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Casual Conversation – Mark Moerner – Rage Against The Chainring/Apostle Bikeworks

Casual:  Spoiler Alert!!! Peter Sagan is awesome.  I just watched him win the first stage of the Santos Down Under for 2018. I’ve decided to have #SaganAF tattooed over my thighs and forearms and his face on my Calves. I’m all in.sagan

I wrote the above a couple of months ago in my last Casual Conversation with Kevin Lee.  Another Spoiler Alert…Sagan is still freaking awesome.  He just won Paris-Roubaix in killer fashion with a 50km breakaway from the peloton.  I’m now accepting ideas for Sagan tattoo’s…

Today however I want to show love my highlighting a friend of mine down in Wichita, Kansas.  Mark Moerner.  Mark is owner and operator of Apostle Bikeworks Inc located at 2121 N. Tyler Rd, Wichita Ks 67212.  He is also one of two promoters (Josh Sears is the other promoter)  of the Rage Against The Chainring gravel race series down there.  The series takes place every Fall over the course of 4 events.  Well heck why am I telling you about…let’s ask Mark!

Mark Moerner

Casual: Hey Mark thanks for playing along and giving me some of your time! I wanted to talk to you a little about the Rage Series. How about we start off with a quick summary of the series. What is it? Where is it? What are the dates?

Mark: Josh Sears is the co-promoter if the RATC series. This is our 4th year of the series. RATC is a 4 race series in the Wichita area. The gravel course is 25ish miles and the folks who want to just take their time and tour it do one lap and the racer types ride two laps. We have had over 300 riders for the first 2 races. The final 2 races are in Peck, Ks on April 14th and the finale is April 21st in Benton, Ks at Stearman’s at the airport.

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Casual: Okay so. Series. Racer types. Each race has podium finishers in different categories? I’m guessing there are also overall Series points winners in various categories? Is the overall series based on accumulated Points or accumulated Times? Is the overall Series a 4 Race requirement or are you allowed 1 throw away result?

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Mark: We give out top 3 awards in 6 categories at each of the 4 races. There will be top 3 overall awards also based on a point system after the final race in Benton, Ks. We raffle all of our sponsors swag after each race so all participants have a chance to win something and not just the winners. Our sponsors really like that approach. There isn’t a throw away race but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t still win the overall if you missed one.

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Casual: Sounds good Mark. I love the raffle approach. Yes. The podium spots are well deserved and earned (much respect) but I’ve always felt it’s nice to give a little to all those riding their hearts out. Do the race locations themselves have any special significance or just trying your best to show what the area has to offer? (I ask cause I grew up in my area and lately been trying to highlight a few nostalgic places.)

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Mark: We try to help out small businesses by starting the race where a business will have a captive audience. Our next race on April 14th in Peck starts starts at a hamburger place and our races there the past 2 years has been his best days financially.

Casual: Very cool. It’s amazing the impact just getting out and having fun on the bike can have. So what about you? Being a small business owner and father are you able to get out much on the bike? Are you more of a trails guy or a gravel guy? I’m definitely more of a space it out find my peace on gravel kinda guy. I just don’t have the focus to enjoy trails. I do find that the moment after I crash…lying on my back staring at the sky…I guess that’s kinda peaceful.

Mark: Haha I try not to end up staring at the sky but it does happen. Before I opened my shop I was riding about 5,000 miles a year. Don’t have that kind of time anymore and I always put my kids first so taking them to their activities and spending time with them is my priority. I have a couple hours before work that I can ride but in my old age I’ve become a wimp and don’t like the cold weather. It’s getting warmer out so I have no excuse now. I like both gravel and Single Track but gravel is easier for me cause it’s less than a mile from my house.

Casual: I think that’s one of the biggest factors for most of my friends when it comes to gravel. Busy schedules and Gravel is just so accessible for all of us here in the Mid West. Okay buddy let’s roll out of here with some fun questions.

1. Favorite cartoon show growing up?
2. Favorite ice cream flavor?
3. Hurts Donuts or Casey’s Breakfast Pizza?
4. Bucket List vacation?
5. Advice or piece of knowledge for someone rediscovering Bikes?

Mark:
1. Underdog!
2. Mint Chocolate Chip
3. Hurts Donuts!
4. Iceland. Now that there’s a direct flight to there from KC I might just have to do it.
5. Just ride and don’t worry about watts, Heart Rate, Blah , Blah ,Blah. Just soak it all in as your riding and enjoy life!!!

Casual:  Mark thanks so much!  As a family man, shop owner and race promoter I know your time is limited so a few moments is appreciated.  Always great to chat and best of luck with the remainder of the series!


Find Your Gravel

I write this 3 years ago. Fun reminiscing. Still applies to this day. Find your gravel. You deserve it. Peace and love.

Ride Casual. Explore Casual.

Thirty two degrees. Rainy. Moderate wind. Shades of grey and brown. Definitely not the most inspiring time. Especially those days when that wind pics up speed and just digs down deep into your chest. Winter in Kansas.


I needed gravel this morning. I needed my chance to zone out and think over life. Nothing life changing. Just needed to recharge a bit. I did not need the weather that was given to me. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind being cold for awhile. I don’t mind being wet for awhile. I don’t enjoy cold and wet. I definitely don’t enjoy cold and wet on a casual morning ride before I head to work. That’s why people buy Jeeps. Jeeps can handle cold and wet. Jeeps can keep you warm while you get your gravel fix. I have a Jeep. I took a drive. I thought about life. I stayed…

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Casual Conversation – Kevin Lee – Spinistry

Casual:  Spoiler Alert!!! Peter Sagan is awesome. I just watched him win the first stage of the Santos Down Under for 2018. I’ve decided to have #SaganAF tattooed over my thighs and forearms and his face on my Calves. I’m all in. In two weeks I’m going to channel my Inner Sagan for my first Gravel race of 2018. The Texas Chainring Massacre in Valley View Texas. My goal..attack off the front full power for THREE seconds and then fall to the side for a #midpackattack full on rally. Boom. The man who brainstormed our torture for the day is Mr Kevin Lee.   KL2I know nothing of Kevin except that he appears to be Mr Spinistry.  Spinistry is a cycling club in the Dallas area and puts on a handful of well ran gravel rides throughout the year.

Kevin thank for you time. As far as anyone knows we’ve just finished a ride together. The bikes are dirty, the chamois are moist and the Irish Coffee is hot. Let’s go with a easy question out of the gate. Cool weather post ride hydration drink. IPA, Stout, Bourbon, Whiskey, Water, Coffee, preference?

Kevin:  It really depends on where I am at the time. Most likely if we’re just wrapping up at my Jeep and reaching into the cooler it is going to be an IPA. The Panaracer Texas Chainring Massacre ends in the Valley View town square and riders will be receiving tokens to redeem from the square vendors for food or drink. In Valley View you would likely find me at the Whiskey Hollow distillery when cool or maybe even Firelight Vineyards sipping on their sangria if it is a warmer day.

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Casual:  I miss warmer days… Ok. You mentioned the Panaracer Texas Chainring Massacre. Let’s get a little info. How many years has it been going now? Has the 100k always been the main draw? Do you ever see the 100 mile ride outdrawing the 100k? Personally I’m a fan of Gravel sub centuries during the colder months. Get out. Get in. Get warm.

Kevin:  Our first TCM was in 2010. The 100K was just introduced last year as the main event. Prior to that 100 miles(ish) was the payout race. This year we’re actually running both as the main event with equal payouts for the Open to all races. It hasn’t really been promoted that way, we kind of wanted to see where the racers were drawn organically. Currently, the Openl, Cash Payout 100 mile race has a few more registrations than the Open to all, Cash Payout 100K race. We do have other racing categories at the 100K distance (age breaks, MTB, Tandem) so there are definitely many more racers overall at the 100K distance. However, the cash payout is only for the Open race.

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Casual:  Awesome. I did not realize that so thanks for the explanation. Kevin how long have you had The Spinistry up and putting in races? Did it just grow from a single ride or did you create The Spinistry umbrella from the beginning and immediately start putting on multiple rides through the year? Obviously there’s a strong riding scene throughout Texas to draw from. Do you see a good mix at your events? Season long gravel riders, off season CX riders, mtb’ers…roadies. I’m always curious. We have zero road scene here in Emporia. No CX scene. A small amount of single track but mainly….and for good reason…we are Gravel. Dirt. Backroads.

Kevin:  The Spinistry started in 2008 with the intention of being a social media site specifically for cyclists. The idea hatched as forums were still strong and Facebook was just starting to hit critical mass. We wanted to be a Facebook for cyclists but then Facebook completely took off and there was no reason for a stand alone social media platform for cyclists.

We threw together our first event to raise money to pay our web developer. That was our first Red River Riot in January of 2010. The Riot was held at Bar H Ranch and was intended to be primarily a mountain bike race on the trails there. We had extra miles on surrounding dirt roads to create an “epic” 100+ mile day. Just as we started the race on an opening gravel loop it started raining like Noah’s flood. The trails were completely unridable so we called an audible and turned it into a gravel (mud) roads only event. It was cold, wet and terribly muddy. Folks were shearing off rear ders all over the place. I knew people were going to get back to the ranch screaming to get their money back and everyone would hate me. Suprisingly, people came rolling in grinning ear to ear and begging for more. We made the call right there that we would do a second event as soon as possible. That second event was our first Texas Chainring Massacre.

The TCM was our first event designed specifically to be a gravel grinder and we also built it to appeal to road racers in the area (cash payout). After those first two events our participants have always been a pretty good mix of both mountain bikers and road racers. There is no real off season in Texas but we did shift the TCM into January over the following years so it would fall in between the end of CX season and before the road season starts in February.

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Casual:  Love it. Honestly. So much goes on with so little time to absorb it all. Thanks for sharing Kevin. What about you personally? Where does your cycling passion and history fit into all this? Riding bikes forever? CX, MTB, road…all? I’m a late bloomer. 6 years ago and fell in love with the backroads all over again. Instantly brought back my youth when I’d ride those same backroads to get away. My way of being independent. I’d like to try CX though.

Kevin:  I started late myself. Around 2003 I was about 100 pounds overweight and l decided to do something about it. I started diet regimen and took up cycling in the neighborhood to start some kind of exercise.  I wore out the department store bike in about 6 weeks and bought a fancy Haro mountain bike for $400. My wife nearly killed me for spending that much money on a bicycle.

I started riding local trails soon after and I’ve been hooked on cycling ever since. Unfortunately, through a combination of injuries and devoting almost all of my time to the business I got away from riding myself a few years back.  I packed a good bit of the pounds back on so I made myself start riding again about a year ago. After Mike Hall died I set a goal for myself of completing my own event, the RAT 1000. I never compete/ride in my own events. There’s just too much going on for me to spread myself that thin.

Training was going well for the RAT and then I was hit by a car while on a training ride. A couple of messed up knees and a bad ankle set back the training schedule a couple of months but I still went out there and completed about 550 miles of the RAT. I felt I could do the whole 1000 but I was going crazy being away from work that long.

I’m really looking forward to doing more multi day riding myself but 3-4 days is really my limit. Anything longer than that and I’m missing the family and the dogs too much…and I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work.

Casual:  Very cool. Adam Blake from Gravel City Adventure and Supply is looking at putting on a couple 3 day bike packing events. Just mellow and chill type events. You definitely should keep an eye out man. Hey thanks Kevin for everything! Can’t wait to meet you in person in a couple weeks at TCM. Heck man I just can’t wait to take a cycling road trip in 2018.

How about 5 Casual Quickies to get us out of here?

Casual Quickie 1:  Cartoon you remember watching grown-up that you’d still watch today? (I can’t turn away from the old Scooby Doos)

Kevin:  I was crazy into Speed Racer when I was a kid. I would probably still sit through marathon of those if they popped up.

Casual Quickie 2:  If money or logistics weren’t an option what’s one Feed Station food you’d love to supply your racers? (Still dreaming of pour-over coffee I had at The Dirty Reiver)

Kevin:  There’s never not a right time for tacos.

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Casual Quickie 3:  Do you have any songs that give you a few more watts or rpms no matter how tired you are on a ride?

Kevin:  I never listen to music when riding but certain songs do get stuck in my head when I just need to keep pushing and not thin too far down the road. I’m not sure if my cadence triggers it or what but Red Hot Chili Peppers Sir Psycho Sexy makes a regular appearance as does Rusty Cage from Soundgarden.

Casual Quickie 4:  Any favorite sports outside of cycling? Basketball, football, bocce?

Kevin:  Hockey is my favorite sport to watch in person but I usually only do that once or twice a year. If I let myself get hooked into baseball I will watch/listen to every game I can but I try to make a point to not get hooked.

Casual Quickie 5:  Any advice for me as I prepare for my first Spinistry event, TCM?

Kevin:  My TCM advice is just to plan to have fun riding your bike. The course isn’t particularly hard but it definitely isn’t boring. Taking over the town square (distillery, BBQ, pizza and winery) at the end pretty much guarantees a good finishing party so plan accordingly.

Thanks Kevin!  Good luck with the Texas Chainring Massacre next week!  Good luck with all the Spinistry events in 2018!  Heck man just have fun riding that bike!

Other Casual Conversations

Amanda Nauman

Neil Shirley

John Wilmeth


Single Speed. Lap the Lakes. Vodka.

Single Speed.  Lap the Lakes.  Vodka.

I have become very comfortable on a bike over the seasons of 2016 and 2017.  The last gravel event of any kind that I did not finish was…I am not even sure.  2015 maybe?  I think I was recovering from a couple herniated discs and the Hike-a-Bike of LandRun100 was too much that year.  I’ve been very very lucky with mechanicals.  My time is coming.  I know this.  Gravel gets us all eventually.  I also started riding consistently around two years ago.  I’ve simply grown stronger.  I cramp a lot less.  In 2016 I finished around 10 century gravel events.  In 2017 I finished around 7 I believe.  Oddly enough only one gravel event of 2017 was in my home state of Kansas.  One.  The Dirty Kanza 200.  Every other century’ish long gravel event I rode was out of state…one was out of the country, The Dirty Reiver in England.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t look at local event, turn up my nose and say “meh”.  I need to ride more local events.  I’m proud of our local cycling scene.  I’m absolutely in LOVE with our local backroads.  I’ve simply been busy with Life on the dates of local area rides.  I have a loving wife and 2 very active young daughters.  I have a very talented and wonderful extended family with varied interests I want to support.  I have a couple jobs as well as serving the community on a few Boards.  Life.

I love Life.

SO…when a friend of mine scheduled his gravel event on September 23rd and my calendar showed empty…I thought “finally”.  Lap the Lakes.  Jaffar Agha’s labor of Love.  125 miles.  Eighty riders between the short and long courses?  Fairly flat at only 4500 ft of climbing.  Mostly hard pack gravel roads.  Drop bag mid-way support with water checkpoints every 30 odd miles.  Fall weather.  A huge and welcome change from the beautiful but relentless hills of Iowa and Nebraska and the breathtaking (literally and visually) mountain climb of Idaho.

Problem.

August to Labor Day is an extremely busy cycling calendar for a #midpackattack rider like me.  24 Hours of Cumming, Lunar Kanza, Gravel Worlds and Rebecca’s Private Idaho…a 3 day 193 mile stage race in 2017.  I was spent.  I was slightly burned out.  I need to throw more Disc Golf.  Did you know Emporia is a Disc Golf destination?  Dynamic Discs.  Check them out.  Emporia is a freaking awesome little town.  Point being I wanted to ride.  I wanted to support a friend.  I wanted to ride with local friends.  I just needed a change.  I needed inspiration.  125 miles of gravel…even flat, tame gravel is no joke if you aren’t ready to ride.  My friend from Wichita, Matt Smith, is an avid Single Speeder

Matt Smith

Photo Cred to Aaron Davis

and has been prodding anyone he knows to ride single speed with him.  I haven’t been on a single speed since being a kid on a bmx bike.  I respect Single Speeders but…gears baby!!  Matt sent out a request for more SS people to come to Lap the Lakes.  Jaffar promised a SS category if enough signed up.  Fine.  Okay.  I’ll try SS.  it’s “only” 125 miles.  Why not.  I put a Surly Singulator on my Warbird the Wednesday before the event.  I rode 20 miles on a 42×17 setup.  Seems fine I guess.  Thursday I rode another 20 miles…should be good.  Chain didn’t fall off.  Let’s go.

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Saturday morning.  I really didn’t want to ride.  I had a loose stomach.  I just felt…whatevs.  I could just do the short course.  60 miles.  No.  I opened my big mouth and said I’d do the 125…I’m doing the freaking 125.  I hate bikes.  Why do I do this?  I could be at home curled up in bed.  Norah or Reagan could be snugging watching cartoons with me…Teen Titans Go! Or Scooby Doo reruns…fine.  I’ll go ride.

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Photo Cred to Chris Nichols!

I decorated myself with some of my daughters fake halloween tattoo’s to make myself laugh.  I needed a reminder to not be too serious.  There’s nothing cooler than a grown man showing up to a cycling event to ride single speed for the first time sporting fake spider and bat tattoo’s…  I get it.  I didn’t care.  Fashion is stupid.  Do whatcha want.

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The ride?

I hung in the lead group at 23 mph for the first 8 miles.  We hit the first short punchy climb and all I remember was someone telling me “you gotta hit the climbs hard”.  So I did.  Stupidly hard.  Like Hulk hard.  I passed everyone and had time at the top to setup my camera, take a selfie in front of the group, get back on my bike and soft pedal until they caught up.  Kidding.  Almost.  I hit that first hill hard.  As Mike Marchand said…”congrats on the KOM”…that doesn’t exist.  I laughed and learned.

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Photo Cred to Ryan Balkenhol

The morning went great.  I rolled with Corey Lies for 44 miles at about 17 mph avg.  Not too difficult really.  I enjoyed it.  Yeah…it was mostly a tailwind and in the mid 70’s.  The afternoon got hot and windy.  The middle 60’ish miles was mostly 15-20 mph head/cross wind and temps soared to 95 degrees.  Can you say furnace?  I’ve had a couple bad heat situations in 2017 and I seem to be affected by it more now.  Could be mental but regardless it’s there.  Cramps started at mile 44.  Rideable cramps.  Just the quads by the knee mostly.  Like riding with needles jabbing you but bite down, accept it, control the breathing and you can continue to pedal through it…just lighter.  I know cramps pretty well.  A few breathe takers but I’ve had worse.  Around mile 80…I had worse.  Two freaking SHARP hits back of the leg high up.  Does the hamstring go up that high?  Hamstrings are always sharp.  Both sides.  Brought me up out of the saddle screaming out loud “WHAT THE FRIDGE!!!!  ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME!!!!”  The sun got very bright.  I had a moment of nausea and disorientation so I soft pedaled for a bit.  I really really didn’t want to call Kerri.  Corey caught back up and offered me a HotShot.  The real help was Corey slowing down and letting me hang behind him.  Human contact.  Reality.  I calmed down and chased him the rest of the day.  Well…there was no real chasing.  We were both exhausted so I just watched him about a half mile ahead of me the rest of the day and rode back there.  I was cool with that.  Corey seems to be a great guy and I had nothing in me to try and catch him.  I would finish 2 minutes behind him, ha!

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Photo Cred to Chris Nichols!

Fifteen miles from town I was D. O. N. E.  I looked longingly at every shade tree I rode past.  I knew I was 3rd place SS and only an hour out.  I didn’t care.  I knew Sarah was behind me in 4th place.  I knew if Sarah passed me…I’m good with that.  I’m taking a freaking 30 minute nap.  I.  Don’t.  Care.  Except I did.  Ten miles to go I looked back and yep there she was.  She motivated me.  She motivated me not because of a place on the podium but because she was still riding hard.  I need to roll.  It’s almost over.  I know these roads.  Hit one more hill hard followed by a few rollers then it’s a flat 6 miles to the Finish Line…with tailwind.  Fine.  I want the Finish Line.  I need to be done.  I’m overheated.  It’s safer to be done.

Maybe…

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Riding in was great.  Riding across the Finish Line is always great feels.  Seeing friends at the end is always a good moment.  Thanks for being there everyone and thanks for taking care of me.  Shawn and Lynette Honea…thank you.  Jaffar thank you.  Corey thank you.  Thanks to Gary Bacon and all the volunteers.

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Photo Cred to Shawn Honea

Thanks to Pactimo, Cantu Cycling Wheels and Lauf Forks for letting me be a Brand Ambassador for you this year.  Tremendous products all of them.  Truly changed my gravel experience in 2017.

Thanks to Team Mulreadys Pub, Firestone Walker and Boulevard Brewing for keeping me pretty in pink all season!

Thanks to my buddy LeLan Dains who acted as a Trainer and mentor all season long.  I’m stronger because of you.  I’ve never cared about a spot on the podium.  I started training to be better able to enjoy the cycling experience.  You understood my point of view and never pushed me to be a competitive person.  I enjoy cycling and pushing myself…against myself…pushing past my limits.  Thank you sir.  Enjoy that new baby coming in 2018…you’re gonna be an awesome daddy.

In two month’s I begin training again.  Cycling and this time overall health and strength.  I’ll be training with Carmichael Training Systems and a friend of mine Mr. David Sheek.  Can’t wait!!

So…Single Speed thoughts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the single speed experience.  I really did.  There’s a feeling of accomplishment looking at a hill coming up and thinking…”Well.  I’ve got what I got.  This might suck.  Let’s go for it.”  It’s a lot like riding a bike…you just turn the cranks, haha.  42×17 was great with all the wind.  Less wind and I might have been able to push a 42×16 on THIS course.  I had fun and that’s the main takeaway.

OH!!!!

ONE OTHER THING!!!  IF you ever find yourself in a supporting role for a dehydrated, over heated, slightly delirious rider.  BE CAREFUL where you sit down your water bottle full of Peach Vodka.  To a dehydrated, over heated and slightly delirious rider that looks like a thoughtful bottle of gatorade…or pedialyte…or anything with electrolytes.  NOT VODKA.  We don’t sip in that situation.  We gulp.  Gulping Vodka is a very eye opening experience in that situation.  VERY EYE OPENING!

Not that I would know…thanks Shawn and Lynette….

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Photo Cred to Chris Nichols!


The Story of 24 Hours of Cumming

24 Hours of Cumming
Over.
In the books as they say.

My team of Tim Mohn, Jeff Young and Jim Cummins was able to nab another first place in the 4×60 relay. Strong rides by my teammates. They never let up and just kept pushing. Proud of those guys. Hugs and high fives all around!


But…

Gravel is not defined by who wins a race. Gravel is more than that. Gravel is defined by the individual efforts. The individual goals achieved. The individual challenges met. Those are the stories that get told around the campfire. Those are the stories we remember and retell year after after. Those are the stories that become legend. The achievements are what stand out to me…not the wins.


Some stories I know about from 24 Hours of Cumming that defined the weekend. Please…feel free to add your own. I want to know more.

1. The little town of Emporia Ks sending up 15+ gravel riders to challenge themselves in the hills of Iowa. Thats a lot of traveling folks to a small little race that’s become less about the results and more about Gravel family. Less about the awards and more about the camping and the stories by the campfire. A race where the Cumming Tap is just as important as the beautiful scenery of the Iowa green.


2. Dangerous Dan. Great meeting and hanging out man. Loved the enthusiasm you have have. Awesome watching you roll in after Leg 2…120 miles down and 120 miles to go…only to rush the stage and Head bang a little with the band. So much energy. Wish I had half that. Of course…I’ve got two kids. You’ve got one on the way. Can’t wait to hear the stories you’ll have of the kid next year. Best of luck.


3. Natasha Krause crushing 60 miles and 4500+ feet of elevation. Her first ride away from the safety of home gravel. Great job!


4. Autumn Howell. Persevering through navigational miscues and finishing what she started. 62 miles turned into 70+. I’m sure she was disheartened and frustrated but she just kept clicking the miles off. Team out of contention she finished the job. Longest ride ever and I’m guessing easily the most elevation gain. Awesome.


5. Courtney Huber. First long solo night ride. Way to fight off the fear and ride through the nigh. Navigational perfection. Great ride when nothing was on the line except the personal challenge of doing it. I heard you bunny hopped a family of raccoons?? Maybe that was just folklore…Proud of you!


6. Mr John Freaking Decker – the man rode an awesome fricking ride only to be derailed 6 miles from the Finish Line…where his relay teammate waited…by his entire crankset falling off his bike! No 8mm wrench in hand John was forced to jog, run and glide the remaining 6 miles. Six miles of HILLS…after midnight!! He could have stopped but his team waited. They needed him so he kept going strong. Way to get it in buddy. Way so cool!! Give it a couple years and the story will be 30 miles instead of just 6…legend.


7. Balkenhol. Helping and supporting all freaking day. Never complaining. Just “what do you need?”. Doesn’t start his ride until 1:30am. No chance to enjoy the scenery. Crushes the route in under 4 hours. Raccoons and deer lining the ditches ringing cowbells and giving handups all the way. Cheating if you ask me but nonetheless…epic. Great job buddy.


8. Shawn Legend of The Flint Hills O’Mara. 400k solo. Shawn wasn’t racing. Shawn was riding. Shawn was doing what Shawn does. Turning the cranks and enjoying being outside on the bike. Solid. Always ready to give a smile. Always ready to ignore the discomfort. Mile after mile. Hill after hill. Move forward. You deserve first place buddy but more important…you deserve that perfect ride. You deserve that feeling of peace we all feel on the bike when we enter that zone. Love ya bud.


9. Steve Cannon. You’ve got a good thing going man. The gravel takes care of itself. Focus on the rider and gravel family like I know you will. The Cumming Tap is perfect. The grilled wings kicked ass. Beer was cold. Fire was warm. High fives we’re heart felt. Appreciation was true. Throw in a few trays of Cinnamon Rolls Sunday morning to go with that coffee and there’s no place else to be the first weekend in August every year.


It’s gravel. We’re family. We’ll travel. We don’t need much. Gravel. Beer. Coffee. Grill. Fire. Hugs and high fives.


Story after story after story. Year after year after year.

24 Hours of Cumming…Steve Cannon…The Cumming Tap.

Please come in 2018…I want to see your next story.

I know I’ve missed stories from 2017. Sarah Cooper killing it on her Fatbike. Smile leading the way. KateG crushing 120 miles. Jacob laying down the rubber and never missing a beer handup. Others. Don’t be offended. I’m old. I miss things. Tell your story. Tell someone else’s story. It’s gravel.


(Ps.  Yeah I borrowed some pics.  You’re family.  You don’t mind right?  Steve Cannon, Paulina Batiz…not sure who else.  Thanks.  👍🏼)


Embracing my Hypocrisy

Ride casual. I preach these words. Embrace your casual side while cycling. Go fast? Whatevs. I’d rather ride with friends and carry on a conversation. Laugh and enjoy the moment. Watch the scenery flow by. Catch the movement and grace of a deer hopping into the trees. Challenge each other on a hill but then smile and joke about it at the top. Regroup and tell a couple stories about the last ride. No true competition other than maybe who has the best sock game going on.

#ridecasual

Except…deep deep down I am competitive. I keep my competitiveness buried. I don’t want to accept it. I don’t like the way being competitive makes me feel. I’d rather stop and help other riders than “race” another rider. Sit on my wheel…I’ll pull you. You need a tube? CO2? Careful this corner is dangerous. Do you have enough to eat and drink?

I channel my competitive feelings inward. I challenge myself. I compete with myself. I win most of the time nowadays. I feel I’ve become fairly strong mentally on a bike. I know how to ride through cramps and pain. I’ve crashed and got back up. I lose occasionally. I’ve chosen poorly with hydration and heat twice and both times fell only to get back up via the ER and fluids. I know better but when I’m competing with myself…I want to win. Every time. I’m okay with this. I’m not competing with others. If I win…no one else loses. If I lose…no one else knows…it’s channeled inwardly.

Except…ONCE a year…I allow just a little bit of that competitiveness to show its face publicly. Once a year I accept my hypocrisy and show it publicly. Once a year I participate in a Gravel relay race. A team of four. 24 Hours of Cumming put on by Steve Cannon. Hosted by the Cumming Tap in Cumming, Iowa. Each leg of the relay is 60’ish miles of hard packed gravel over miles and mile of rolling hills. I charge the hills a little bit harder and take the corners a little bit sharper. I’ll catch a wheel a little bit longer and take a pull a little bit smarter. The beauty of the race is I get to compete against other riders without really feeling like I’m competing. I simply give everything I’ve got for 60 miles. A 60 mile ITT. I ride the first leg every year. There is no “winner” as I come across the Finish Line.  I don’t wish bad luck for any other rider because I know I have a team of three other riders backing me up. My job is simply to give all I can give and put my team mates in the best position possible to win. Sixty miles. Four water bottles. Six GU packets.  Roll strong. Spin the cranks. Blow yourself up and finish your ITT on fumes.

#ridehard

The rest of the day? Chill. Sit around and have a few beers with your fellow riders. High five your team. Support everyone. Cheer for everyone. Hugs all around. Food truck cuisine. Laugh about your lows and be humble about your highs.

Once a year though I do want to win. I want the team to win. I want to stand there next to my team mates with a trophy in one hand and a box of Zebra Cakes in the other. I don’t want anyone else to lose…but my team has taken home the 1st Place trophy two years in a row and I plan on doing it again.

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I’ll make this promise though. If we don’t win…I’ll still give hugs and high fives. I’ll still smile and laugh and tell stories. I might even…no. Never mind. Buy your own damn Zebra Cakes….these are mine.

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Good luck everyone at 24 Hours of Cumming!

#casuallyrace


Late June Mornings

Drinking coffee on the back deck. Nessie is on point alerting me to all the birds in the yard. Another Wednesday at the pool with the girls. I haven’t been on my bike once this week and I’m okay with that…until I start worrying about August.


A five week period.

24 Hours of Cumming
Lunar Kanza
Gravel Worlds
Rebecca’s Private Idaho
I’m not a “racer”. I don’t have that competitive instinct. I can’t survive an attack on a hill.

Racer instinct says “nail it!!! Watts!! Watts!! Watts!!”

Casual instinct says “that looks painful. I’m gonna slow down and eat some more Skittles”…I like rainbows.

I know it’ll all be good. I just always have a nagging voice that says…you should be pushing. You can do better.

Good thing I don’t listen very well.

😁☕️🍩👍🏼🤗

I know. I know. August will come. I’ll ride my bike with friends. I’ll give and receive hugs. All will be well. 😍☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

#ridecasual

Oh crap!!! It’s trash pickup day!!!!