The Long Voyage

It sounded good at the time. Fueled by the liquid courage a few IPA’s brings during the cold winter month’s planning of the summer’s upcoming events. I received the invitation to enter a new ride, called The Long Voyage.

The courage lasted until this arrived in my inbox:

Congratulations! You have been selected as one of the 100 riders for the inaugural Gravel Worlds: The Long Voyage sponsored by Komoot! This event will challenge your mind, body, and spirit and we can’t wait to hear and see your adventures!”

Oh, crap. 300 miles across some of the most godforsaken roads in the Midwest. Set to take place in late August, long before the summer heat has subsided.

My last Gravel Worlds was in ’19. Finished the 150 mile gravel event in just over 13 hours. Crossed the line and had to sit down for a few minutes (first time ever). Walked to my truck, drove 1000 meters, pulled over and lost my cookies. That was my finish line experience.

The Long Voyage is 2X that distance. 30 hours to complete, start at 5pm, ride all night and the next day. What have I gotten myself into?


Knew I had to step up my game. The last couple of years has been a struggle on the longer events, which have been described in painful detail here. The problem’s called ‘rot gut’. Get halfway into an all day event and stomach stops working leading to all sorts of difficulties.

So, I hired a coach, Frank Pike, and started working on a structured training plan. I also worked on my hydration strategy, experimenting with various mixes.

Things were going pretty good. I was getting stronger and headed for the first big challenge of 2021: Unbound’s 200 miler in the Flint Hills of Kansas, the week after memorial day (June 2).

Unbound Gravel a.k.a Dirty Kanza

Being a 4x finisher, my confidence was high. That lasted for all of about 70 miles, until the heat kicked up and I found myself struggling to keep a proper pace. Things came to a head at mile 125 at the 2nd neutral water stop in Alta Vista.

Little Egypt Road, mile 75

“Good job, you made it just under the cutoff!”, the volunteer stated as I arrived. Oh, crap. Just Under The Cutoff. Barely able to maintain 10 mph and facing a stiff headwind home. I pulled the plug. My first-ever DNF at DK.

I was bummed, but remained resolute in fixing the problems and not giving up. Frank introduced me to an expert in sports nutrition, Nicole Rubenstein, who helped me determine my sweat rate and calculate a proper level of intake of electrolytes.

The problem is called hyponatremia and occurs when the sodium level in the blood is too low. I was taking in proper amounts of fluids, but not adding enough electrolytes. I started taking 340mg salt capsules in addition to what’s in my drink mixes.

Another area that I needed work on being calorie intake. It was tough to find something that’s tolerated over the course of a race, say 12, 16, 20 and with my upcoming ride, 30 hours. Under Nicole’s direction I started rolling plain white bread into little balls, and carrying in ziplock bags. One slice is 120 calories, easy to carry and well tolerated.

More Training

In the weeks leading up to The Long Voyage the training miles increased. 300, 400 miles per week. Back-to-back centuries, double centuries, all night rides, midday rides (in the heat) were part of the plan. Also continued with the structured intervals on the trainer.


A couple of weeks before The Long Voyage I felt good. I tapered my training under Frank’s direction. Rest was a priority as was eating right and avoiding things like beer.

Starting Line

At 5pm the weather was hot. But, a front passing through would bring some rain and cooler temps before nighttime. Frank provided last minute instructions. My buddies, Dawn, Jerry and Mike, were riding Saturday and there to provide encouragement. I lined up with the 70 or so other riders and we’re off.

Most of the others, say 50, were much faster and sped off into the distance. That was fine by me. It’s a long ride. No need to hurry. My goal was to maintain a leisurely pace, between 12 and 14 miles an hour. There were about 20 others that remained in the back. We had pleasant conversations and played leapfrog until the storm hit.

I’m pretty comfortable in the rain, and so didn’t have any problems when it hit. Fortunately, no lightning and most of the roads were fine.

Just before the rain

First Stop

When night fell the rains had stopped. I rolled into the first stop, Weeping Water (no pun intended), around 9:30 pm (mile 54). Because The Long Voyage is unsupported, the stops were convenience stores in small towns. I refueled and hit the road again, feeling pretty good.

The first minimal maintenance road (MMR) was just before the second stop, outside Syracuse. MMR’s are lightly maintained. Graded occasionally, but gravel is not laid. This means they get muddy. The consistency of the mud can be described as peanut butter. Very sticky, it will quickly build and make riding impossible. Try to ride it, and a derailleur or the chain will break.

That first MMR was rideable because the rain over this section was not heavy, but it was an indication of what’s coming.

Second Stop

The next stop was a Loves truck stop (mile 80) just outside of Syracuse, Nebraska. We first saw its giant sign 10 miles away but it would disappear and reappear again as we descended and climbed the hills.

I rolled in about midnight and so far things were according to plan. Refueled and enjoyed a treat of fresh pineapple and was on my way again in about 15 minutes.


Leaving the truck stop I flubbed hopping a curve, hit it head-on and did an endo (back wheel raises up and over) and dropped it hard on the concrete. It was embarrassing as there were maybe a dozen riders who were sitting outside and witnessed it. One helped me get up. I thanked him as I assessed the damage. Besides my pride, I noticed one of my aerobars got knocked loose. After readjusting and tightening I rode off again.

Back on the road is when I realized the bike’s derailleur was damaged and returned to the truckstop. As I fiddled with the derailleur the chain came off and got twisted in the spokes of the rear wheel.

When it hit that this ride might be over. A long way back to Lincoln (60 miles) and I had no way to get there. I was bummed. How could things get so bad after being good just minutes before?

GPS track at mile 80 included two false starts

Calm Down

Eventually, my mind eased and I worked the problem getting the chain back on again and reassessed the situation. I don’t have gears 4 – 9, but I do have 1-3 and 10-12. I can make this work.

Off Again

Now 1:00 am and in dead last place I took off again. It was a tough decision, leaving the relative comfort of Syracuse into the darkness, knowing my bike could break down at any time leaving me stranded.

During the first half hour, I beat myself up. The skies had cleared and a nearly full moon had emerged. We had a candid discussion about competency, i.e. the lack of. Eventually, I got over it and found a rhythm. Not having the middle gears was a setback. It meant either standing up in tall gears or spinning in short ones.

My chances to finish were slim, average speed had dropped to around 10 mph and I lost an hour at the truckstop. Oh well, shit happens. Find something to like about it.


About 4:30 am (mile 115) a truck approached me with their bright lights on. “Turn your f***ing brights off”, I muttered to myself. The truck slowed as it passed and a man stuck his head out the window.

“Hey!”, he greeted, before this…


I could tell there were others inside the cab with him. These hicks must have been up all night drinking and who knows what else. I wasn’t in the mood to discuss, on friendly terms or otherwise, lowered my head and kept riding. Fortunately, they drove off.


Soon, I rolled into Adams (mile 120). Blink, and you miss it (even on a bike). I passed the closed convenience store and heard shouting from a block down a side street. I looked and saw two riders in a dark parking lot. This was our refueling station. I would have missed it if they hadn’t called out. There were cases of bottled water stacked up, a water hose, paper towels, an air pump and some misc tools.

I got reacquainted with Molly and Steve. We met over the first 50 miles of the course. Molly was upset and told us about being harassed by the rednecks. They stalked her and tried to run her off the road. She called 911 and a deputy showed up. He told her boys will be boys. I would have been pissed too. She didn’t know what to do next.

“You can ride with us”, Steve said.

“Yeah, you can ride with us”, was my reply.

Before we left, we spent time getting our bikes cleaned up, mud out of the chains, gears and brakes.

“Thanks for letting me ride with you guys”, she said.

I had already figured out that she was a badass and so it’s not like we were doing her any favors. Everyone pulls their own weight.

Team Up

Now three strong we worked together and rode on through the night. About an hour later, as the eastern sky brightened so did our spirits. In 30 minutes, a beautiful sunrise greeted us and I began to entertain thoughts of finishing once again.


That’s when the next MMR hit. Backing up, earlier in the night, before the mishap in Syracuse, there was a nice lightning show down south. Not worried about having to ride through it, I didn’t think about how it was soaking the roads in our path.

It means either trying to ride the ditch or carrying. One cannot even push the bike on the road because the mud builds up and freezes the wheels. Missing my middle gears, there was no way I was going to pretend I had a mountain bike. Steve actually was riding a mountain bike and so he had some success riding to the side. Molly and I carried.

Four Miles

For four miles we carried. Built on a grid, each segment of road is exactly one mile. Each mile carried felt like an eternity. Over each hill we hoped to see a stop sign marking the end.

That is when we would stop and clean the mud off shoes, cleats, and the bikes, if we were dumb enough to try to ride any part of it. The cleanup took about 20 minutes. Walking a one mile segment at about a two mile per hour pace followed by the cleanup meant each MMR cost about 50 minutes of time.

Do you remember those old cartoons where the characters are moving but the same terrain gets recycled? That’s what this felt like. Haven’t I passed that tree before? Are We Even Moving?

After the third mile of carrying our hearts sank. Ahead was yet another MMR and another mile of carrying. Up to this point Molly had endured without complaint. Now her determination began to flag, as did mine. How much more of this can we take?

“What do you have to say about this predicament?”, she asked, somewhat rhetorically.

I repeated a line that Frank told me back at the starting line. “You have to embrace the suck”.

Satisfied with this response we accepted our fate and trudged on, not knowing this was to be the last time.


The halfway point was Beatrice (150 miles). I was supposed to be here by 6:00 am and it was now almost lunchtime. This is where Steve tossed in the towel and called someone to pick him up. I couldn’t blame him.

“Do you need a ride to Lincoln?”, he asked me. I politely declined but congratulated him on sticking it out thus far thanked him for being a good guy.

This was probably my lowest point, other than the truckstop. I was very hungry but the store’s fresh food options were dismal. I gambled on a sausage and egg biscuit, but it didn’t pan out. Tossed into the garbage after one bite. I settled on a giant payday candy bar and a coke but my stomach wasn’t happy and tossed them also.

“I’m not stopping”, I told Molly somewhat defiantly, popping another bread ball into my mouth. It was seasoned with some good ole Nebraska dirt, from the MMR’s. (Note to self: make sure you seal those ziplog bags containing foodstuff) She was inside the store talking to her husband on the phone.

“Me neither!”, she exclaimed.

And then there were two

Leaving Beatrice we turned north headed back to Lincoln. For the first time since the starting line, we’re now getting closer to the finish instead of further.

We were wearing down and saddle sore but worked together and did alright despite now headed into a stiff headwind. As expected, our pace slowed considerably. I was missing those middle gears more than ever as they are most needed when riding into the wind, over rolling hills.

After the MMR’s any chance we had of finishing on time was over. If I had had a working derailleur I might have tried anyway. It would have meant crossing the finish line at say 2:00 am Sunday morning. Another night of riding. The last 50 miles being the hilliest of the course, I knew it would be a struggle, literally uphill.

Without saying anything to Molly, who was still talking about finishing, I began to calculate where to pull out. 200 miles sounded like a good number. That’s the number of miles I should have rode at Unbound back in June. It felt a bit like a consolation prize, but I was ok with it.


Rolled into the Casey’s General Store in Wilbur (mile 176) at 1:30 pm. Here was a first class watering hole, complete with fresh pizza and icey’s. I hadn’t eaten solid food in almost 24 hours.

We got some looks from the nice townsfolk of Wilbur and we must’ve smelled bad. They were polite about it, but kept a respectful distance. Not that I could blame them. I doubt it helped matters that one of the items on my shopping list was a bar of soap, but we sure thought it funny.

“Try to look serious”, she told me before taking this shot.

What do you buy when strung out from the road? Soap and iceys, of course.

This is when I told Molly about my plan for stopping at 200. By this time she was getting tired, suffering from saddle sores and readily agreed. Our next stop was Crete at mile 190. The next one after that, mile 225.

We decided Crete was the place and called our respective rides so they could meet us there.

Molly at mile 176

The End

It was anti-climatic pulling out at 190. Definitely felt like there should have been more to this story. I had another 100 miles left in the tank. But, was satisfied with getting this far, after the earlier mishap. It could have been worse. This is why we never take a finish for granted. Shit happens. It’s all about the execution. The course has the final say. Find something to like about it.

Molly and I said our goodbyes, exchanged contact info and called it a day. A Very Long Day.


Getting back to Lincoln, had a nice beer and burger and soaked in the atmosphere of Gravel Worlds’ finish line. This Is A Great Event. Its gotten bigger over the years but has retained an Indie vibe. The organizers are very nice and cool people. I’m very glad to see their success.

Went back to the hotel around 7:00 pm, showered (of course) and slept for 12 hours. Woke a little sore and very hungry. I had the first of two breakfasts, followed by a couple of lunches. Later, I met my sister in KC and we enjoyed a nice dinner.

All-in-all a pretty good ride.

Next Time

Will I do it again, who the hell knows?

First 190 miles of a 302 mile course around Lincoln, NE

Top 10 Reasons Cyclists Choose Not to Hate the Warm Weather

With summer coming you’d think it’d be a cause to gripe but this post is trying to find something to like about it.

10. Plenty of daylight means we get to ride any damn time we please.

9. Being outside exerting ourselves and we get used to the heat, unlike others who’re afraid to leave their cars to walk across a parking lot.

8. Those frozen water bottles thaw out about when you really need a cold swig.

7. Getting nice and sweaty before public interactions ensures proper social distancing rules will be followed.

6. No need for extra layers. Put on shorts, jersey and we’re good to go.

5. Beers taste unbelievable after a long day sweating it out.

4. Food trucks are easy to find.

3. Events every weekend provide a convenient excuse to get out of yard work or anything for that matter.

2. No problem finding that seat on the patio of your favorite bistro and who wants to eat inside anyway?

  1. When else would you get a chance to chug pickle juice?

2020 Year in Review

I think we can all agree that 2020 was pretty rough. Many lost their jobs and loved ones. Our economy tanked. Businesses failed. Governments teetered on the brink. It felt like 1918 and 1930 combined.

An absolutely terrible year and it ain’t over yet. For all but a few of us, the worst in memory. So please forgive dear reader, this painful look into a past yet unhealed.

There were other declines to reckon with. In nearly every personal pursuit, 2020 pretty much sucked.

Mine’s cycling. So, how’d that work out? Not great. Most events, and all of the big ones were canceled. Dirty Kanza (now Unbound Gravel) was first postponed, then cancelled. The goblet would have to wait (was to be the 5th). Gravel Worlds went virtual. It was both disappointing and a relief. The right decision. But, it left a void in training resolve. Why suffer through all those miles now? What’s the point?

Paradoxically, cycling as a hobby enjoyed unprecedented success. People started riding their bikes. The benefits were immediate and obvious. Parents now spending quality time with their kids, instead of following their typically obsessive and harried schedules. Senior citizens and others (who look like they could use a little exercise) were now on the trail. Not just the typical hard core athletes. I welcomed them and offered encouragement. The trail is for everyone. The more the merrier.

A perfect pandemic activity. Tailor made for lockdown conditions. We can still ride while maintaining a safe distance. We can meet fitness goals (when so many others have gone awry) and blow off steam. It’s fun, cheap and anyone can do it.

Another silver lining, the pandemic induced conditions, i.e. isolation, schedule interruptions and travel restrictions opened up lots of free time. It offered the opportunity to work on weak areas of my game. Now that all rides are non-stop and solo, I can become adept at self-reliance. I learned how to carry more water, worked on electrolyte and caloric replenishment strategies. These are critical aspects in endurance cycling and areas I needed to improve.

As the year drew to a close a personal best in yearly total mileage was reached. A typical year is around 8K mi (12.8K). I’ve toyed with the 10K mi (16K km) mark for years, but due to injuries and travel was never able to get there. The yearly total reflects a commitment to a healthful lifestyle. It requires a focus on recovery and ancillary goals (rest, diet, etc.). It means being on track to ride well into the future, to enjoy its benefits for as long as possible.

Why I ride. I passed that previous yearly total by a fairly wide margin. But, exactly how far, or how fast, isn’t the point. It’s that we never stop.

Top 10 Reasons Cyclists Choose Not to Hate the Cold Weather

With winter coming you’d think it’d be a cause to gripe but this post is trying to find something to like about it.

10. Bubba’s are in the deer woods instead of rolling coal.


9. Don’t need to carry very much water.

self explanatory

8. No bugs to speak of.

Nuff said although some are actually quite tasty.

7. Roadkill stays fresh much longer.

Who hasn’t caught a good whiff of that varmit on the side of the road that’s well past its shelf life?

6. Can finally start carrying snickers bars again.

A fav in my saddlebag.

5. Brewpubs now have room on their patios.

Sure, it might be a tad nippy but that IPA can warm you right the fuck back up.

4. Sweat actually works as intended.

Really fun on the hills, wet up, dry down.

3. The noobs have all left the trail.

Not to be mean, the trail’s for everyone. Still, not going to miss those that don’t follow its etiquette.

2. No more salt dripping into the eyes or encrusted into our gear.

No, those are not salt stains on my shorts.

1. Snotrockets for the win.

We don’t need no stinking sinus infections.

“Nice Spandex”

The driver overshot the white line that marks where the crosswalk begins by about one-and-a-half car lengths.

I was cursing under my breath as I navigated around his car, placing me into the onrushing traffic.

He must have heard as he shouted at me after I passed. Keep riding I told myself, but against my better judgement, circled back and issued a fairly standard reply:

“WHAT?!!!!”, I shouted back.

It’s a busy intersection servicing an even busier interstate interchange. There must be 10,000 cars passing through daily. I’ve passed through myself on a bike countless times and have long since ceased being surprised by what happens here.

It’s an important transition point between riders who stay local and those who want to continue in the greater metro area. To say it’s not built for cyclists is an understatement, but this is the only way out of town.

“Nice Spandex bleep bleep bleep”, was his reply.

“Fuck-off”, I told him nonchalantly and turned back onto the original pathway.

I thought it was over, but this is when his engine roared to life and with tires squealing, he made a right-turn from the left-turn lane, cutting off the other drivers who were in the right-turn lane. He next made another right-turn, hopped the curb, crossed my path and forced me to brake hard to avoid a collision. Clearly this cat’s off his MEDs.

I quickly went around his car yet again, back onto the path and made a beeline for the nearby Circle-K service station, where I knew there’d be witnesses in case the situation escalated further.

Apparently he wasn’t interested in having witnesses and continued on shouting epithets and speeded away.

I was mildly shaken, but continued on with my ride.

On a scale of 1 to 10 this was about a 5. I’ve had much worse. From a danger perspective, it was fairly low. More of an irritation.

I’m not unique, ride enough miles and this kind of event becomes fairly commonplace.

I’ve given up trying to figure out the why. There’s no pay dirt in it. It’s more about trying to make sure it doesn’t bring me down, discourage from engaging in an activity that I have every right to be doing.

A little while later, on the trail, still a bit down, when I passed by a young mother walking. I slowed down and overheard her telling others that her daughter was on a bike but the two separated. I remembered seeing the little girl, stopped, assured the mom that it was going to be OK, that I’d seen her a hundred meters away, and would help them get reunited.

It felt pretty good to help and erased the negativity of earlier. It also helped seeing the other people rallying around the young mother and her lost daughter.

These types of occurrences are not unusual on the trail. Once, I delivered a juice-box to a kid going into diabetic shock on the Big Dam Bridge. His frantic mother had just retrieved it from her car in the parking lot but was maybe a mile from her child. It was one of the best miles that I’ve ever ridden. Another time, an old man who happened to be a veteran, got his electric wheelchair stuck off the path, and couldn’t get back onto it. Helping others in these types of situations is a privilege. We get more from it than they do.

A good metaphor for life. Ignore the bad stuff (that can’t be fixed), embrace the good. Do what you can to help others.

And ride on.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Coder Turned Gravel Grinder

Slides from my ApacheCon talk yesterday:


Some words about Gerrit Gorter… writer, professional, musician, husband, father and friend.

I just learned his treatment (for a disease I shall not grace by naming) has been discontinued.  He has listened to my stories, encouraged the continued pursuit (of silly things like riding gravel), and to never lose the childlike curiosity to try new things.  This talk was for him.

The Dirty Kanza Effect

It happens every year.  The Dirty Kanza entices me with the idea that it can be mastered.  This year will be the year I have that perfect ride.  If only my plan is executed flawlessly, if my training holds up, if I can continue to hydrate and eat like I practiced.  This will be the year I get to return to Emporia in time to enjoy that beer at the finish with my friends and family.

That’s how it felt last year, and the others.  This year once again, flush with confidence and those first twenty-five miles were a thing of beauty.  A gorgeous sunrise, cool temps, tame roads and we were all smiles.  It’s an illusion.  Every endurance gravel event presents unique, i.e. never before seen, challenges and the DK is no exception.  In ’16 DK was the heat, and the south winds that made it a brutal sufferfest.  DK ’17 brought rains during 3rd leg that wreaked havoc.  DK ’18 had those punishing north winds.

DK ’19 will be remembered as the year of the heat.  To a lesser extent the course itself presented challenges.  For example, the gravel was chunkier, more hills over long sections.  But, for me it was the heat that brought difficulty.  To understand what happens think about when the radiator in your car gets overwhelmed.  Maybe it gets low on water, the fan stops working, or even the thermostat fails.  That’s what happens to me.  I can’t keep my engine cool.

This is when I start consuming more water, which leads to an electrolyte imbalance.  I try to keep up of course, consuming various concoctions but it’s always too little, too late.

Actually cramps around mile 80 seem to be a thing with me and the Kanza.  Happens Every Damn Time.  I now believe that I must have a defective left quad.  Always starts during one of the longer climbs.  Usually late in the morning.  Maybe halfway up when the red lights start to blink and the cramping begins.  This year, I had the antidote. In our DK swag-bags were packets with cramp pills and lotion.  I had these tucked away in my handy chase camelbak and immediately placed a couple tablets beneath my tongue.  As they dissolved I tore open the package and slathered the cramp lotion onto my left thigh and it actually — worked.  Or, I thought it worked.  At least for a while, say 10 miles before the whole process replays itself once again.

A hot engine means a slow, inefficient one and so one has to maintain at a lower capacity, say 75% or even 66%.  That 14mph trot has become a 10mph crawl. If there’s water to be found anywhere along the way by all means STOP.  Keeping the water tanks topped off is one of the things that helps.  But, if there isn’t water, don’t stop.  Don’t stop at the side of the road to sit beneath those lovely shade trees (with all of the others) unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Above all, don’t worry about it.  For example, don’t think like this:

If that hill up ahead continues for what looks like another mile with portions having a grade of more than 15% and we’re into the wind meaning most likely I’m going to have to get off and walk.  Especially because the very coarse-grained rock and ruts make it tricky finding a proper line with all of the riders dismounting and walking…

It’s still twenty miles to the next rest stop.  My stomach isn’t working very well and my energy levels will continue to dissipate making it likely that I’ll need to slow down even more…

Instead, focus on very small details of the ride.  A kind of mediation.  Focus on breathing.  In, out, in out.  Focus on form. Smooth strokes. On things that can be controlled, like cadence.  Focus on other tactics like the line you take.  Little else is more important than that.  Take a bad line, it’s over.  In other words, think about what’s happening NOW.  Let everything else fall to the wayside.

What works for me.  I avoid like the plague the clusters of casualties who gather at the roadside, unless help is needed.  Stop and help the rider from Minnesota find her cell phone. Stop and talk to those in obvious distress, who’ve wrecked, unresolved mechanicals, etc.  Provide water/food to those in need.  That kind of thing.  The positivity of the present.  It’s the culture of gravel.  It’s why we’re out there.  The negativity, replaying all of the bad stuff that’s already happened, or yet to, must be pushed out of the mind.

It’s OK to think about future positives.  That tailwind on the last leg.  That cloud that might dump cooling rains.  The dropping sun means cooler temps.  I ALWAYS get a second wind at sunset.  A secret weapon.  It can be counted on, when the barn is smelled.

My last leg to Emporia from Council Grove was the second most enjoyable part of the ride.  After the smiles on the first leg they returned again for the last.  The roads were tamer.  Fewer hills.  I was able to maintain a decent pace that last 50 and cross the finish line at 1:06am.  Jim Cummins was there to congratulate us.  I made sure to tell him that the new course was AWESOME.  It was in fact perfect and I had the best ride ever, if not a perfect one.

There’s always next year.  That’ll be when I finally master the DK.


DirtyKanza Training on Zwift?

Due to an injury on March 14th, discussed here, the last couple months of my Dirty Kanza training was done on a smart trainer, using the Zwift virtual training app.


My Setup includes a CycleOps Magnus Smart Trainer

The Dirty Kanza is an ultra-endurance cycling event held every year over the Flint Hills of Kansas.


Sundown was around mile one fifty during this year’s Kanza ride

The plan was pretty simple.  Focus on time and power rather than distance or speed.  The goal, twelve hours in the saddle, at whatever wattage could be mustered, 75% of the expected duration to complete the 206 mile course, in a single day.  Every week go a bit longer on the long day.  Work up to the peak, May 13th.  Afterwards, taper down, sprinkle in some real rides on pavement and gravel and prepare for the event on June 2nd.

Here’s the training plan in Strava (hours):

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 3.29.59 PM

Screenshot of Training Plan in Strava (hours)

How’d it go?  Still in the Breakfast Club (back of the pack) but shaved a bit off last year’s time.  It was another tough year, featuring stiff headwinds during the last half of the ride.  Out of 1,016 starters, 746 finished.

The official time:

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 9.38.36 AM

Screenshot of Results on Chronotrack

The ride on Strava:

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 3.36.05 PM

Screenshot of Ride on Strava

Distal Biceps Disruption

Last week while helping my wife load a household appliance we were donating into her aunt’s pickup was the sickening sound of my right bicep detaching itself from the elbow distal tendon.  The pain was bad, of course, but the realization of the extent of the injury was worse.  Suddenly plans of completing a 3rd consecutive DirtyKanza were nixed.  In addition to a surgical reattachment, performed yesterday, there’s several months of recovery and rehab before I can return to riding once again.

In situations like this one must focus on the positives.

  • Injury to right arm and I’m left-handed.
  • We have health insurance and can take the steps necessary for a full recovery.
  • Support of a wonderful family, friends and employer.
  • I can still code.
  • Inside trainer to maintain conditioning on order.

There’s not much value in thinking about the negatives or what-ifs.  Life has a way of throwing curve balls.  Find a way of knocking the cover off it anyway.

As far as what’s next.  I already mentioned the trainer which will be a way to maintain conditioning during the lull.


Once the splint comes off and the brace is opened enough to hold on I am going to try and get some rides in (despite doctor’s orders) and we’ll see what happens come June 2nd.


photo courtesy of



Why I Ride

Say what you will about cycling, but it affords time for thoughtful contemplation.

Why am I doing this?  There are plenty of reasons not, starting with it being hard compared to other forms of transportation.

That the roadways don’t accommodate — we’re at best an annoyance, leading to spats and scuffles of varying severities.

It’s not convenient to commute this way requiring time consuming preparation.

Not a particularly time effective form of transportation — much faster to get into a car and drive.

Complications on arrival not shared with motorist; attired in such a way that is comically out of place of today’s societal norms.

Summing up the pros/cons, it can be hard to make a convincing argument for daily commuting on a bike.

So why do it?  Before that can be answered we have to delve into this issue a bit deeper.  What are the cons of commuting by car?

  1. The average automobile spews about 5 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year.1
  2. Driving increases stress levels and encourages a sedentary lifestyle.
  3. The cost to maintain the nation’s highways, roads, bridges and streets is hard to calculate but is probable > $100 billion US.2
  4. The yearly cost to maintain an automobile about $9,000 US.3

Back to how riding affords time to think — more questions to ponder…

  1. What happens when everyone on the planet is driving a car?  (How much longer can the atmosphere absorb the greenhouse emissions before lasting consequences)
  2. How much longer can governments afford to spend sizable portions of tax revenues maintaining roadways?
  3. When will petroleum run out and what then?

More riding, more thoughts… at the turn of the century (twentieth), the internal combustion engine (and its supply chain) was perfected, cycling was widespread and automobiles rarely seen on the roads.

We all know what happens next, but what if otherwise?  The bicycle the target form of personal transportation and the automobile for public and commercial usage only.  Cyclist in the majority; living close by their place of worship, study, work, entertainment, etc…  Commuters would be traveling slower and have to talk to one another — maybe better for politics and settling disputes.

What would our environment look like — still polluted with carbons?  What of our hospitals — full of unfit patients?  What of our cities — divided by giant, ugly roadways or connected by scenic paths?

Is there a middle road?  Meanwhile I ride and long for the day everyone follows…



1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle
2. What is the federal government’s annual investment in transportation improvements?
3. Annual Cost of Ownership`