out here.
    - Do I have time for one more sandwich? They taste great!
    - I'm pretty sure I'll be good with just the short sleeved Norsk shirt and a pair of shorts... I'll probably be a bit chilled at the start
    - It's go-time. I am sooo ready for this
    - Fireworks start the race. That's so fun.
    - Hey, there's Linda and Val
    - Wow, I've fallen back from the line of racers. I think I'll try and catch them
    - Whoa! sandy road conditions. What the hell was I so over confident about? This might turn out to be a nightmare. Last year the first 60 miles were smooth and fast. Yikes, that guy nearly sideswiped me.
    - Can you believe how we go from night chilled air to steamy hot air in an instant?
    - The fog and heat variances has my glasses way messed up with condensation, though they look more like I'm riding in rain
    - Hey, wait, this might be our turn. Yes, it IS our turn. Hey! Stop... Bummer, those 2 guys just missed the turn. I gotta be super careful not to screw up on the cue sheets
    - One things for sure, the cue sheets are not to be doubted.
    - My lights are solid... OMG, that muskrat is in my way and I don't have great control in this loose gravel. Whew! Just missed it. I guess it wasn't moving because my light blinded it.
    - Why are these guys hanging behind me? I know they're faster than me? "you having a good ride?" Oh, got it, your lights are out of power and you need an escort. All good
    - I can taste The Baker's Wife Doughnuts now. There's The Banjo Brother's Checkpoint one!
    - Wow! That owl hooting was amazing. I want to catch those two in front of me and see if they heard it. It was magical... Oh, I can't really catch them. I hope they heard it...so awesome!
    - I'm 80 miles in and feel like I'm still running on adrenaline. 80, that's 1/3 of the way. No, don't think like that. This event is 4 races that are about 60 miles each. Stay focused on the 4 races...
    - Gas station! Nice time refuel... Wow, a day old raspberry scone, this is exactly what I'd be eating if I was at work.
    - Hey, just finished my first century of the year. That's nice... My pace is still feeling speedy.
    - I hope they have those awesome crepes at the HED (checkpoint 2) again.
    - Yes, there's the 120 checkpoint. Hey, Chris Skogen, great seeing you again. oops, I bet that hug was pretty stinky for him... Can you send me that pic you just took? Crepes! Savory please... any chance I can have two? HED is so awesome
    - I'm starting to bog down now.Looks like that guy's struggling with the route... yep, we're going straight here. How's your ride?
    - Henry, from the Hub. Nice too meet you. I can lead for a bit. I need a quick break as well. My feet are starting to get a bit sore... or rather numb actually...
    - I'm really guzzling the water now. I think it's hotter than I realize... These hills are really starting to slow me down... This road has some frickin' fast traffic. I need to make a safe left turn ahead.
    - Holy Crap! That's a huge hill. It goes on forever. So much for my bank. I think I'm falling back from my 5 hour/60 miles mark.
    - If there's not water at Checkpoint 3 (mile 186), I'm going to be knocking on a farmhouse...That's no problem... Crap... I'm struggling
    - Hey, there's The Hub's Checkpoint 3. OMG, wasn't sure I'd make it...Wow! There cheering me on. This is amazing. Hi Craig, oh, you're filming me, yeah, I'm really bogging down..OMG! Licorice and the water is COLD. Eric, mind if I sit down. Really, I'm doing well? I thought I lost all my momentum. This is such a nice Checkpoint. I can't believe how nice everyone is. A cold root beer, that's amazing! yes, please...
    - One quick tweet and I'm gonna hit the road. Totally gonna kill it on the last section. 54 miles to go
    - Hills, lots of them. This starting to wear me down
    - No way am I ever going to do this crazy race again. 240 is barely possible for a human with a job...
    - Wow! This is going great. I don't think I'm going to be hallucinating this year. That's kind of my final hurdle. If I start losing it I don't have anyone to pull me back to reality... you got this Luke
    - I need to get the most out of the downhills at this point because I'm not able to hammer the uphills at all. Straight up struggle at this point.
    - I'm pretty sure those are the trees that I thought were 25 foot tall bunnies last year.
    - Everyone I see is passing me, but I'm only competing with myself, so all good.
    - I'm pretty sure I'm going to beat sunset... that would be so amazing
    - I hope the construction at the bridge is finished... crossing the bridge was stupid scary last year
    - The bridge is still under construction. Yikes, that truck is pulling a huge boat... do they know how wide they are...OK, they got past me...let's pick up the pace and get off this bridge...I'd be OK with ending in a park in Red Wing and dipping my tire in the river as the Wisconsin ending...I wonder if there's a park with water access...
    - I'm glad they put that DaMN route sign there, I would have missed this road for sure. Well, actually it's not really really a road, but a construction project. That's kind of cool.
    - I did it, just have to find the finish... there's the tent...I know I dreamed of doing some cool no handed wave and smile thing at the end...I'm just not capable...There's that amazing Trenton...How amazing is he that he came up with this? He's smiling... yeah John, you can take my pic. Where do you want me?
    - I wonder if there will be another DaMN...I'd be into trying this again...

    Completing the Day Across Minnesota was definitely a highlight of my summer. 240 miles of gravel roads that cross the entire state of Minnesota turned out to be a surreal experience that I loved training for and I loved riding in.


    Training: For 6 weeks before the race I committed to riding super hard every single day for at least 25 miles (1-1/2 hours). This regimen got me in decent shape within a couple of weeks and it got easier and easier for me to knock off 30-40 miles at a fast pace. Whenever possible I jumped the rides to 35-40 miles. I got in several rides in the evening as a way to get comfortable riding at speed, in the dark. By the end I was able to do my typical loops as fast in darkness as in the light. I rode many of these miles with Derek, who typically is riding these events with me (though the DaMN weekend he was unable to race). My only 2 somewhat lengthened rides were a 70 mile and an 80 mile rides.

    Gear: I rode my beloved Curt Goodrich all-road bike. This bike is setup with a 1x11 drive train, Jones Bars, SON Dynamo front hub that ran my lights at night and charged my phone during the day. I used 700x38 Schwalbe G One tires (setup tubeless). My Banjo Brothers Frame Pack was loaded with snacks and a jacket and my Carradice Twiston had my tube and repair kit. The Tubus Rack and SKS fenders were not needed for the ride, but I felt it was a bit safer just leaving them on the bike rather than doing a lot of work to the bike right before the race.

  • May 08 2013

    Almanzo 100: Packet Pickup and Last Minute Gear

    almanzoheader

    As many of you already know, we're hosting the Pre-Race Sign-in for the Almanzo 100 this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the shop, 3342 Hennepin Avenue South in Minneapolis. Weather permitting, packet pickup will be held outside behind the shop. Riders for the Almanzo 100 & the Royal 162 must exchange a signed release form in order to receive a packet. Ride over on two wheels if you can. A limited amount of parking is available in our lot, and there's ample on-street parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
    There'll even be a special for Almanzo participants looking to stock up on last-minute supplies. Don't miss it! Speaking of last-minute supplies... here's a list we've put together combining Mr. Skogen's recommendations and a few of our own. See you on the Spring Valley, folks.

    Almanzo 100 Gear Guide from Calhoun Cycle

    A supportive saddle, preferably one you've spent some miles breaking-in before race day

    Remember, as Chris Skogen himself has said, "Anything can happen over the course of 100 miles." We might also add: On gravel. In Minnesota. In May. If you're a fan of CO2 cartridges, bring them along.

    At least one spare tube.

    Don't forget your tire levers.

    You'll need somewhere to put it all, especially if you're carrying more than a jersey pocket's worth of items. New for 2013, Banjo Brothers Frame Packs, available in two sizes (medium and small), are the perfect companion on a gravel ride. If you're hunting a bag that is easy to access while riding, Banjo's Top Tube Bag, Phone Pack, and Bar Top Bag are all excellent, compact ways to go as well.

    A solid pair of shoes.

    At least one of us is bringing along an extra pair of socks. ANYTHING can happen. Keep that in mind.

    Hydration. We carry a number of unique solutions for helping you find places for your favorite water bottles. Minoura's dual-cage mount for saddles is a favorite of Almanzo riders. Not just for Brompton owners, the Two Fish Quick Cage is another great, temporary solution for squeezing in an extra bottle.

    A patch kit: lighter and smaller than packing multiple spares.

    Your multitool of choice. If it doesn't include a chain tool, consider bringing along a separate one just in case.

    Tires that play well with gravel. For every Challenge Almanzo tire sold through race day, we're making a $10 donation towards keeping the Almanzo 100 free for everyone.

    Sunscreen. Hopefully you figured this out on your training rides.

    Carrying a pump — possibly even better flat protection than your tire.

    Calories. Try your at co-op for the good stuff.

    Roomier than a frame pack but still compact enough for a minimalist rider, Carradice's Zipped Roll and slightly larger Junior are both great options for the items you'll need to access when stopping along the way.

    Blinky lights. One red, one white. Bookman has you covered.

    A jersey with plenty of pockets, preferably dark in color.

    p.s. If you cannot make it to Perennial Cycle on Saturday the 11th to pick up your packet, Chris has asked us to remind you that you'll be fine. You will be able to pick it up the night before the race in Spring Valley, or the morning of the race near the start/finish.

    p.p.s. It'll be more fun if you pick it up on Saturday, though.

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