Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dark 100 Reconnaissance

The Dark 100 Miles of Nowhere is only three days from now!  Please consider donating to the worthy cause to which I'm dedicating my ride:  Camp Kesem via Livestrong.  Camp Kesem is a place for kids, whose world has been adversely rocked by a parent's cancer, to have a week of "normal kid fun" away from the stresses brought on by a parent's cancer battle.

Once again, you can Donate Here.  Please?

Reconnaissance for The Dark 100, a 100 Miles of Nowhere Ride

If you are completely in the dark about what this is, visit HERE and HERE for some background on the ride.  Can I offer you enlightenment about darkness?  I think that's reaching more than even I normally do.

Last weekend I finished the job my brother, Del, and I started last fall, that of scouting the route for The Dark 100.  It would be a shame, plus an embarrassment, to drag several other riders with us for a 100 mile ride IN THE DARK and in rural isolation, only to discover there were issues with the route.  You know, like trail closures or washed out bridges:
Seriously, this could happen, especially this year.  It's been a little wet in Minnesota. Oh THIS picture?  Completely unrelated.  Another trail, another year.  Cheap trick, huh?

Happily, I can report that all is well with the trails we intend to ride.  One area had clearly been under water recently, but sustained no damage:
The Mississippi is raging with spring run-off, yet we are not afraid.  THIS picture really was taken along our route, just 2 days ago.  Implying that the trail is somewhere under the raging waters was another cheap trick.  Please know that I feel quite bad about such subterfuge.


The reconnaissance rides have been a blast!  So I made a little movie about it.  Not to worry, it is only the length of one song.

I'm so excited to share my first Vimeo creation:  The Dark 100 2013 Reconnaissance wherein I show a little bit about our route... but not in darkness. What?  Do you think I'm nuts?  The scouting missions were done during daylight hours, some last fall with Del, and some this last weekend as a solo mission.

The Video doesn't explain the whole thing, but it captures the feel of being on these beautiful trails.  Please remember that this is my first Video production and it is highly amateur!  The very best part of the video is the music, Brother Lee by Citizen Cope, which is a song I've wanted to use for a cycling video since the first time I heard it.  It's a perfect riding song and I have it on several playlists.

Minnesota Has The Best Trails!

It doesn't matter if it's been proven, I know it to be true.  We will be riding portions of three trails, all connected, and here are links to information about the trails we'll ride:

Wobegon Trail
Central Lakes Trail
Soo Line West

So what now?

Visit Camp Kesem via Livestrong and donate to a great cause for kids.  By the way,


And watch my video on Vimeo: The Dark 100 2013 Reconnaissance


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Dark 100 and The F-Man

Darkness Approaches!!

The Dark 100 is only 13 days off and I’m a little worried about my fitness level.  T-shirts, prizes, route and primary logistics are largely in place (lies, all lies), but this business of being physically prepared is entirely different. 

Actually, the only thing that is really up and running is my Fund Raising Page,  and that just happened today.   Best not to rush these things.  Having said that, I encourage you to hurry on over and donate to the Fabulous Cause of sending kids, whose parents have or had cancer, to a fun filled week of camp where they can just be kids.  Man!  That was an awkward sentence.  I hope you understood it.

The Dark 100 is not primarily about raising funds for a good cause, it’s about doing something fun and unusual.  Because of this, I want to be clear that the fund raising piece is completely separate.  All donated funds go to the cause; none go to supporting the ride itself.  As far as I know, I’m the only one in the group trying to squeeze people for donations.  Let’s hope we don’t need to find out what I mean by “squeezing”.

Is a carrot better than a stick?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Perhaps I should back off with the threats and offer a carrot.  How about a fabulous prize, chosen by me, to be awarded to one lucky donor?  Better?  I thought so too.

There’s an important phrase in the above paragraph:  “chosen by me”.  I have a pretty good idea what it’ll be, but that’s as far as it goes.  I can tell you that it will be bicycling related, but not in a way that forces you to actually ride a bike to enjoy it.  No, it’s not going to be one of my retired leaky water bottles.  Unless you are Del.  Then it will, indeed, be a used water bottle.

Here’s how you can win this magical mystery prize:  For each $5 that you donate HERE, your name will be entered once into the drawing for the prize.  If gob-jillions of dollars are raised, I’ll make sure there is more than one prize.

Click HEREHERE, or HERE to visit my fundraising page and learn more about Camp Kesem. 

The drawing will be held on Sunday, June 23, 2013.

Stay tuned to this blog for more information about prizes, ride preparation and training!


Contrary to what I’ve implied, some of us have actually been trying to train a bit for The Dark 100.   Here is our best adventure so far, a tradition in the way The Dark 100 hopes to be:

The Third Annual Ferrous-man!

For years, we’ve ridden the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride (MIBR), usually held in late April.  The ride is huge (~4700 this year) and it’s a great way to kick off the cycling season.  We’ve ridden on April Saturdays that are so bright and sunny that one gets a world class sunburn, we’ve ridden in snowstorms and freezing, driving rain.  It’s always been fun, except when the weather is so bad that it’s not fun.  On the other hand, parking at the start/finish has always been not fun. 

Three years ago, a few of us came up with the idea of an alternative, small group ride on or about the same day, with a similar amount of suffering but with better parking, in Warren’s driveway.   Honesty time!  I was not actually one of the few to think up the ride.  Maybe I should have said  “a few of them”, but that sounded weird.

Every ride needs a moniker, so they came up with “Ferrous-Man”, because they are a witty bunch of nerdy bikers.  Recently, Chris shortened it to “F-Man”, and we all embraced the truncation for the obvious reason.

This year, The F-Man was held a week after the Ironman in conditions that were substantially less ride-friendly than the MIBR enjoyed.  In all fairness to the MIBR, it was long overdue for one of those warm sunny Saturdays.  A few days later, a storm came through that dropped anywhere from a few inches to two feet of snow on southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin.  The storm was so significant that they gave it a name:  Achilles.  I’d have named it Attila or Adolf, because a snowfall this meaningful in early May is nothing short of diabolical.

By the time the four of us rode on May 4, the roads were clear and the icy rainstorms had moved in all around us.  The clouds held their moisture all during our ride and we merely contended with cold (for May), something we all know well. 

Dress in layers, dress in layers, dress in layers!  The problem with all those layers is that there is a certain amount of roadside un-layering.

On this ride, I was testing out the GoPro Hero 3 camera that Paul gave me for Christmas.  I’ve been mounting this little camera on my handlebars for several rides, gradually learning complicated things like the difference between “on” and “off”.  My hope is to get enough experience that I’ll make good use of the camera for portions of The Dark 100.  This is what I learned by using the GoPro on a group ride for the first time:

·      First, I’ve observed that I talk too much on the bike.  Between the talking and the wind/road noise I now understand why cycling videos usually feature music rather than real-time sound.

·      Second, review of the video showed that I was looking ahead at neon yellow jackets… all day.   This means I was wheel sucking… all day.  There was only a little footage of the open horizon with me “pulling” and I was only allowed to pull because I was riding with gentlemen… albeit gentlemen who were OK with belching, farting, peeing and disrobing to some extent in my presence, but nice guys, nonetheless. 

·      Third, though I’ve known it since I’ve thought I was a distance cyclist, I suck at climbing hills.  It’s not even that I dislike it… I actually appreciate the challenge both mentally and physically.  I just suck at it.  I drop off the back of the pack the moment the grade exceeds 6%, or maybe even 3%.  It happened so many times in the course of 70 miles that, when Chris was hanging back with me one time, I all but accused him of patronizing me when he said he was also struggling.  Turns out he had a flat tire.  Really.

More participant bios:

·      Chris is the Jerry Seinfeld of the group.  He delivers his wit in a deadpan manner and he even looks a bit like Jerry.  Chris is also our best hope for a spot on Jeapordy! as he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.  The fact that he’s a strong, tireless rider even on flat tires, well that’s just a bonus.

·      Laurie is Del’s inexplicably long-suffering wife and probably the main reason Del’s sisters haven’t disowned him.  She’s also Chris’s even longer suffering cousin.  Laurie will be our sag driver extraordinaire, which is not to say she’s any saggier than the rest of us.*  It’s just that she’s really good at keeping track of all the little ducks on a long course.  She’s also the best I’ve ever met at the question of The Fox, The Corn, and The Chicken and how to get them safely across the river without anything being devoured, drowned or otherwise harmed.  In her version of the riddle, it’s The Minivan, The Toddler and the Tandem.  All that said, the main reason she’ll be driving sag for us is that she’s willing.  Superior logic is not always applied to her decisions.

·      Jeff is just a guy trying to have a good time without getting a concussion.  We are hoping he will beta test this Airbag Helmet .  He may be the most patient, non-judging guy I know, which explains why he’s Del’s friend.

·      David is the only professional involved in this adventure.  He joins us as videographer and he genuinely knows what he’s doing.  The fact that he’s my son is seldom held against him because people just plain like him.

*Mandatory bike blog sag-driver double entendre