Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mission Accomplished: Gut Check 2012

I have been a very poor blogger, considering what I'm writing about occurred in August.  What will it take for me to be a better blogger?  I'm guessing more exciting biking excursions and, most importantly, the death of the evil empire known as Facebook. At any rate, this is the big news of the past few months in my cycling world.

Have you ever felt that you let somebody down so you could have your own moment in the sun?  In the Gut Check 2007 I completed the Gut Check race across South Dakota in pretty adverse conditions, but in doing so, I left two friends behind at various points: Chris "Snakebite" Pierson and Craig DeVelder.  I was very happy that Chris went on to fulfill his dream of finishing this race the next year.  However, that still left Craig.  After suffering some nerve damage to his hand in his first attempt at completing the race in '07 that never totally corrected, it seemed unlikely that Craig would even attempt it again. I always had that "unfinished business" feeling about Craig not being able to finish.

Enter the magic of the Bacchetta TiAero recumbent bike.  Craig had been on a Cattrike for a couple of years and decided that he wanted to be a little faster again so in his search for a better recumbent, he found a Bacchetta Ti Aero for sale.  That bike looked so cool and was so hard to keep up with on my diamond frame, that I decided that I better get one too! I told Craig to keep an eye out if another came up for sale and within a week, I was in negotiations to purchase one myself.  Purchase I did, and many miles were accumulated and much joy was had!  So much joy was had riding longer distances, that discussion of another attempt at the Gut Check was discussed.

Discussions continued on into the winter when Craig and I both decided that step one in going after this was to lose some weight that we both had put on.  This step proved quite successful for both of us.  Step two was good off season training.  Both Craig and I put in many miles on "the bike to nowhere" over the winter. 

Early on in the spring it was decided that if we were going to do this, that we were going to do so as a team: stay together the whole ride, and go in one vehicle.  My wife Laura nor Craig's wife Liz neither had any excitement about driving, by themselves, at 15-20 mph for 412 miles across the state. Once the decision was made, the training commenced in earnest.  Many 50-75 mile rides, with quite a few century and century-plus rides, dotted our summer of training.

When it came time to actually leave for the Gut Check, it seemed surreal.  We both felt more than ready for the long hours on the bike that awaited us, but that didn't exactly settle either of our nerves.  The other glorious thing was the forecast.  After a summer that frequently was over 90 degrees, with many over 100, the forecast was for milder temps in the low 80's light winds 4-8 mph.  For a couple of guys who put in the miles, trained smart, and now seemingly had Mother Nature on our side, the table was set in our favor.

Our nerves were still pretty high at the starting line, knowing what was ahead of us.  Our plan was to take it easy in the beginning, get our legs warmed up, and then find a comfortable pace to hold. Once we got the official start, the nerves settled pretty quickly.  We did as planned, taking off fairly easy.  Even going out what seemed easy to us, only three or four were ahead of us early.

The weather was as advertised, light winds and temps in the low to mid 80's.  It was decided early on that if all went well, that we would make it to Gettysburg in the middle of the night and catch a couple hours of sleep.  The ladies made the call to secure our reservation as we kept rolling on.

We hit Faith, SD at a little after 6:00pm where we stopped to eat an awesome hamburger that was just what the doctor ordered.  At that point, 114 miles in, we were averaging 20mph and feeling great.  We continued with very few issues to Dupree.  We started planning for night riding with headlamps and taillights as we were hitting dusk now.  By the time we hit Eagle Butte, it was beyond dark.  We knew going in that the moon phase called for no moon, but the reality of how dark that would make it became a reality.  It was scary dark, even with headlamps and the van behind us with the headlights on.

We finally reached the Missouri River sometime after midnight.  The long climb to Gettysburg was all that remained.  After we climbed out of the initial river valley, the lightening we had noticed in the distance brought the inevitable:  rain!  As dry as the summer was in South Dakota, I'm sure everybody but us was excited to see the rain at that moment.  To add a little excitement with the rain in the pitch dark, there was a cat in the middle of the road that seemed hypnotized by our blinking headlights. I tried to shoo it off the road but when it decided to run, it actually moved towards me instead of away from me. This caused me to swerve and on the rain slicked roads, I actually slid sideways, which is extra scary on a recumbent. Somehow I pulled the old race car maneuver and righted the ship without dumping the bike. After that brief bit of excitement, we pedaled through the rain without further issue and made it to Gettysburg around 2:00am (1:00 mountain time).  It was a good thing as we were both ready for an extended break off the bike.  We found the hotel on the other side of Gettysburg, and there, taped to the door of the hotel, was three envelopes, one with our names and keys!  Have to love small town South Dakota!

Craig and I both showered and climbed into bed to get a few quick hours of sleep.  I started shaking after the shower.  Apparently the rain made me colder than I first thought and the warm shower really set off the hypothermia alarms in my body.  It took me a while to settle down, but I did, and we all slept for 4-5 hours. We woke up feeling much better than I think we expected.  There are actually pictures documenting us smiling wide before morning departure.  We had a continental breakfast in the hotel and then hit the road again.

I told Craig that I thought we should try to do the first section to Faulkton (40 miles) without stopping.  We succeeded with that and decided to try to make it to Redfield (another 40 or so miles) in the next stretch.  When we hit Redfield, we stopped to eat at a restaurant again. This time we spent a little more time than we expected but we still, by my calculations, were in good shape to finish before dark. 

Coming into Clark, there is a hill that I simply didn't remember from my first Gut Check.  It was a gradual incline for the better part of five miles.  When we stopped on the other side of Clark, it was apparent that the hill hurt us a little as we rested a little longer than our wives thought we should have and they called us on it.  I told Craig we should probably cut our breaks down a bit if we were going to make it to the Minnesota border before dark.  Craig was trying to convince me that we wouldn't make it, but I explained that the night before it went down a bit earlier because we were in the Mountain Time Zone and that we should be fine.  This fact inspired us to try to get it finished.

There is no denying that we were getting tired.  We kept on rolling targeting a split in distance between Clark and Watertown by stopping in Henry.  Henry's short stop was going to bring us one of the most rejuvenating stops of all.  As we pulled into town, we noticed friendly faces other than our wives!  Our awesome biking friends Karl and Julie Kruger had ridden in Watertown that day and made a special trip out to see us.  It definitely lit a spark in us as it seemed like no time until we made it to Watertown.

We stopped on the other side of Watertown with only 32 miles to go.  A quick discussion ensued and it was decided that we better split this into two sections.  Laura and Liz found a spot about half way to the border of Minnesota and waited for us.  After that stop, it was only a few short miles until the rest of the ride was LITERALLY downhill for us.

We hit the border to find out that we the second people to cross in the solo race in a time of 30 hours and 30 minutes.  This was quite the surprise to us, considering we were just relieved to accomplish our mission that started five years prior.  Craig was now a Gut Check finisher!  Will we do it again?  Craig says no.  For me, I'm definitely not ruling it out.  It's a great challenge that I've grown to enjoy.

A big thank you to all those who followed us via Facebook and lived the adventure vicariously through us. It's amazing the number of people who are considering doing this race now after following our training and hearing our story. Best of luck to all who do! Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank our wives who followed us all the way across the state in the "Bazinga Van"  providing us the perfect advice at the perfect times.  You are both awesome! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bacchetta Upgrade Number One

This is the first of a "few" planned upgrades to the Bacchetta Ti Aero.  Purrrty.

Next up will probably be the shifting.  Going to move to bar end shifters this winter.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

This Day in History - August 7, 1992

Twenty years ago today, I traveled to Deadwood to be a groomsman for good friends in my National Guard unit shortly after returning from Desert Storm.  I also learned that I'd be walking up the aisle with the sister of the  bride-to-be.  No big deal, right?  Well, twenty years later, she's still a part of my life.  Happy twenty years of "meet cute" Laura - Where's THAT card Hallmark?

Oh yeah, and for those of you who know Russ and Dulci, tomorrow marks twenty years of wedded bliss.  Make sure to give them a shout out!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Train of Thought

My Mom has been in the hospital and it's been pretty emotionally taxing on everybody and coming home from Sioux Falls the other night, I was pretty spent both emotionally and physically.  The simple 60 mile drive was already getting old for a person who bikes everywhere.

I think to keep our sanity up, we started playing the "That cloud looks like .... " game.  After finding a rubber ducky cloud, a My Little Pony cloud, and various others,  The following conversation then took place.

Laura: That cloud looks like a whale whose tail popped out of the water.
Me:  No way! That is totally the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Laura:  Oh I can see that!
Me: *humming the theme song to Star Trek*
--pause for a bit as we rode in silence--
Me:  You know that someday after Big Bang Theroy goes off the air there will be a trivia game about it, don't you?
Laura:  We will totally rock at that!
Me:  No doubt about that.
-- More silence as we drove along --
Me:  Do you have any idea how that whole series of thought tie together?
Laura:  Let's see....U.S.S Enterprise Cloud - Humming the theme song to Star Trek -- Big Bang Theory trivia -- You was thinking about the episode of Big Bang Theroy where Sheldon played the Star Trek theme on that "thingy".
Me:  ABSOLUTELY!  Only you could have pieced that together.  Don't spend too much time in my head, it's a scary place.  The only thing you missed is that I had to think about the name of the "thingy" -- it's called a Theremin -- and that's where I came up with the need for a trivia game.

Do Laura and I spend too much time together?  Absolutely.  We wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


It's time to change the banner to my blog.  The only thing that remains of this picture is the Grocery Getter.  Oh yeah, and the kid.  A bigger version of the kid.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Going Out in Style

My last post discussed my glorious reunion with my Garmin 305.  Found in a corner, shivering, grasping to life.  We nursed her back to health and she seemed happy to be back with us once again.  I tried to ease her back into society on a short bike ride but she would have none of it.  There was no power to her at all.  I performed surgery to see what made her tick and managed to get her heart started once again.

A couple rides into her recovery plan, she got temperamental with me and turned off in the middle of a ride.  That was the final straw.  The romance needed to come to an end.  After all, I had my eye on a cute little Garmin 500 for some time now.  After a brief conversation with a friend, the fine folks at Garmin in Kansas City shipped me my new love and she arrived yesterday. 

I took her out and checked her out, but I needed to get going on my ride.  The new Garmin 500 wasn't quite ready for her maiden voyage so I decided to allow Miss 305 one last fling.  We took off on our ride and everything seemed normal.  But she knew...Oh yes, she knew.

Somehow, unbeknownst to me, she must have ordered explosives for her one last mission.  A suicide bombing to take me out.  She just couldn't go on without me.  As I turned the corner and rode by the park -- KABLOOIE!!!  She exploded and parts of her bounced off me and I screamed at the horror.  All that was left was bits and pieces of her still attached to the bike and the rest of her was scattered for half a city block.

But she failed.  I'm still alive.  I'll move on with Miss 500.  I hope and pray it will be a long relationship without such a psychotic ending.  RIP Miss 305, it was quite an exit from this world.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Great Mystery of Early 2012: Case Closed

In the beginning of the necessity that would later become known as "The Great Basement Bedroom Remodel of 2012", chaos ensued. Stuff was moved around, packed hastily, strewn between the laundry room, family room, and the garage. As we slowly unpacked, and continue to do so, it was missing. I cried out to it. Searched everywhere. I was so sure that it became scared and simply ran away.

I couldn't give up.  I searched high and low, calling it's name.  I made posters asking for its safe return.  Made a newsworthy plea that if an abduction took place that I would pay whatever it took for its safe return. 

Still....nothing...after awhile, you simply have to move on with your life.  Accept the fact that it's gone forever.  Think back, and occasionally shed a tear over the good times you've had.

Then suddenly there it was:  A whimper in the corner as my beautiful wife Laura was cleaning the laundry room.  Cleaning the mess that I, in my anguish and pain, had made worse in my frantic search for it.  Stuff strewn to and fro, but that wasn't going to stop Laura.  She dug and dug, following the faint sounds until, there it was.  It had returned to me.  I embraced it immediately telling it that I would not part from it until the end of time.

Welcome home!  May we enjoy many more rides together!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We've All Done It

If you are a roadie and you haven't tried to do this, I'm very disappointed in you. I remember one night it was set up on the road by the swimming pool and kids kept egging me on. It was set at 25mph and I topped out at 29 going by it. I did about eight hard sprints and it was the best I could do. The kids kept saying "C'mon go 30! We want to get a picture of it!" Two more attempts and I finally did it. Then I promptly went home, laid down for about an hour because I really thought I was going to puke.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Art of Making New Friends

After a very long day in the Dakota Dome working a track meet, a guy who didn't look all that familiar to me, and may not have been from here, walked up as I was unlocking my bike, putting my helmet on, and had the following brief conversation:

Dude: "Why do you wear a helmet, are you that bad of a cyclist?"
Me (quite tired and now agitated): "No, but I've seen people like you drive, so therefore I will continue to wear it"
Me: *Staring at the guy waiting to see where this was going to go*
Dude: *Dumbfounded look*
Me: *Smile and pedal happily away*

Okay, it wasn't my finest moment, but it sure felt good!

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Streak - Five Calendar Years

Not only is today the birthday of my wonderful daughter Marissa, it's also the fifth anniversary of the day that I left the car for good in my quest to prove that I really didn't need it to get to work, no matter the conditions. This was the Monday after a nasty spring blizzard came through and a friend of mine called me to pick me up on a Friday because she knew I'd be crazy enough to try to bike that day. She was correct as I was all suited up for the elements and I caved and accepted a ride. This wiped out my longest commuting streak to that point: 48 days! At that point I was just wondering if I'd be able to break my old streak, not to be on a journey that has now tallied 1,288 days as of today.

For brevity sake, and because many of you who have followed my blog in the past already know details of my days that my sanity in commuting was questioned, here is a recap of some of my commuting highlights over the past five years:

* Amazingly, in these five years, I believe I only had to "push" my bike part of the way to the emergency snow routes 2-3 times. I live about three blocks from the emergency routes so once I'm there, I'm usually good to go.

* One day was so icy that I'm almost certain I could have walked to work faster than I rode my bike. I was thankful for a flat commute as even the slightest decline was scary and I spent as much time with my feet off the pedals as on.

* Rain: Snow biking is much easier from a biking standpoint than rain. Even with rain gear, a cold spring or fall rain is by far the most miserable conditions for me.

* Cold: I believe the coldest commuting air temp was -22 and the coldest wind chill was -64. Don't hold me to either of those numbers, but it's close at least. Cold can be brutal, but with the correct gear and only having a one mile commute, it's not that bad actually. Still better than the rain above.

* Lightening: I admit it. Nothing scares me more than lightening. I am glad to say that I've only had to brave lightening once during the streak. One other time I chose to be 10 minutes late to work to allow a system to pass through before I left for work.

* Obstacles: I have actually hit one squirrel on my commute. Calm down, he lived, though slightly dazed. I have been hit by a decent sized tree branch. On a windy day I was drilled by a pizza box.

* Spills: I have crashed on occasion, usually with ice hiding under snow. The worst was a post winter crash a couple years ago though. Going to the dome to teach my cycling class (pre Wellness Center) and I was taking the s-curves with a fair bit of speed and confidence, and I hit very loose gravel left over from sanding the roads and went down really hard. Lots of blood and sore for a couple weeks, but the ego was bruised the most.

* Conflicts with vehicles: Too numerous to mention, although either they are getting better as of late, I am mellowing out and don't care, or my education efforts are working as my coexistence with them has been MUCH better.

What does all this lead up to? Park your car and ride your bike. It's good for you and good for your soul.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Life Through A Cyclists Eyes

Should you fail to understand, please consult your nearest cyclist for further explanation. Ride on!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

State of the Societal Laziness Address

I don't get it.  I just don't get it.  I really mean it this time.  I.  Don't.  Get.  It.  At.  All.

I understand that I'm more of the exception than the rule.  I have to put thought into driving versus bicycling.  When given a reasonable option of biking/walking over driving, I'll choose biking/walking.  At work, when I don't have to take the elevator, I don't.

With that in awesome lead in, I give you the reason for this post.  You see, even though I often shake my head at people who literally drive three blocks (and sometime less) to work or to the classes at the University, I've learned to get over it.  People are inherently getting lazier.  I get that.  Don't understand it, but I'm learning to accept it.  People think about driving first and alternate transportation second.  It's sad, and while I do my best to encourage others to bike or walk, I understand that in the end it's their decision.  Today however pushed my "rant on my blog" button over the top.

I received a call that a printer for one of my departments was over at Slagle Hall, a couple buildings (1.5 or so blocks) away.  I emailed to see what model it was so I knew if I needed my hand cart or not.  It was a fairly good sized printer, so I grabbed the cart, threw on my coat, and wandered over to pick it up.  Instead of going through the entrance with the elevator, I went through the side door, grabbed the hand cart low on the base a just took it up the two flights of stairs I had to go.  I picked up the printer and had to head to the elevator for my trip down.  That's where it all went wrong.

You see, there are two things at play here:  First, the elevator in Slagle Hall, for some reason, is incredibly slow.  Second, there are classes on the third floor of the building.  I, trying to get on the elevator on the second floor, waited for an eternity for the elevator to come down to the floor.  It arrived, doors opened, and there stood four very healthy looking college students (you see where this is going, don't you).  A couple look slightly annoyed as I make them squish together a little so I can get on with my cart and printer.  Just wait, it's about to get better.

As soon as the elevator starts to descend, one student looks at his watch and states, "With the speed of this elevator, I'm going to be late for my next class".  I wanted to laugh so bad.  He's right, the elevator is slow and he could have been out the door on his way to the next class by the time had he chosen the stairs.  I refrained.

The elevator reached the entry level and the door opens on the opposite side that I got in.  For those unfamiliar, due to the age and structure of the building, there are left and right openings depending on your entry and exit. I allowed the students to exit as I was in the back and it just made sense.  Then, to send me to my current rant level, as I start to exit, pushing a printer an all, able bodied students start to get on.  I kept pushing forward as I found it: a) practical for me to get off first and b) rude that they felt they HAD to get on before I got off.

One person (I'll leave the sex out) basically stood their ground pretty much blocking my exit.  I looked up, making eye contact and politely said "Excuse me" and they moved a little and I walked by.  After I was clear I hear "That was kinda rude, huh?"  I turn around and as gave the 'did you really just say that' look as the door was closing and the person averted their eyes.  An elevator full of quite able bodied young adults went up on their merry, lazy way.

Young, able bodied adults, hear me.  I'm nearly 45 years old and there is a really good chance that I'm in better overall health than most of you.  I do the little things to stay healthy:  I walk or bike when I can instead of driving.  I take the stairs over the elevator whenever possible.  The obesity epidemic is getting worse.  Keep driving and taking the elevator and being lazy.  Seriously.  Feel free.

Okay, I don't mean that.  Not even as rude as that student was can change the fact that I want you to be healthy.  I want you to be active.  I want you to walk and bike and take the stairs.  If for some reason it feels like I'm talking right at you or if any of this resonates with you, maybe it's time to change your life.   Do it for a lot of reasons, but mainly do it for you.

Thus ends the rant of Biking Brady for this day, Thursday, January 28, 2012.