Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge

Well, its done.  I have completed my first “Adventure” race and let me say that it was one of the most fun competitions I have ever participated in.  The weather that day was absolutely perfect.  It was 70 when the race started and 85 at noon.

That day started pretty early for me.  Lawrence, KS is about an hour from me and I had to pick up my team-mate.  I woke up about 5:00am.  I was pretty excited about the race but I had slept pretty well.  We loaded our bikes ate some food and headed on our way.

Car loaded and ready to go

The race takes place on the Lawrence river trails along the Kansas River.  We registered and set up our gear in the grassy transition are.  Transition AreaNow it was time to wait……..

Run 2.2 Miles

The first mile on the run was on the flat levy trail made of crushed gravel.  My team lined up towards the back.  I always struggle with the start of long races because my adrenaline is pumping so hard.  I was a sprinter in High School so I have to suppress that need to take off as fast as I can.  We were passing quite a few people but seemed to be running at a comfortable pace.  After a mile the trail turns onto the single track which has small undulations and quick turns.  This was so much fun running on this.  Our main goal was to beat some friends of ours who were about 10 years older than us.  During this run the were a little bit ahead of us.  I tried to keep them in my sights and not let them get too far ahead.

Split:  20:00

Mountain Bike 17.2 Miles

The transition to the mountain bike was slower than I would have liked it to be.  I was holding my teammate up through part of this.  I really didn’t practice the transition and could see the benefits of that now.  We led out on the flat levy trail again for the first 4 miles.  We once again passed a few people but not many since I was running a single speed.  Once we turned onto the single track that was were the real action started.  It felt like we were flying through these trails.  I will say that these are some of the fastest trails I have ridden.  I was happy with my decision to run a single speed with a 2:1 gear ratio.  I was able to tear through these trails on that machine.  The hardest part about this leg was passing people.  The trails were narrow, most people would be curtious when you asked for a pass but there were some that would not.  This caused some pretty big frustrations, especially when they completely stop on an uphill or at the bottom of a blind turn.  This was the one drawback to my bike.  I was like a diesel truck, it took me a while to get back up to speed, especially uphill.  My teammate was really killing this part.  He was taking corners faster than I could on my 29er, it was great to have someone pushing me like that.

Split: 86:00

Paddling 4.2 Miles

I was pretty happy with this transition.  I threw off my shoes, put on my running shoes, grabbed a drink and we were off to the water. This section we did not train for at all.  I was initially pretty worried about how we would do.  The river was calm.  We were able to get into a decent rhythm and just dug in and went.  We were passed by one team during this section but did not let anyone else catch us.  My arms were burning but we didn’t let up.  I was really proud of our performance here, especially for no training.

Split:  49:00

Run 4.1 Miles

Here is where things really mattered.  We have already put in about 2.5 hours of physical activity. Do we have what it takes to push out a 4 mile trail run?  My team-mate and I downed some GU Roctane and headed out on the trail.  My legs were definitely tight from sitting in the canoe for almost an hour.  After about a half mile they finally loosened up and things felt good.  We were passed by two teams but that would be it.  We found a guy running by himself and paced off of him for a few miles.  I was feeling pretty good buy my teammate was struggling.  His body was definitely ready to be done.  I applaud him greatly because he did not stop and pushed the 4 miles out (I also wouldn’t let him stop).  I am pretty sure I lied to him at least a dozen times  telling him we are almost there.  We broke out of the trees and headed for the finish line.

Split:  43:00

The Finish Line


Our total time was 3 hrs and 18 minutes.  We finished 16th out of 56 teams.  All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the race and can’t wait until I do it again next year.  My teammate says he will never do it again….we will see about that.


Congrats to everyone who participated in the race!  What an awesome experience.  Check out a video put together by http://www.thedirtieduckie.com/ whom I met afterwards.


Wakarusa Off Road Challenge 2011 Results

Up Next:  Kansas City Half Marathon





Cycling Rites of Passage

I read this on Bicycling.com the other day and thought it was pretty spectacular and spot on with a lot of things.  Read the full article at Rites of Passage, Mark Levine does a great write up on riding and why we do what we do.  Here are his rites of passage:  How many relate to you?


02. You go from one pair of shorts to a dedicated drawerful. 

03. Being unable to sleep the night after you first shave your legs, because of the tingle of bedsheets against your skin. 

04. When “thanks for the ride” goes from something you overhear to part of your lexicon. 

05. You see someone at the beach tanned low on the quads and biceps, and give him a nod of recognition. 

06. Bonking so bad you don’t think you’ll be able to make it home. 

07. Discovering how a convenience-store Coke can resurrect the dead. 

08. Starting and finishing a ride—the same one—in pouring rain. 

09. When you hang out at the bike shop and no one expects you to buy anything. 

10. When your bike computer registers triple digits for one ride. 

11. Clearing a log on a the trail.

12. You embrocate. 

13. Staying with the paceline long enough to take a turn at the front. 

14. You’re on the bike for the fifth straight day, and your butt doesn’t hurt. 

15. You try bibs and realize you can never go back to shorts. 

16. You stop riding beside and behind the pack and instead ride inside of it—with no claustrophobia. 

17. You swing off the front of a paceline before you get tired. 

18. You blow a snot rocket without hitting your shoulder or leg—or the rider behind you. 

19. You notice that someone else has the chain grease on his right calf. 

20. You get stuck in your pedals and topple over at a stoplight. 

21. Someone you introduced to the sport kicks your ass on a ride. 

22. Riding a bike through a big, congested city and feeling smarter than everyone else because you’re moving. 

23. You wake up to find the sheets stuck to your road rash—and still feel excited about riding that day. 

24. Your boss stops by to ask you to explain what’s happening in the Tour de France. 

25. You fix up your old bike to get someone into the sport.

26. Wearing out your first set of tires. 

27. You ride through a pothole, and it’s no big deal. 

28. Getting hopelessly lost—deliberately. 

29. You stop midride to give your only spare tube to a stranded cyclist. 

30. You realize you’re driving your car as if it’s a bike—drafting, looking for holes, getting away from the squirrelly guy. 

31. Fixing a busted chain. 

32. When you no longer have to stop to take off your jacket. 

33. Feeling confident about taking off your jacket while riding—then catching the trailing sleeve in the rear wheel. 

34. The first time you crumple your race number. 

35. Planning a riding vacation. 

36. Seeing a sunrise from the saddle. 

37. Wondering how the biggest local hill would rank on the Tour de France climb classification. 

38. In your head, Phil Liggett narrates your ride. 

39. You got dropped, you flatted, bonked, got turned around—and when you got home you said you had a great ride. 

40. You roll through a patch of gravel and, without thinking, reach back to brush the crud off your tire with your palm. 

41. A rider you respect says, “You were flying today.” 

42. Rolling through a stop sign—and knowing it was the right thing to do. 

43. Doored! 

44. When you crest the summit of a climb, start down and realize you’ve gone the wrong way. But keep going anyway. 

45. Rubbing wheels—and staying up. 

46. Letting go of your kid’s seat and not having to grab it again. 

47. Getting a bike stolen and being surprised at how deeply it hits you. 

48. Cleaning the cassette with your old toothbrush. 

49. Sprinting the neighbor kids. 

50. Chasing a rabbit down singletrack. 

51. Falling asleep when you stop for a break on a mountain bike ride. 

52. Endo. 

53. Telling someone which bike to buy. 

54. Overcooking a turn. 

55. Breaking a collarbone. 

56. Figuring out how to layer without overdressing. 

57. Deciding which car to buy in part based on how it will carry your bikes. 

58. Your first ride with a jersey instead of a T-shirt. 

59. Riding on a day so cold the water in your bottle freezes. 

60. Discovering that a shot of Jameson in each bottle keeps the water fluid. 

61. Though you’re not clear on exactly how to do it and unsure of the outcome, you manage to fix your first flat.

62. Walking home in your cleats. 

63. Getting so deep into the sport you think your helmet looks good. 

64. Following a favorite pro racer–besides Lance Armstrong. 

65. Finding out your favorite pro racer was doping. 

66. Wrapping your bar tape so the handlebar plug stays in and no bare bar shows at the tricky bend at the brake hood. 

67. Naming a route. 

68. Bumping elbows, then being relaxed enough to make a joke about it with the person next to you. 

69. Sitting in with the big weekend training race. 

70. Developing that “V” of muscle definition on the back of your calf. 

71. Espresso at the halfway point. 

72. Crashing and immediately asking, “How’s my bike?” 

73. Fixing your bike with a rock. 

74. Paying for a coach. 

75. Figuring out that training advice doesn’t get much better than “Ride lots.” 

76. Clacking into a rough tavern in cleats and spandex. 

77. Having a position on Bartali vs. Coppi. 

78. Throwing up after a sprint. 

79. Chasing back on after a flat. 

80. Winning a town-sign sprint and remembering it forever. 

81. Explicating your training in exquisite detail on a blog, then realizing nobody cares. 

82. Watching the compressed CO2 from your only canister shoot off into the air instead of into the tube. 

83. Matching your bar tape to your tire’s sidewall– then realizing on your next ride that your bike looks like it’s been decorated by a blind pimp. 

84. Riding someplace you’ve always driven. 

85. Outsprinting a crazed dog. 

86. Summiting an H.C. climb. 

87. Waving at a cyclist coming the other way and being ignored. 

88. Getting annoyed by an uninvited wheel sucker. 

89. Getting so fast you’re confident enough to ride slow. 

90. Wondering if cycling matters too much. 

91. Not caring if it does. 

92. Surfing traffic on adrenaline and luck in one of the world’s 10 biggest cities. 

93. Sitting up, taking your hands off the bar on a downhill. 

94. At the PTA meeting, looking around at all the fat parents. 

95. Dropping someone half your age. 

96. Outclimbing someone half your size. 

97. Passing someone whose bike costs twice as much as yours. 

98. Looking inside the bottle you’ve been using all season, seeing mold. 

99. Dismissing what used to be your favorite cycling magazine because it keeps repeating topics. 

100. Reading The Rider. 

101. Coming home from Europe with a cobblestone in your luggage.

102. Finding out no one makes your favorite handlebar-bend anymore. 

103. Riding down a trail you couldn’t safely walk. 

104. Telling the joke, “God wishes he was Eddy Merckx.” 

105. Cheating a crosswind by joining an echelon. 

106. Feeling superstrong, then turning around for the ride back and realizing you had a tailwind. 

107. Pedaling the Brooklyn Bridge, toward Manhattan, at night. 

108. Being the person whose bike squeaks drive everyone nuts. 

109. Reading a rites of passage list and finding that your own favorite one is missing.

Ace Paint Century

A little over a week ago I participated in the Ace Paint Century charity ride with my Dad.  We chose to ride the 65 mile route.  Initially I was a little nervous because I have not been out on my bike much.  I think the farthest I have ridden this season was 25 miles and that was a few months ago.  I have been running regularly but cycling uses a different set of muscles and I wasn’t sure if my legs would carry me the full 65.  Worst case scenario I couldn’t make and I ride the SAG wagon back to the start…what do I have to lose?

I will say that it turned out to be a beautiful day.  The previous week back in Kansas City we were in the triple digits almost the entire time.  One day I think the heat index was almost 120 so a morning in the 70’s felt downright amazing.  We did not have any wind that day either, which was another big worry.

The route was great.  There was only a few miles on a busy road but being a Sunday morning it was pretty empty.  Throughout our ride volunteers drove by to check on the riders.  All the SAG stations were well supported and had the usual things you need, Gatorade, water, fruit, energy bars.  We made it in about 5 or so hours averaging 13 mph.  The fact that there were almost no hills and not wind helped greatly with this.

In the end I believe there were 166 riders that raised $61,767 for Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. It was a very enjoyable ride.

Stopped for a break at a park in Frankfort, IL

My Dad riding into the next SAG stop

Just and Idea about how flat it was

One of the SAG stops along the route.

Wakarusa: Fozzie Bear’s off road race?

One thing that I have found out about myself over the years is that if I don’t have a goal I become like the sloth.  Not like the cute ones you see on Go Diego Go! but the actual ones that barely leave their spot and move incredibly slow.  I never really liked going to the gym so instead I set up small goals a few months out to work towards.  For example I am hoping to run the 10k at the North Face Endurance Challenge.  It seems to be a little out of reach because my transition to the Vibram Five Fingers is going slower than I would wish.  Beyond that I have set a goal that may not be quite so little,  the Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge.  A friend and I will be participating as a two person team.  What possessed us to do this, slight insanity? A liking for pain?  Wanting a challenge? whatever the reason may be we will walk away from something unlike anything I have done so far.

The race is a combination of trail-running, mountain biking, and canoeing.  It starts with a 2.2 mile run then 17.2 mile mountain bike ride followed by a 4 mile canoe trip and finishing with a 4 mile run.  I am going to “officially” start my training for this.  Last year the top five male teams finished in about 3 hours.  I am not sure if that is achievable for us but it sounds like a good goal to work towards.  What is it that all the tough guys say, you know the ones that walk around in tight Ed Hardy shirts?  “Go hard or go home”?  How about “Go hard and finish sometime before the last person without dying along the way.”  I think that is more my style.

On a slightly different note in preparation for this I was able to find a decent used mountain bike.  I took it out to Landahl Park the other day and it rides wonderfully.

Mountain Biking Where There are No Mountains

I pursued my first real attempt at single track riding this week.  After thousands of miles of road riding over the past few years you would think I would be better prepared for a couple of miles on the trail….I guess not.  I learned a couple of things that day:

1.  My bike is a beast and by beast I mean almost as heavy as my car.  I am riding an old steel Nishiki that doesn’t really fit but it was free.

2.  Tick season has begun.  I found three of my small blood sucking friends hitching a ride on me.

3.  Singletrack is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting into the woods at Landahl park.  There was no one else out that day so there was no one to make fun of me when I couldn’t make it up some hills.

I now want to try and get on the trail more maybe with a better bike some day.

Tour De NICU

This Saturday is the Tour de NICU in Kansas City.  This is the first year for the ride that is raising money for March For Babies.  I am excited about this ride it sounds like it will be well organized and decent SAG (Support and Gear).  The rest stops are at local hospitals and you have the option of 20, 40, and 60 mile routes.  Check out their facebook page Tour de NICU, Register, and Ride.  The weather should be nice, summer is almost here.  Its time to ride!  Look for a review of Photos following the ride.