Archive for July, 2011

The 2011 RAGBRAI post…Safe For Work.

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

It started with the route announcement for RAGBRAI 2011. Couldn’t be simpler….Fly into OMA, ride a bit, fly out. It was so much more. So then I called around/surfed the interwebs and found Greenstreet Cycles. Their hospitality and warmth reminds me of my childhood in the great midwest….where people were once nice to each other.
So, after a busy thursday last week, Team Capt. Tom shows up at the shop with malt liquor, and Capt. Chris’ Travelers Check. We take 1/2 hr to fit a rack, panniers and Toms’ camping gear onto the bike for a test ride. Then I got my rig ready.
Rule #1 at the shop is to never change anything significant before your big trip…so we had to take our bikes out for a test ride….from bar to bar. The bikes handled well, and our livers were treated to a sampling of what was to come at The Ragbrai.

The next morning, we flew with the travel bikes and camping gear to Omaha. It was there that Greenstreet arranged a pickup for us, facilitated the assembly of our bicycles, allowed us to store our bags at the shop…and even arranged a place to shower for us. Talk about over the top effort! Here is a picture of the shop.

So, bikes being built, we headed off to a bar in Omaha, where they have real beer on tap.

After a few cool ones, and an hour of Tom calling our lovely barmaid by the wrong name, it was time to head back to Greenstreet to take the crew out for a bite to eat.

After a delicious meal, we retired to a wonderful air conditioned home, where I observed the finest collection of vintage frames from my early days in the bike industry I have ever seen…bar none.

Saturday morning found us feeling fine, so we all headed out for a wonderful greasy spoon breakfast.

It was a hot one on Saturday, and we spent a little time riding around the city and waiting for a break in the weather to head to the start city of Glenwood. Creighton University is in Omaha, and I’ve always wanted to check it out a little, especially because it has a dental school. Beautiful campus, I must say.

So after a little urban experience, Tom and I decided to head out of town….not before some duck tacos at a bar.


It was neccessary to pick up some supplies to get us out of town…

As well as stopping at bars on the outskirts of town….just in case there were no bars between there and Iowa.

Once on track, it was necessary to get across the Missouri River to get to IA. The path chosen was the South Omaha bridge, seen here.

As you can see, there is quite a bit of flooding in Omaha. Flying in and out, entire farms are under water, and the flood level is the greatest I’ve ever seen anywhere.

As we ventured further into the country, off route, the bars got classier.

The beer was still cold, and the smiles….warm.

After sufficient fueling, we crossed into Iowa.

As we neared the overnight town, it became more evident that RAGBRAI was in the air…

Finally, with the heat index pushing 107, we rolled into Glenwood.

When on The Ragbrai, you know that you are nearing a town because the tallest thing around is their water tower.
We cruised into town and hit the Oasis bar, mainly because it had AC. We were able to hang with locals, and cycling friends alike.

In true midwest fashion, the tornado sirens went off at about 6pm. We hung in the bar while a huge thunderstorm rolled along just to the south of us. Tom took the time to discuss with one of the locals her evacuation plan in the event of severe weather.

After the “all clear” we paid our tab and promptly found Belvis and Steve – who guided us to our overnight camping spot.

Some time during the night, the Roses arrived, and in the light of the morning we exchanged hellos and hugs.

It was then time to hit the road.

And by hit the road, I mean destroy every inch of it.

It was a beautiful day, but hot. Hot and muggy. So we stopped a lot…in this case, for less than ideal coffee.

Then it was back on the road.

A pre-lunch pork chop can be had at Mr. Porkchop.

Our half-way city for our on-route day was Carson, IA.

They had bands, food and beer gardens.

After a relaxing afternoon in Carson, Tom and I decided to backtrack to Silver City for the evening. We said our goodbye’s to our crew, and took off west into the blazing sunshine. Once in Silver City, we commandeered Austins on the Trail, where we quietly closed it down to be in the AC as long as possible. They were kind enough to feed us, water us, and allow us to stay till midnight, when we had to retreat to the local city park for accommodations.


The Trail is the Wabash Trace Trail, a nationally known gravel trail….it got us back to Omaha in the morning.


You’ll see many things on the Trace…

We stopped in Mineola at the bar that does the taco race…a race on the trail from Omaha to Mineola.

The coffee was excellent.

Then it was back on the trail.

Eventually we made it back to Omaha, where we had lunch at the Radial once again and noticed that Omaha is rather impressive in its cycling laws…

Then back to Greenstreet, aka RAGBRAI HQ, for bike packing, our goodbyes, and a ride to the airport.

RAGBRAI is the oldest, best and biggest bike tour in the US. Its a blast if you are on course, off course, a day late, a dollar short, etc. Its fun to dirty bag it, but AC is quite refreshing after you’ve been in your chamois all day. Ragbrai brings people together, your friends – or people who will soon be your friends. You have everything from family fun to nakedness….just not at the same time. I’ve said it before and its still true. RAGBRAI is the best cycling event I’ve ever done. Some of my favorite people in the cycling community do it…and you never know exactly who, or what you’ll find on the backroads of Iowa.

The RAGBRAI nears.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

And with it, time seems to vanish. I should be watching the tour….but I’ve been seating crowns and getting bikes built. Its nice, people at the shop ask if I’ve been following the tour on VS. They do a great job…I have been “teased” a little about not following the tour on some European feed. For fucks sake, I can’t even figure out I tunes? Read this from Eben.
Like anything else in cycling–bicycle choice, wardrobe, body hair “curation,” and so forth–watching the Tour de France is not a simple matter. Rather, the manner in which you follow the race is a profound statement about your sophistication as a cyclist and fan. For example, if you want to put yourself forth as a true connoisseur, you’re not supposed to watch the Tour on Versus. Instead, you’re supposed to say stuff like this in a world-weary fashion:
“Ugh, Phil and Paul are so insipid.”
“Too many commercials.”
“You know, those vivid HD pictures actually distort the color of the yellow jersey. In real life it has much more of a ‘dehydrated urine’ tone.”
And so forth.
So what’s the acceptable way to follow the Tour in America if you’re a savvy cycling fan? Well, on obscure European Internet feeds, of course. Tell people you’re watching the Tour on Versus and you’re a dork; tell them you’re following a pirated feed of a Belgian cable public access channel in which a 87 year-old retired kermesse racer sits in front of a black-and-white TV in a pub and and gives inebriated commentary entirely in Flemish and you’re an expert.
Also, you get additional Tour expertise points for the length of the URL, and if you want the link to that Belgian feed here it is:

http://www.flem-tastica.be.LmJl&qesig=xwpmUo58hj2o5zalkPzM6w&pkc%asstastic.biz

Trust me, you’ll find it riveting. Really, following the Tour this way is what the fixed-gear bicycle used to be before it became mainstream: a major inconvenience that serves as a stamp of authority.
But no matter how you choose follow the Tour, I think we can all agree that getting your cycling news from ESPN is like getting your wine at the gas station or your historical facts from Sarah Palin.

Thats funny.
Many people are already on their way to the RAGBRAI…..on bikes like this…

Me, I’ve been rehearsing with The Sons (of Lee Marvin).

I’ll bet Brose is ready….it was funny….today, one of the customers said…”hey, do you do RAGBRAI with at guy with the beard”…..I simply said…”yes”.

Don’t forget peoples, this is bat country.

And Dharma Wheels represents…

Hey, maybe Lance will be there again…

Maybe college girls?

You know, RAGBRAI is the only place other than the theater, that I enjoy seeing choreographed dancing.

Mostly, I bet, it’ll be a lot of people from MN.

The Crusher in the Tushar

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I used to start the day with a pot of coffee….love the dark water. Too bad my GI doesn’t. Its usually tea now. This makes me feel better.

Awesome, maybe they’ll have one for decaf some day.

Quite the weekend. Mrs. Dr. Evil and I headed to Dharma Wheels South, where the shop now has new windows.

We met with a builder to discuss a few small projects that remain for the season….should be all set for an Afterbike grand opening. I’m sure everybody will be in a great mood to party after a week in Las Vegas.

The Crusher in the Tushar happened Saturday. My favorite quote on The Facebook was an angry participant who was pissed that the course was re-routed due to the 11000ft high fire road not being opened of debris. Burke’s response “talk to me after the race if you don’t feel adequately crushed and we’ll figure something out.” I don’t think there were any complaints once the race was done.
Dr. Jeff showed up with his game face on.

Julian as well.

ChrisP and Tim…

And, of course, Me.

Part of the fun of the Crusher was deciding what bike to ride?
The top dogs all had 29ers….I think a full suspension model would have been the way to go for speed – especially since the course was re-routed. Being a rockstar, I showed up with my custom IF touring bike, complete with 35C tires, handlebar bag and kickstand. Chris Fox teased me a little about not removing the rear rack….its part of the bike…
So we climbed up Beaver canyon, and went from 6000 feet to 10,000 feet. I felt good. My joints were a little sore from the different riding position (I”m used to the Moots Vamoots for racing) but I kept up a slow and steady pace, never feeling terribly bad.

The scenery was amazing…

After reaching the high point, and the aid station just after, I got a bad feeling. The station people were switching sides of the road – meaning we’d have to return up this way again. As I approached the dirt road leading to Junction, the view was amazing – but so was the feeling that I’d have to climb up 10 miles from Circleville.

I said fuck it, and headed down. Near the bottom I passed riders returning upwards. Tinker Juarez gave me “Hi Jon” and smile that made us both want to just top right there and chat a bit. To be honest, I actually had more to loose with every second so I cut things short to continue…downhill. The decent to Junction was nice, then the wind to Circleville down 89 hit me. I bridged up to a fellow clydesdale rider who was excellent at wheelsharing. We both made it to Circleville where the road turned to gravel again and headed toward Junction. After the good road ended, we hopped on an ATV road which was difficult. It was there that I dropped my companion and marched on. It was hot, my heartrate got a little high (I had thoughts of my heat incident in Wanship) and I monitored with every pedal stroke. It was early afternoon and the sun was high in the sky. Finally, I made it to Junction where I started up the 6 mile climb back to the Tushars. That was the crusher. 55 miles in, and now another 6000 climb.
Yes, yes indeed. What would any winner do…..you march on. The top came faster than I anticipated and many riders were walking their bikes. I had plenty of gearing on the I.F. and I just marched on. Hit the last aid station and eventually made it to the uphill finish. 8 hrs in the saddle, 4 hrs slower than the winner, 2 hrs slower than the fast guys. Do you know what happens to a Garmin 800 when it hits 10,000 feet of total elevation gain….it looks like this ———.
Overall, great race/event. Next year, if possible, I’d love to see the following….the standard crusher as well as a shortened event (for the bigger riders). M.DR.E and I noticed that much like Leadville, this race was for the super fit. Nobody showed up to this thing cold…even me. Not that you ever should – but it was very obvious that EVERYBODY in the field was super fit, lightweight, and would get blown away in a strong wind. I’d love to see a clydesdale crusher – where the field starts with the skinny punks, and then goes to the top of the climb (next year, perhaps the 11,200 pass will be available), and then the ride ends at the ski resort….so that you only have the one massive climb and its easier on your psyche. Thanks again for all who helped and participated. Quite a Crusher.

With the close of the Crusher, I feel like my base miles are in. I’ve still got LOTOJA on my mind…I hope I didn’t bite off more than I can chew…

Now, on to RAGBRAI…Zeke is ready

Bear is ready…

The overnight towns are ready…

And you can bet your ass that Mr. Porkchop has been ready for months.

Tour de crash.

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

I think Cavendish got his lower teeth straightened. Good for you son.
He stuck this pose 3 years ago when he won in the same finish town.

Did you enjoy the dust storm in PHX. I sure did from 800 miles away.

The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011 from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

These people are hard…I’ll be thinking of them while I”m riding in my 70 degree mountains listening to podcasts today…then drinking beer at O shucks.

Danakil Diaries – Trailer 1 from Zenga Bros on Vimeo.

Check out the beautiful smile at 1:52….thats how it is when you don’t know what a soda pop or candy bar is.
OH, by the way, happy Caturday.

So celebrate with your kids…

Take care of business…

Fuck around on the computer…

Watch the tour…

Drink some beer…

Read the Bible…

Or, make something really, really useful.

In closing, I must say I”m shocked at how many responses one little post on The Facebook about The Ragbrai gets me. I assume all 35 of my blog followers commented on the awesomeness of the ragbrai adventure. Hey, big thanks to Greenstreet Cyclery in Omaha. Those guys are putting me up before RAGBRAI. I really can’t say how excited I am for the trip. Wouldn’t you be as well if you saw people like this…

Happy 4th.

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Happy 4th everybody. I”ll have more to post when I’m done riding.

4th of July Message From Hipster Shore – watch more funny videos