Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moving and the Rok

It has been a while since I visited my site here in on the interweb. I assure you though, this is for good reason. Since Moab I have put in some good long weeks on the bike and moved my family to boot! Yep, we moved from Savage to Prior Lake. So far we are really happy with the move and starting fresh w/ new construction has been nice. We are now on the south end of Prior Lake on a little lake called Lake Crystal. Jen has been posting plenty of inside pics on The Facebook, so I will just show this one of the outside. The driveway and sod should be here soon...
Our view from them master of the selling points for me was .7 acres on a lake w/ beautiful sunrises over the lake.
The other selling point for me was a 1900 sqft unfinished basement, a mancave and a half! I can actually ride my bikes and test things like suspension damping down there (in the part not pictured)...

Next, I could no longer ignore the gravel road ride/race craze, so I signed up for the Ragnarok 105 this year. I think Ragnarok and Almonzo are the two queen gravel road races. Anyway Ragnarok was supposed to be 105 miles of 95%+ gravel. These are a far different animal than mtbk riding or racing w/ bike handling being a non-factor and this thing called "tactics" coming in to play for those near the front.

As far as this year's event goes, the front group got the 95%+ of grave part right...we missed a little on the 105. You see, they give you directions at the start and then every 40 miles. It is up to the riders to navigate. This is easy if you are following, but harder if you are in the front. The lead group and many of the other riders took a 6.5 mile detour at about mile 10, which made people pedal harder. About 5 of us were together when we were the first to hit the first checkpoint together. We took our time going to the bathroom and refilling water so a few people joined us again. After we got going, every hill would shrink the group to 3 guys, but then we would have to stop on the downhill to make sure we didn't miss another turn. Finally at some point, Drew Wilson, Brandon Krawczyk, and I got our act together with directions and started planning ahead. Even with our planning, we still took another wrong turn adding more unnecessary miles (not sure how many)! Somehow we were still in the lead after correcting our mistake and were able to basically soft pedaled the last 20 miles with a hard ride up the last climb. Brandon followed my wheel and then nipped me at the line...I am told that these are called tactics.
Pic of the last climb...
We ended with 118 miles and 18mph average despite what the Rok website says (it's not their fault we can read directions!). We could have easily gone faster than 18mph avg with lots of soft pedaling at various times, but it was nice to chat w/ the guys and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL scenery. I think my favorite parts were all the minimum maintenance roads.

Having finished I understand why people like these gravel events. They are kind of a race in that some guys at the front ride faster (yet as I mentioned not super fast and lots of friendly riding), but they are much more friendly with 90%+ of the people seemingly just there for the ride. I think these events can be best described as gravel "Grand Fondos" (if you are familiar w/ the similar road ride craze going on).
My ride went fine, but my legs were never good. That said I never was under pressure to hang on. I pretty much trained through this one, and my last bike rest period was spent moving, so I am very much looking forward to a rest week this week!
Equipment wise, the Trek Cronus CX performed flawlessly and is a ridiculously awesome bike.... 17 lbs out of the box, super stiff yet vertically compliant. If you want a road bike but don't race, buy the Cronus CX instead and explore gravel too. It will server you very well in both applications with just a tire swap.

Finally, Thank you SO MUCH to the Ragnarok organizers and volunteers. That is one fantastic event you have going. We, the riders, appreciate all that you do!

Next up is the Sandwich 50 in Rochester a couple weeks from now. I am pumped to ride 50 miles of the tight and twisties again this year.