Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I freaking love 9:ZERO:7

It has been awhile now since I started riding 9:ZERO:7 fatbikes.  It started with one of their first frames; a near red offset frame mated up to a pugsley fork and their own branded rims.  From the onset Bill and Jamey, the owners, have only had one thing in mine, making a great product and smartly growing their brand in a market that is quite dynamic.  I could go into details and changes they have made in design and manufacture to accomplish this, but I will not bore you, just know that they don't ever rest.




I work hard to be the best I can be at winter races that take me deep into the wilderness, no matter the weather severity, and back.  Iditarod is the best example so far.  350 miles of incredibly remote Alaskan wilderness where dogsleds, snowmachines (Alaskan speak for snowmobile), and airplanes rule; cars don't have anywhere to go.  Literally, after 10 miles or so there was no way to return or be rescued by car.  For 340 miles you rely on you, your equipment, and checkpoints for survival.  So yes, I try to take me physical condition quite serious.



On that note I take my equipment quite serious.  9:ZERO:7 is now on the 2nd year of the carbon Whiteout.  There are certain attributes that I would have asked for in this frame and they have hit each one.  Yes, this bike is carbon.  Yippee!  Guess what, the market has several carbon fatbikes to choose from and going from the barometer of simply weight, the Whiteout is not the lightest (insert horrored gasp).  Nope, not the lightest.  However, as Bill told me, "we could have made it lighter, but we wanted a durable product".  Hear that?  I have heard of many instances of people finding out that their super light carbon fatbike is not on the durable side of the spectrum (but it was a little lighter!).  I take great joy in knowing that my frame is stupid light, but also I don't have to worry about having to deal with issues on the trail because of failure.  Not that it couldn't ever happen, but the chances have been greatly reduced by design.  Beware when the biggest highlight of a frame is only what the scale says.


Now my really light bike is also able to run the stupidest of the stupid large tires.  Is that my routine set up?  Nope.  However, I have that in my arsenal of tricks and I sure as heck don't want to give it up.  When the weather out side is frightful, the Whiteout makes it so delightful.

You have seen my conversion this summer to make my Whiteout the Hit It right?  Yeah, my bike is a badass snowmachine and a take no prisoners mountain bike with a shock as well.  Back up kids, this thing rips.

I truly feel that I have the best do it all, shred the gnar, pound the powder fatbike to push my body to it's extremes on.


 

So what I am trying to say is this.  Thank you Bill, Jamey, and the rest of the 9:ZERO:7 crew for making the absolute best f#%$ing fatbike out there!   I couldn't be happier.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I did the Du!

So I loath running.  Really, I despise it.  Why would I want to run when I have a perfectly good bike?  I don't know, it just doesn't make sense.  Well, due to a set of circumstances I found myself signing up for the Des Moines Off Road Dirty Duathlon with my buddy Mark from Kansas City.  Wanting to have fun with it all we made our own "race jerseys".

His:

Mine:



I was running about once a week for a few miles leading up to the race, complaining most of the way.  The course was a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run.  The bike course was 3 laps while the run course was a shortened bike lap (got all that).  The course was all singletrack, nothing to overly difficult but with plenty that would trip up a beginning mountain biker.

The run went more or less as I expected.  Those that ran well left me to gasp and wheeze my way around the first 2 miles.  I hit the bike leg around 10ish? overall, including the teams.


Picture thanks to Eric Roccasecca 

That first bike lap confirmed that my abilities on the bike far outweigh my abilities running as I made my way into 5th very quickly.  The next few laps were spent passing lapped traffic, and trying to get the left calve to stop cramping when bunny hopping logs was needed.  The stupid run now had me getting odd cramps.  Towards the middle of the third lap I slid out on a corner and laid in pain for 30 seconds as my left calve completely locked up.  Onwards I finally went.

The run was a bit painful.  I sucked even harder and now I had weird muscle pains and walked the steeper hills.  Luckily I built enough of a gap on the bike I held onto 5th place.  Near as I could tell, the difference between me and the next 4 riders was their ability not to suck on the run.  I'll take that.  Mark would go on to win the race proving he is a stud.

Afterwards was fun hanging out with the cool Iowegians at the awards and having them take turns ogling the 9:ZERO:7 Whiteout equipped with Nextie carbon rims, Bike Bag Dude custom bag, and Wolftooth goodies.  The bike worked perfectly like always.

I would go on to put in another hour on the local paths as I have goals I am trying to hit.  Then loaded my belly with Chipotle on the drive back, because it is too damn good not to.  BTW, Des Moines is way cooler than I expected.

PS. Running Blows.










Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Gangter is as gangster does.

I sit here, patiently for a new 9:ZERO:7 frame to arrive.  My trusty carbon bike has lasted through a plethora of summer and winter races.  Has brought me all the fame, money, and glory there is to garnish from succeeding in my winter ultra goals last year.  I threw a Bluto on it this summer, rode it hard, and put it it away wet without a wimper.  Alas, my fork mounted roof rack was not as tough.  At 75 mph I heard my bike dislodge from it's rooftop perch on my car, then watched as it somersaulted down the Interstate.  THAT was the one thing that could kill my bike. 

So know I train for this winter's fun events and my clapped out beater bike.  A bike that has been abused for far too many years.  A bike that has been broken, rewelded, repainted, had the parts stripped off, and had inferior parts installed.  Outfitted with some Bike Bag Dude bags, I put in the hours, looking out the window for brown santa. 

And since everyone likes a picture, one of the family from this summer.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Let's start this thing back up.

Frolicking around this summer on my sweet ride.  I have had the opportunity to really "pimp my ride" the last several months.  I want to thank 9:ZERO:7 for making such an amazing bike.  My Nextie rims have been stupid light, crazy strong, and unrelentingly air tight (I have both a 65mm and 90mm set to play with).  Wolftooth continues to make the best wide/narrow chainrings in the biz, plus the GC cog still is kicking dirt after all winter's riding.

The Bluto on the Whiteout is hot.  Love it.  Now that I have more narrow rims (shown) the bike handles like I want as I blast tight corners and such. 

Look for me to start updating more.  Getting this blog back to the 2 person readership it once enjoyed.  Hope everyone else's summer has been great as well.  Winter is looking to be even more fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Iditarod Race Recap, in pictures.

First off, I want to thank those that made this race possible for me, my wife Becky, my parents, and 9:ZERO:7 fatbikes.  Becky understood when I had to leave for roughly 2 weeks while her and the kids suffered from pneumonia.  My parents would watch my children everyday as Becky would go to work, tiring them out as well in the process.  And lastly, 9:ZERO:7 makes the best damn fatbikes out there and made my trip a reality.  If it was not for the help from these people I would have poured over pictures on the Internet like I have for many years instead of taking them myself.  I was also riding gear that made the race easier including Wolftooth's GC 42 tooth cog on the cassette and the Cold Avenger mask for my asthma.  I appreciate their support immensely.

I took all of these pictures.  The far majority of pictures on the trail were taken while I was riding.

One word would sum up my feelings in the start area, surreal.  I have dreamed about this race, studied it, drooled over it, and been scared crapless by it.  And there I was, ready to ride/push 350 miles into remote Alaskan wilderness.  The tough veterans were traveling the full 1,100 miles to Nome, though the 350 seems to get the most attention.

Bill and I at the start.  Bill is co owner of 9:ZERO:7 and a great guy that let me stay at his place. 

They had this stand at the start, the drive out was a decent distance, so hell yeah I had a reindeer sausage before the start.

Official start line.

And we're off.

Only course rule is you need to check in at different points.  The fastest way to CP #1 would be to hop on this gravel road for a bit.

Then onto pavement.  Where we were going though, you are not able to drive.  Only fly or travel on the trail.  We were quickly down to 8 or so riders on the front.
We had groupies following us as we headed out.  Jamie (other co-owner of 9:ZERO:7), Will (1st loser behind Ned Overend at the Fat Bike Nationals), and Dilly.

I was told this was the "pipeline" trail.  I only assumed there was an oil pipeline under us, just one of many firsts for myself. 

Coming across Flathorn lake, roughly 30 miles in.  Made bikerumor.com's pic of the day.

Hitting Yetna river it was down to Kevin Breitenbach, Tim Bernstom, Alec Petro, Todd McFadden, and Myself  on the front.

Leaving Yetna station after having some really good chicken noodle soup and being creeped out by the kid in a side room playing Nintendo 64.

Leaving Yetna at 59 miles in I backed my pace down as my asthma flaired up.  I would get into Skwentna after the other 4 at 90 miles and see Kevin casually sipping coffee with his feet up.  I was confused at this point.

I followed everyone's lead and set out my clothes to dry.  Meanwhile I ate and put my legs up.  10 hours in and I was starting to feel it.
We were in the middle of nowhere, watching piped in motocross.  More confusion.

They had a dog.

I left Skwentna, got a tad lost, froze my camelbak, got dehydrated, slept at Shell Lake Lodge breifly along with a bunch of other riders, and left there in the dark with Todd (fellow MN'n) to head down the trail.  As the sun came up there was a discussion about the trail kicking our butts more than we expected.  It dipped down to -10F

After my front wheel sunk into the snow causing me to hit the ground hard and shaking me up, and then a clumsily fixed broken chain, I rolled on to Finger Lake well behind Todd.  This is home of Winterlake Lodge (in the distance) at mile 130.  Winterlake Lodge is by far our nicest checkpoint and location or #1 of 2 dropbags.

Todd and I would leave together once again.  He would soon leave me as I struggled to breath in the now hilly terrain.  My asthma seemed to take 15-30 minutes to settle after each stop.

Looking down part of the Happy River Steps.  This was a big struggle just to push up as they were quite steep.

I am not sure what lake this is, the pilots here called it Helicopter Lake as there was a downed helicopter there.  I spoke with them a bit as one of their sons came over with the treasure he found in the wreckage.

Looking back at Helicopter Lake.

I don't think this was a normal tree.


Puntilla lake, home of Rainy Pass lodge about 165 miles in.

The sun was setting on Rainy Pass.  As I came in to this stop, I was thinking a 1-2 hour break and continuing with plans to sleep at the top of the pass or in Rohn, out next stop.  Pete Basinger was leaving and Francis Lambert was getting ready to leave.  Todd was set to go into touring mode, sleeping till early morning as to see the pass in the light.  After a few minutes I agreed, and we were joined by Eric Peterson (also of MN).
The cabin was used for hunting and quite old.  I slept under Pumba.

At roughly 3am Todd would wake us.  We would fine dine on cans of soup heated over the stove before departing.

The outside.  Leaving the cabin my asthma suffered along with my butt as the skin was worn away.  Both got better after 30 minutes, both would be problems after each checkpoint.

The trip over the pass went more up then down, but this guy walked almost all of it.  We would pass him, making sure he was alright. 

Damn you Todd, you said we would see the pass in the light!  Eric and I would enjoy the top together as Todd had moved ahead.

The downhill was awesome for the most part.  Some flat, some sketchiness, some bushwacking, and lots of all out 2 wheel drifting downhill radness.  There was lots of hooting and hollering from both of us.

Eric in part of Dalzell Gorge.

Just one of many stream crossings that would make me think.

We came out onto this frozen river.  Whole thing was glaze ice except where the trail had packed down snow.

There were plenty of moose tracks, but no moose.
Pulling into Rohn I was asked, "brat or reindeer sausage?"  Well, I already consumed reindeer at the start, so brat it was.  I wish I remember the 2 volunteers there because they were awesome!  Coolest checkpint I have to say.  Felt the need to do a duckface selfie as a joke.
There is a cabin, but it was being prepped for the dog sleds to come.  We got a nice heated tent.

Last year someone whipped out a satellite phone and updated Facebook.  Seriously.

There were lots of people here and I was grew annoyed as I wanted to be further ahead in the field.  I set out ahead of everyone else, certain Todd and Eric would catch me as my lungs warmed up.  Kevin and Tim left about 12 hours before us (I left at 10:40am), Pete Basinger (6 time winner) about 11 hours, and Francis Lambert about 2 1/2 hours.  There would be numerous riders leaving right after me.

Just crossing more glare ice.  There was a reason almost everyone had studded tires this year.
Looking down the steepest part of the Post River Glacier.  It took me a long time as my studded boots were not working at all.


I rode most of the rest.


In the Farewell Burn, a million acre area decimated by fire years ago.  This picture is looking back at what we had just gone through.

This section was free of almost all snow.  Warm temps with a strong tail wind made it super fast and fun.  It was about here that I decided to go all the way to McGrath without another significant stop; race mode reengaged.  Doing the math, I thought I might be able to get in under 3 days, maybe.

Just one of many lakes we crossed.

This was possibly the biggest lake we crossed after Flathorn.  The trail was way off in the distance and I just followed the few tracks I could find all the way across.

The rolling hills of the burn would give way to flat, straight, and snow.

This is Bob going out to hunt Moose.  He would tell me Francis was 2 miles up.  Can you say motivation?  At this point we were going into a headwind and lots of open area.  It hurt some.

I think this was "fish cabin"  I could be wrong and someone will probably correct me in the comments.
Rolling into Nicolai after 300 miles, having not seen anyone else since Rohn except for Francis whom I passed about 5 miles back.  Surprisingly, Pete was still at the checkpoint getting ready to leave.  Knowing I had made 11 hours up on him in 100 miles he now was firmly in my sights.  I first met Pete at Skwentna, and he proved over and over to be a really nice guy, willing to share info from his experience.  Todd would roll into Nickolai 15 minutes after me, Francis about 20.  I would stay for about 30 minutes, leaving before Todd and Francis, running into Eric on the way out.


Can you see the one and only moose I saw all race?  Todd would soon pass me on the way to McGrath and we would exchange words as we both knew it was almost done and our times to McGrath were going to be faster than anyone had in a previous year.  I would catch Pete about halfway trying to tell a joke that I don't think landed.  The last 20 miles was really rough.  I wanted to eat more, I wanted to drink more, I desperately wanted to lay down and rest, but overwhelmingly I wanted to keep up my pace so that I would not see Pete or Francis until the finish as I was wanting the top 5 finish.  It was the hardest time I have ever had on the bike. I ended up not following the fastest route, but still held on to 5th!  I went from top 5 to 15th or so and back to top 5!  I rode the last 170 miles in about 23 hours with no sleep and 2 stops that totaled about 90 minutes.  I was ready to lay down.  Finished in just under 2 1/2 days.  About 7 hours behind Kevin and Tim, roughly 10 hours ahead of Jay Petervary's record set the previous year.  Yeah, it was fast out there.

The finish is great as there is a ton of food and friendly conversation.  Kevin would not only win the race in record time, but as I walked in the door at 2am, he was there with a hug and a congratulations.  On my way out he, like most people I meet, wanted a selfie.

The finish, complete with bikes.

The only way back is to fly or turn around and take the trail.  Despite the tiny airline check in, we still had to check in 2 hours early.  Funny.
Eric, Todd, Francis, and I would eat at the Iditarod Trail Cafe where they have a autographed picture of Ron Jeremy and bacon cheese burgers for $18.  Food is expensive when it all has to be flown in.

The guy in the truck stopped and asked us if we "smoked marijuna."  He assumed to do the raced we had to be stoned and proceed to tell us how he had been high for the last 20 years.  I believed him.  For the record, no I do not despite my face here.
Eric got yelled at as he rode his bike because they assumed he was a terrorist.



From Anchorage we would go our separate ways.  What an amazing trip with amazing people.  I have never met a finer group of people at a race.