Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solar Shields




At first, I told myself I’d only wear them while cycling. They were, after all, ridiculous—cheap, oversized, drugstore sunglasses, the kind with side-wraps. The kind you see being worn only by old, cane-wielding  men in the park. The kind that fit over your actual glasses. They cost $25, my Solar Shields.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dusty 100 2017 Report


A big, dusty shout out to the 15 riders who rolled up to the start line on Sunday for the third annual Dusty 100 Gravel Challenge. We had a little bit of everything: racing bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes, a single speed, aero bars, a skin suit, a floor pump lashed to a top tube, and a thumping bass line from the campground down the road. And, of course, a solitary bugle.


The gravel gods must have liked the bugle call, because they definitely smiled on us: perfect weather and better gravel-road conditions than anticipated made for a stellar day on the quiet, scenic roads of Smoky Lake County.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Few More Dusty 100 Notes

This rain today may actually be a good thing for Sunday's ride; a little precipitation (the key word being little) may well firm up some of those soft gravel sections on the Dusty 100 route. 

A couple of route notes. We had a question about why we're not using the Iron Horse Trail that runs parallel to our route between Smoky Lake and Waskatenau. That's a fair question. Fact is, the first year of the Dusty 100 we tried the Iron Horse Trail, but it was so horrendous--we're talking 6-inch-deep river rock and baby heads--that most of us bailed and went over to the road. (Val stuck it out on his fatty, but he paid for it. He was vibrating for days.) 

But we're going to allow the Iron Horse as an option; it's a little bit longer than taking the road, but certainly more scenic than the infamous Warspite Mind Warp Zone. I've included the turn off for the Iron Horse on the cue sheet.

Also, Aaron kindly sent a link for a turn-by-turn GPS file:https://ridewithgps.com/routes/21742703


We ride regardless of weather. 9 am start. The bugle waits for no one.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dusty 100 Route Details


The route for Sunday is confirmed, after a recon drive out to Dusty country last night. Same as last year. Here's the map.

We'll have cue sheets to hand out. The GPX file is here. It's from a few years ago when the start was at Victoria Settlement, but the route is the same.

The meeting/starting point is the small parking lot beside the monument with three flags, about one km east of the Metis Crossing campground. 

This year's Dusty 100 looks to be especially challenging. The gravel is fresh, soft, and deep in places, especially on the first half of the route. It's going to be a grind.  I would not attempt this ride on tires less than 32 mm wide, and even that could be pushing it. (In fact, you could quite literally end up pushing your bike for stretches.)

Have a look at the route and scope out a back up plan for if you have to bail. There are a few obvious places where you can cut the ride short. 

Oh, and the Dustometer is off the charts. I'll be packing the dust cover for my bugle. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gironimo!


Tim Moore is a funny guy, a talented writer, and the author of three popular cycle-travel books. His first, French Revolutions (2001), recounts Moore’s hilarious attempt to ride—with virtually no training—the route of the 2000 Tour de France. I loved that book’s very British brand of eloquent profanity, self-deprecating humor, and (also very British) anti-French satire, as well as its entertaining tidbits of Tour de France history and mythology. That formula worked so well that Moore went on to apply it to the second-most-famous grand tour, the Giro d’Italia, and the result is his thoroughly entertaining Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy (2014). (No, Moore’s third cycling book is not about the Vuelta. It’s called The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain, and I have to admit I haven’t read it.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guest Post: Dust is Hard by Allan Thompson


There are a lot of hard things in cycling. Hardmen race the classics, mountain bikers ride hardtails and are hardcore (or not), and roadies prefer hard tires. We go hard and then bonk hard, and in a velodrome, the shouts from coaches of “Hard! Hard! Hard!” are common. So, last year, when I read in the fine print that the Dusty 107 was also hard, I didn’t give it the thought or respect I should have. I stuck the widest tires I own--35c knobbly cyclocross tubs--on my steel road machine, packed a towel, and was off.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

In Pursuit of Spring


Over the Easter weekend in late March of 1913, the thirty-five-year-old English writer and naturalist Edward Thomas rode his bicycle west from South London to the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The 130-mile trip was a pilgrimage, both seasonal and literary, his destination the place where spring traditionally comes first and, more specficially, Nether Stowey, where, in the late 1790s, the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge had written some of his most famous poems.  

Thomas is best known now as a poet himself and for being one of a handful of accomplished British poets who died in World War I. But in 1913, Thomas was a prose writer, a literary critic and author of more than half a dozen books about English country life. It was only after publishing In Pursuit of Spring that Thomas re-invented himself as poet. During the next four years, up until his death at the Battle of Arras in March, 1917, Thomas produced an impressive and influential body of verse.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Steve Tilford


I miss Steve Tilford. The internet sucks without him.

For those who don’t know, Steve Tilford was a legend of American bike racing and, in recent years, also a successful, if eccentric, blogger, who was killed in a car accident in Utah on April 5. Tilford, who was from Topeka, Kansas, won the first US mountain biking championship in 1983, was a four-time national cyclocross champion, and road-raced professionally in the US and Europe with and against a who’s who of cycling greats from the 80s, from Lemond to Phinney to Hampsten.

His palmares are impressive, but even more remarkable was the longevity of his racing career. He continued to race his bike regularly and successfully up to the end of his life at age 57. Every weekend, for three seasons of the year, he’d load up his truck and drive hundreds of miles to get to some dinky Midwestern race, ride it balls out, and then drive home and write about it on his blog. That, somehow, was the life he loved.