Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year end Ramblings of a bike riding, gimped up, Norseman

Well 2008 is drawing to a close. What, if anything, can I remember about 2008? Maybe if I go month by month, I can come up with something.

January - Great month. My daughter was born on the 8th. After 8 years of trying to have a baby through various medical procedures and failed adoptions, we finally experienced the miracle of life. The greatest day of my life. I'll never forget the feeling. Less than a week later, my wife has emergency surgery because of complications with the birth. Things didn't look good for a while. One of the worst days of my life. I'll never forget the feeling.

February - Snow, snow and more snow. One of the snowiest winters in recent memory. Man did my shoulders hurt.

March - Bought my wife her Trek WSD 3500. Rode it home in the snow.

April - First ride of the season with Jonny K and Plopper. 40 degree temps. 25 MPH winds. Let Jonny K introduce me to the world of blogging (thanks Jonny).

May - Kind of a blur. Watched allot of Brewer baseball. My wife had her 1st (and may I add long awaited and well deserved Mother's Day).

June - Had my 1st Father's Day. Went to a reenactment of an 1860's baseball game. Now that was cool (going again this year). Horrible flooding! I literally saw people going past my house in canoes. FDLWI was declared a disaster area. Only by the grace of God did I not have ANY flood damage. All my neighbors did.

July - Again, kind of a blur.

August - Jonny K talks me into doing the Earth Ride in September. I start actually training to do the 25 mile ride. I love it. Start jogging in the mornings too. Really started to get into this blogging thing.

September - Do the Earth Ride with energy left over. See the Big Cat for the first time in years and am glad to see someone else I know with a passion for riding.

October - Ride the Wisconsin Offroad Series Wigwam MTB Challenge. First race I've ever done. realize I need work. Decide to do a bike build.

November - continued with training rides until the snow fell.

December - one word...ankle.

So what kind of fun are we going to have next year?

I want to ride more. My goal is 650 actual miles on a real bike (not including stationary and cross training). I want to do more charity rides. I want to do more MTB races and endurance challenges. I need to become more physically fit.

I want to read more and watch T.V. less (except for baseball - although I can listen to that on the radio).

I want to simplify my life and appreciate what I have more.

I want to continue blogging with all of my readers and I hope to continue to build this "Trail Dog Network" as I think of it. This blogging can be a pretty cool thing.

Had enough rambling? Okay. Happy New Year to everyone! May it bring you peace, joy, health, prosperity, and great trail conditions.



Monday, December 22, 2008

I think my ankle is "screwed up"

As promised, here is the ultra sound of my surgically repaired ankle. One plate and seven screws. Went to the Doc again today. Incision looks good. He's still going to make me sit on my arse for another week. Then another 4 weeks until I can start walking without crutches. Puts a damper on my daughters first Christmas, but at least it's me and not her with the injury. It's going to be slow going in my life for awhile. Don't worry Big Cat, I'm still planning on 50 for Earth Ride. Guess I'll just need to train harder. Been starting to read Jill Homer's book, "Ghost Trails". Not a bad read so far, I'm 5 chapters in maybe. I've been trying to actually NOT read too much of it as it makes me even more anxious to get up and move.

That's it for now I guess. I hope everyone has a great Christmas. Especially to Jonny K, Big Cat, and Northwoodsguy and their families. Talk at you all soon.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm back!

Hey everyone. Thanks for all your warm wishes on the last post. I have made it through the surgery and the 5 days of R&R (which my wife strictly enforced). It is now day 6 and let the rehab begin. I'll get into more detail in my next post (I even have an ultra sound that the doc gave to me so I can show everyone my "implant") Just wanted to let you guys know I'm alive. More to come soon.



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Under the Knife!

That's what I get for being a good father and trying to prevent my daughter from getting hurt. (I wouldn't change it for anything cause she didn't get hurt). My cautious optimism has change to a "you gotta be sh*tt%ng me" moment.

My orthopedic doctor has advised me that he has the cure for my broken ankle....cold steel. That's right friends, the Trail Dog will now be the Bionic Trail Dog for '09. Fresh out of the lab with a titanium plated lateral malleolous (aren't you impressed that I know that?). I don't know if it's really titanium, but it sounds so cool. Right now, I'm just looking for anything good about having ankle surgery. Maybe I'll be able to play hockey again? Or have a 20 ft. vertical (look out LeBron)? Nah, I'll just be happy to walk without crutches, or have to rely on someone to put my pants on for me(TMI).

At any rate, say a quick prayer to the Big Guy for the Trail Dog tomorrow around Noon CST. I'll see you on the flip side (provided I don't take too many "mind expanding" drugs).



Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Officially Over

I'm calling 2008. Game over. Yesterday I fell in a parking lot and broke my ankle. I was carrying my daughter, and luckily I compensated in mid fall so she would land on top of me. Unfortunately, the same compensation that saved her from injury, fractured my ankle. I'm on the shelf for at LEAST 2-3 weeks (ER doc said 4-6 but I'm optomistic). I see an orthopedic specialist on Thursday to find out when I can start moving again without crutches.

If anyone has any good training ideas for a guy with one bad wheel that can only really train one leg and upper body, let me know. You know, you never really realize how much you need all you faculties until you loose the use of one. Let the rehab begin. Hopefully the Trail Dog will be back better than ever for 2009.



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Does shoveling count as crosstraining?

So I didn't get my usual cardio in on Monday morning due to the snow. I shoveled instead. This made me think. Does shoveling really count as a workout? I mean when I'm done, I'm breathing heavy, just like biking or running. Later that day, my shoulders and arm tend to get a little sore, just like strength training.

How much shoveling does one have to do, to equal a morning run or ride? How many calories does 30 minutes or shoveling burn? I did some research.

According to the federal government (surgeon general to be exact), just 15 minutes of shoveling snow counts as "moderate" exercise. So their theory is that 30 minutes of shoveling snow would fit into the "30 minutes - 3 times a week" exercise plan. They also suggest that you warm up and stretch before doing any shoveling. Shoveling can be compared to bent over rows as far as strength training is concerned. Just remember, the federal governments standards also say that Michael Jordan is overweight.

On a side note, Crazy Joe's Cane Creek Headset finally showed up from China (took about a week longer than anticipated). Kinda neat to se a customs sticker in Chinese. Sorry if me buying it from China offends anyone, but I believe in free trade (and cheap prices).



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Decline of Western Civilization Part III - The Lard A$# Years

For those of you that remember the Heavy Metal movement of the 80's (and I mean METAL - not Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, but metal - Priest, Maiden, Slayer, W.A.S.P.), you'll remember a film made by Penelope Spherris called The Decline of Western Civilization Part II - The Metal years. Basically a documentary about the excess of the 80's and how metal played into it and sometimes caused it, and was this going to be the downfall of our country.

As we all know, it wasn't the end of society as we know it (although looking back on some of the stupid sh^* that people did - myself included - I wonder how some are still alive).

Now this morning, as I was out running, I noticed something, that while really struck me as more "wow, some people are really lazy" than "I'm pissed at whoever lives here". We had 3-4 inches of snow in good old FDLWI on Monday. My wife, bless her soul, went out and shoveled our drive and both side walks (as we live on a corner), so I wouldn't have to when I got home. When it boils down to it she actually owes me from all the shoveling that I did last year when we got well over 100 inches of snow for the season. She used some excuse about being pregnant so she could shovel. What a bum!!!! (Just kidding mama).

Anyway, so I'm running along and I get to some areas of sidewalk that haven't been shoveled. Today is Wednesday. I know some runners get really pissed when people don't shovel. I've letters to the editor in the local paper that express this anger. Personally, I don't think it's any reason to get angry. It is a reason,however, to revisit my theories that the laziness and dumbing down of the country as a whole could be a reason for a great number of problems that this society has today. The one thing I noticed that really got me going again was that fact that one person, who was so lazy but yet still so concerned about their sidewalk being clean, went out and actually sprinkled road salt on 3-4 inches of snow in a vain attempt to completed rid their little section of the city of snow. They didn't shovel and then salt to stop a ice buildup. They JUST SPRINKLED SALT. Wow.

When you make the choice to live in a city, there are certain social codes of conduct - also known as LAWS - that one must follow to become a productive part of society.

Example #1: Dogs should be kept on leashes. I've seen dogs chase cars, people, other dogs, cats, rabbits, all because their owners don't care enough about not only others but they don't care enough about the dog itself to leash it so it doesn't get hit by a car. In most cities this isn't just a courtesy, it's a law.
Example #2: When someone says "Hello" or "Good morning" to you, you reply with an actual response (acceptable responses would be "Hello" or "Good Morning"), not with an "ugh" or just a blank stare. This is called manners, and while most places on earth don't have laws to enforce manners, they probably should. This is a matter of either poor up bringing or just plain poor attitude.

Now I'm probably starting to sound old. "You damn kids get out of my yard" old. But honestly guys, I don't remember things being this bad 10-15-20 years ago. There just seems like there is no pride for community, no pride for family, no pride in the job that you do, and no pride for one's self. I know I'm going to do my best to instill those values in my daughter as she grows up. Sorry for ranting, but I think I was due.

Here's an idea. Let's end this post on a positive note and list some things we're thankful for. I'll start. I'm thankful for my loving wife and everything she does that I don't appreciate the other 364 days of the year. I'm thankful for my daughter who is truly a miracle in every sense of the word (if you guys don't know the story, ask and I'll post it sometime). I'm thankful for having a job, a house, and food on the table, because I know allot of people don't have any of those things these days. I'm thankful for the support of friends and family. I'm thankful for you - my readers - who actually visit this site to read my stupid posts about a fat guy and his bike.

Who's next? Let's just go around the table. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Joe Update

Hope this finds everyone happy and healthy. I got three more pieces to the puzzle that is Crazy Joe on friday at the end of business.

I purchased a bontrager stem, handlebar, & seatpost for a smokin' hot deal. All three for $21.50. Can't go wrong there. Here's the update of where I stand so far as costs go.

“Crazy” Joe’s Cost Comparison

Item/MSRP/Paid – (Shipping)

Specialized “Rockhopper” 21” Frame/$120.00/$25.00 – ($25.00)
Suntour XCR Front Suspension Fork/$160.00/$52.00 – ($14.00)
2008 Cane Creek S8 Headset 1-1/8"/$70.00/$26.00 – ($8.00)
Bontrager Race Modified 620 Handlebar/$30.00
Bontrager Race Handlebar Stem/$50.00
Bontrager Sport Seat Post/$20.00/$21.50 – ($10.00)

$450.00/$124.50 – ($57.00)

Next step is to build the repair stand, update the Trail Dog Tools blog, and start puting this front end together. I did my first stationary ride in a LONG time over the weekend. Put 9 miles on before the "fam" woke up. Better than nothing I guess, especially seeing we got 3" of snow overnight here in FDLWI.
Nothing else to report for now. I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seasons End

With the sudden winter weather of yesterday afternoon, it pains me to admit to myself that the 2008 biking season is over. The fact that this mornings temperature was 12 degrees is not enough to make me throw in the towel. The fact that the roads were still covered with snow in some areas this morning is noit enough to make me throw in the towel. Alas, it is the very thing which is used to make it safer for all of mankind in a situation like this, which forces me to hang the Maestro upside down on his perch in the garage like a hibernating creature. Yes, salt my friends...salt.

Road salt. Melter of snow and ice. Purveyor of safe roads and sidewalks. Eater of bicycle frames! I've seen to many pot mark ridden frames (mostly motorcycles) to allow any of my two wheeled friends to be exposed to the dangers of road salt.
What does this mean for the Trail Dog? It means that, as much as I've been fighting it for the last few weeks, I will be resigned to using goes...........indoor stationary. I know, I know, I know. All you guys have been telling me that there's nothing wrong with using the stationary bike in winter. Especially when you need to train like I do just so you don't explode from lack of activity. I'm not in a financial postition to purchase a "pugs" (Surly - Pugsley model) so I can ride in off road winter terrain (although a boy can dream can't he?). So I guess my only option is stationary and continue crosstraining (running).
Please note the new and inproved Trail Dog Ticker on the right hand column of this page. It will keep track of ALL miles (ridden or ran) separately and then totaled at the bottom. Probably more for me than for anyone else, but a good way to keep track none the less.
That's all for now from Wisconsin. Still trying to figure out another rider for the 12 hours of GEARS race in May and trying to plan out next years "Big" rides. Want to keep riding with Jonny, although his work schedule will dictate when he can come out and play. Also need to get with the Big Cat for some rides. I'm actually contemplating going to Austin, TX in October and riding 100 miles in the LiveStrong challenge either with Team Fat Cyclist or on my own. Need to get the logistics of that one figured out yet but I'll know for sure by next week. Maybe if some of my readers want to join me we can get Team Trail Dog together.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reasons & Comparisons

I remember when I first decided to do this bike build, Jonny K asking me, "why don't you just buy another (completed) bike?". My reply was, "when you build something up from scratch, you become more intimate with it, and almost create a relationship with it." That's how I approach the structures that I design as well as a good many other things in my life, so It would stand to reason that I approach my newest "addiction" (biking) the same way.

After I made this point to Jonny, I thought to myself "sh%t, what if he's right? I'm not made of money, but what if building this bike is actually going to cost MORE that just buying one. After I purchased that frame, I began to research what the next step was going to be. I was shocked to see that although I could buy all the parts I needed at very reasonable costs, I could blow my entire budget just getting the tools that I need to get the job done. I was rather dejected for a couple of days, but purchased the fork anyway.

I researched some of the tools online and thought, "I can't, and I won't pay that much for a tool that I may only use once!" I conferred with Scotty (some of you may remember him from my first ever post as Hill Killer) about some of these tools, and we both said, "hey, most of these things are so simple, somebody could just make the tool too!"

So it is after much thought that I decided to start another blog devoted to the tools that I make to help in the "budget build" of my bike. All of the tools on there will be tested on my own bikes, and I will provide the specifications so readers can purchase materials and build the tools themselves. (I'll also offer my services at for folks that don't want to make them).

So after all this thinking about whether or not I was doing the right thing, I thought I'd better prove to myself that I am following the right trail. Being the analytical person that I am, a cost break down and comparison was in order. I will update this as I get new parts. Note that I purchased a new Cane Creek headset as well as I figured the moving parts would be better off new if possible and it was a good price.

“Crazy” Joe’s Cost Comparison

Item /MSRP/ Paid – (Shipping)

Specialized “Rockhopper” 21” Frame/ $120.00/ $25.00 – ($25.00)
Suntour XCR Front Suspension Fork /$160.00/ $52.00 – ($14.00)
2008 Cane Creek S8 Headset 1-1/8" /$70.00/ $26.00 – ($8.00)

$350.00/ $103.00 – ($47.00)



Monday, November 10, 2008

Crazy Joe's Fork

Crazy Joe's fork showed up on Friday afternoon! Brand new Suntour XCR front suspension fork.

Here's the specs for all you bike geeks:

Travel-80 -100 mm
System-Coil spring
Lower-New magnesium monocoque
Design-Leading axle
Dustseal-Metal inserted type
Leg Color-Matt black, Metalic silver, white
Integrated HD-Semi-ID type / 44mm
Stanchion tube-STKM
Right Side-Coil spring
Left Side-Coil spring
Steerer tube-STKM
Lenght ( w / o thread )-255mm
Crown race diameter-30mm
Wheel size-26"
Brake-Disc (Post mount type: for 180mm rotor) & V-type
Preload adjuster-Yes
Note-Disc only type bottom case available
max. disc diameter-185mm

Only a few more parts to go to get the front end completed. The lower and upper head tube cups came with the frame, but I'm not sure if you can just buy the remaining pieces of the headset, or if I need to purchase a new one to get the rest of the components. At any rate, the headset needs to be installed along with the handle bar stem (which I need to get yet), and more than likely, a fair amount of spacers (the Maestro has a good number of rather large spacers and that height is perfect for my 6'-4" frame). I also need to set the "star nut" into the fork (or have somebody do it for me). If any one has any insight into assembly of this front end, or component recommendations feel free to jump in here. I'm new at this, so any ideas are welcomed.

I got a pretty cool plan to BUILD a repair stand rather than buy one. I figure with the going rate of a stand somewhere between $100-$200 (depending on brand and options), I can build one for $30-$40. Not a bad savings, which means I can put better components on Crazy Joe, and make some off road touring upgrades to the Maestro.

November has been a pretty horrid month as far as riding goes so far. Between some of the weather we've had (precipitation being the problem, cold weather doesn't bother me), and seasonal illness setting in on baby and mama (hasn't gotten me yet), I've only managed to squeak out 10 miles. I have been sticking to running during the week, and have added more distance to my morning jogs. I sure hope that I can get some more miles in on two wheels before the snow pack is here to stay and I'm resigned to the stationary for the majority of the winter.

What do you guys think about cold weather riding? Let's get some banter going here. Share some thoughts or stories or something to do with cold weather riding.



Friday, November 7, 2008

Introducing...the players

For all of you that voted, here are the two wheeled characters in my life, renamed to mirror their "Seinfeld" counterparts.

Uncle Leo (formerly known as "Murray" - I don't have a pic of the actual bike but here's the add from 1992).

Bob Cobb "The Maestro" (formerly known as Gary)

"Crazy" Joe Devola (I think I may even get "Sic semper tyrannis!" somewhere on the frame for those of you that are Seinfeld nuts like me).
So there you have it, the cast as it stands for now. Kind of a stupid little post, but it passes the time on a November morning with pending cold weather headed our way. Hope it gives everyone a little chuckle.

Monday, November 3, 2008

October Revisited

Another month has passed us all by and I figured I'd wax nostalgic for one of my favorite months in the year.

As far as training went for the month:

Cycling miles: 119
Running Miles: 18
Stationary Recumbent Miles: 0
Weight on October 1st: 276
Weight on November 1st: 276
Total weight loss since the "grand revelation" : 29 lbs.

At the beginning of the month I proved my dislike for meteorologists to myself once again. I also had my first cold weather ride in years (which just happened to be in a small deluge thanks to a meteorologist).

I did my first MTB "race" (even though I wasn't really competing with anyone but myself). I realized that I need to train harder and in more places than just paved trails and city streets. 25 miles around town doesn't mean much when you're staring down the barrel of 5 miles of single track.

I completed another trail in it's entirety. The Peebles Trail. That now makes the Peebles Trail, the Prairie Trail, and the west leg of the Mascoutin Valley Trail. Three more trails to go in the county and then I'll have to start looking elsewhere for new adventures.

The first piece of my winter project arrived. This is a new challenge for me to help me keep the cycling mindset through the winter months. I hope to have the rockhopper completed by May, so I can use it exclusively as my racing bike.

We said hello to the Big Cat and NorthwoodsGuy as followers to the blog, and hope to continue conversations and relationships with them. We also said goodbye to Jonny K as a person that I see on a daily basis, but hope to continue conversations and relationships with him.

Followers voted...and my two wheeled friends will be named after Seinfeld characters (more to come in another post).

Let's hope November is just as interesting!



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be My Frankenstein

It seems fitting that with Halloween tomorrow, I introduce you to my frankenstein.

Yes it's the Rockhopper. Arrived Tuesday evening at about 5:05 CST.

My assistant Igor has already secured the next piece to the puzzle. A brand new Suntour suspension what seemed to be a graveyard discount. I will continue to post pics when new pieces begin to emerge. Until then, I must return to my laboratory.

Happy All Hallows Eve,


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WORS '08 Season Movie

Hey all,

Here's a link to the WORS site with a movie high lighting the '08 season. Kinda cool to watch (it's about 15 minutes long though so make sure you've got some time).

Still waiting on the Rockhopper. FedEx tells me it has made it to Wisconsin though. Here's a good one. I e-mailed Specialized's online help page and asked them about a steerer column length for a 21" rockhopper frame. The response came back: " I would check with your local Specialized dealer. They'd be more than willing to help out." What kinda crap answer is that? Oh well, I'll just do it my damn self.

On a more serious note, those of you that read the Fat Cyclist know the struggles that he and family are going through with his wife's battle with cancer. Latest update is she's not doing so great, so let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Two Birds with One Stone

Those of you that read this regularly will probably remember my "I hate weathermen" post from a few weeks ago. Well the ride that I was trying to complete that morning, finally got completed yesterday morning. I completed the Prairie Trail (which I had done before), and the Peebles Trail (which I had only completed a part of thanks to the weather that day).

The Prairie Trail is a 7 mile paved trail that runs along Hwy 151 and skirts the outlying city of Fond du Lac. The only good thing to come out of the botched 151 by pass project is this trail. I run this one on a regular basis as part of a training ride for endurance races and rides, and just to get out as it is a nice trail for family rides as well.

The Peebles Trail is a 5.6 mile stretch of abandoned rail road bed that runs from Fond du Lac to St. Peter. Not a real long trail, but the challenge here being the ascent from the "bowl" of Fond du lac, up the Niagra Escarpment (yes Niagra, the same stretch of limestone cliffs the gives us Niagra Falls), into St. Peter. This time I finally made it. One small step for the Trail Dog, one giant leap for....well it's a giant leap for something anyway. The descent was well worth the pain of the ascent.

You can see by the trail maps that I've linked(if they work), that the Prairie and the Peebles cross right around Taycheedah. There is a section then where the Peebles breaks off and goes in to Fond du Lac to the west, while the Prairie continues south. This section of the Peebles is crushed limestone and a real nice jaunt through the woods.

The Rockhopper is enroute from Idaho. Currently somewhere between Spokane, WA and Wisconsin. I'm starting to get anxious. Everyone have a great weekend if you can help it. Get those bikes dirty and stay warm.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Racing frame is on it's way

I won the high bid on a frame on Saturday. Its' a Specialized Rockhopper. The pic from the seller doesn't show well on here, so when I get it, I'll take some neew pics and post them. So now I have the frame and the front and rear deraileurs. Looking at front suspension forks next. I plan on racing at least 2 WORS races and 1WEMS race next year. Hey Big Cat, what do you think about throwing some 29" wheels on that trike and forming a 4 man, 12 hour endurance team?

On a sad note, Jonny K has accepted a new position at a different employer. While I'm excited and happy for Jonny and his family, I can't help but be a little selfish and wish that he would stay here. After all, he was the person that got me back into cycling seriously, and I find it makes for a more pleasurable work environment with him around. All the best Jon.

Looks to be a miserable week weatherwise in the great state of Wisconsin. Hopefully by the weekend things will dry up a bit so I can get in the 33 miles I need to reach my season goal. I think I should be able to reach the 300 mile mark without any issue, as November and somtimes even December can prove to be bike worthy months. Until next time.



Friday, October 17, 2008

Boston Bike Film Festival

If you guys are interested, check out

I guess two short films about Peter Mulvey's "No Gasoline Tour" will be shown at the film fest. Peter is a great folk musician from Milwaukee that does a bike tour of Wisconsin for the past two years. Not sure if you can watch the films on the website, but I'll take the opportunity to plug Peter.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

I need practice / First snow of the season

WORS posted the results from the Wigwam MTB Challenge on their website. I need some major practice. They don't post first timer times, but the next class after that is Citizen and I would clearly be Citizen Clydesdale 34 & under. The fella that won that class did 10 miles in about 50 minutes. Now if this was on the road, I could pull off 10 miles in 50 minutes with a little more effort. My time for the Wigwam was 45 minutes for 5 miles. I clearly need to work on this. I'll be varying my training through the winter to do more short, fast rides, rather than all endurance. And maybe get in some single track as long as I can fit it in between hunting weekends. I don't feel a need to get shot by some idiot that cant tell the difference between the sound of a deer and the sound of a clydesdale (biker that is). It's better to just stay in the city on hunting weekends and do the short & fast rides.

On a lighter note, my friends in Nye, Montana got their first snow fall over the last weekend and have sent some pictures. Around 19" I belive the news said on Sunday. Winter's comming! These pics, while beautiful, are a grim reminder of last seasons snow fall in Wisconsin. Let's hope we can keep it a little more reasonable this winter. With that being said, enjoy the pics



Monday, October 13, 2008

Separation of Men and Boys

I now realize how much younger my body was 15 years ago. The Wigwam MTB Challenge really separated the men from the boys. Believe me, although I am 32 years of age, I was not only a "boy" when it came to this race, I was a "baby".

First off, let me appologize for having no pictures but I was much more concerned with staying alive and not "angrifying" any of the elite racers with my slow pace and lack of singletrack knowledge.

With that being said, everything started out pretty normal. Ascending a paved road to one of the higher points of the course. Then through a nice wide open off road area. "Take the best line", I kept telling myself. Back onto a paved parking lot. Wow, if this is as hard as it gets, I've got this thing licked.

We stopped and got the group back together. Don (the clinic leader and race director) told everyone that this was where the real singletrack started. Ok, I can handle that. Pedal, pedal, pedal, LOG! Whew, that was close. Ok I'm bleeding now. I think it's time to take this a little more seriously.

Listen to Don. He'll help everyone through this. Now we're entering Witches Hollow. Switchbacks...going down hill. Wasn't prepared for that, but at least I didn't fall off. A little muddy down here in the hollow. Slippery too. Whoa, stay on the trail not in the creek (yet).

Now it's time to go in the creek. Some people had enough sack to do it. I was not among them. Up hill out of the hollow. Through the mud. Not prepared for that. I walked my bike for the first time. Got out of the hollow.

Nice ride along the lower river. Pretty easy going (or I was just getting used to this offroad stuff). All of a sudden we stop. There's a group of people stopped, some from my group of first timers, some not. I asked some guy what we we're all waiting for. And he replied "to do the equalizer". I then looked straight ahead and realized that the part of the woods that I thought we surely wouldn't be stupid enough to ride through, was in fact where everyone was going. I tell you this, that hill was at a 60 degree angle if it was a foot tall. I made it 3/4 of the way up, and it felt tlike my bike was going to flip over backwards.

From there the group was back together, and we had a nice run back to the finish line. That 5 mile course was as taxing as doing 50 miles on the road. I am still rather sore as I right this some 40 hours later. Would I do it again? Hell yes!

Thanks to Don Edberg and everyone at WORS for making this fun and non-threatening for a 30 year old virgin (so to speak). Once some pics are posted of the race from yesterday, I'll try to provide a link to the WORS site.

Pedal through it


Thursday, October 9, 2008


The Wigwam Mountain Bike Challenge is this weekend in Sheboygan, WI. It's a fun weekend of racing activities. Check out for more info. Here's a map of the single track trail course that goes through Quarry and Evergreen parks.

I'm only going to do the racing clinic for extreme first timers to learn the basics of MTB racing. It's a 2 hour clinic to show folks the basics and then give a ride through of the course (which is highlighted on the map).

I must admit that I am feeling a little nervous. I haven't done any kind of singletrack riding in 15 years. Gary is a much better ride than "Murray" was (my bike 15 years ago). Imagine someone that you know either from TV or in real life named Murray. My stereotypical Murray would be an old Jewish fella bitching that his soup is too cold at some NYC deli. That's kind of how Murray rode. Old and stale. By the way, Murray still resides in my basement. A sort of rest home for old bikes.

The weather at least is now supposed to be nice. 76 degrees and sunny. But we all know how my experience with weathermen goes. My luck they'll change their stories at 2:30 when the clinic starts at 3:00.

So if I can get past my nerves and put on some kind of good showing on this trail (at least a good showing in my own mind), I think I'll probably register as a first time racer for next year's WORS series(I think I should still try to find some kind of sponsor). If I do register, then I think I'll need to buy (or build) a bike specific to racing, and use Gary for road and joy rides. Any thoughts as to racing bikes from anyone is appreciated.

I'll update again after the weekend and let everyone know if that section of the trail that is noted as "Puker Factor", actually forced me into full cookie heave.

Pedal Through It


Monday, October 6, 2008

WOW, That's Cold!

Alright, I finally got to test my cold weather gear in dry weather. It consists of cold weather compression pants, a long sleeve compression shirt, shorts over the pants, a fleece 1/4 zip over the shirt, sock, shoes, a stocking cap, and my usual riding gloves(Lizard Skin Kimono (Cheap plug - still looking for a sponsor)).

Saturday - 3:57 A.M./31 Degrees
I planned on getting in my 20 loop around the city. Sure seems cold. About 20 minutes into it, the blood started flowing and I was pretty comfortable. About 40 minutes into it, my toes started to tingle. At 1 hour my toes were numb. I had reached a decision point. If I keep going on the loop here, I will need to finish the full 20 miles. If I divert, and turn off, I'll get less than 20 in but I should be able to keep my toes. I decided to divert. Finished the day with 16 miles. Guess who's going to get some warmer socks?

Sunday - 3:57 A.M./35 Degrees
I knew that today would only be a 10 miler. I picked up some Columbia Cold Weather Socks(another cheap plug). These socks are worht every penny of the $10 for two pair. I was completely comfortable for the whole 10. Seasons total now up to 232. Not alot, but quite the feat for a guy that only had 37 in at the August mid-point. I hope to crack 300 miles before the snow flies. Should be "do-able". If I get in more that that, even better.

I've decided that at the first post of every month, I would share some stats with you. Not just stats on my month of riding, but stats on my "life change". I know not everyone wants to hear about the fat boy's 2 lb weight loss, but I feel it necessary to convey my progress, as this is a huge change in lifestyle. As of the first of October, I weighed in at 276 lbs. A 9 lb loss since the beginning of August, and a 29 lb loss since January '07. My heaviest weight was 305 lbs. I fluctuated a bit through '08 as I finally quit smoking as well. Amazing what a 7 lb little pesron can do to you. I'll keep you all updated through this journey.

Pedal through it


Friday, October 3, 2008

I HATE Weathermen

WANTED: Patrick Powell (I think this may be an alias) AKA, Forest Gump. For not knowing his arse from a hole in the ground and still being gainfully compensated for doing as such. If you see this man do not turn over to the authorities. Please beat him unmerciful and leave him lying in a puddle of his own blood and feces.
"We'll see no rain until tomorrow afternoon." Tomorrow actually being yesterday. This fool says this with a straight face. So like a lemming I believe him and go forward with my plan to take a half day off and get some good saddle time in in the morning.
I wake up, and while it is a touch on the cold side, it is dry. Good day to test out my new cold weather gear. About a 1/2 hour into my ride, i begin to feel some slight sprinkles. Nothing major, and I can still see the sun coming up, so I proceed. 10 minutes later the sprinkles become a bit harder. I keep going.
I begin a new section of trail that I have not had the nerve to try before. It's part of the Peebles trail from Fond du Lac to St. Peter. My hesitation with this bad boy has been the acsent from the "bowl" that is the city of Fond du Lac up the Niagra Escarpment. Not biking the Rockies by any stretch of the immagination, but still more than what I'm used to.
As I begin the ascent, the rain now is coming harder, and whilst my cold weather gear worked great in the colder temps (40 degrees or so) and the wind (10-15 mph), the rain was something I hadn't prepard for thatnks to the focus of my rage that I introduced earlier. I'm almost there I can see the top(I think).
It's too much. I've been broken by mother nature. The wetness has infiltrated my wind jacket. I trun around and prepare for descent. Descent. Typically a fun time. A reward after a long and diffcult ascent. Not today. Rain peppering my face. Back splash from my rear tire. All of these things added to my misery.
I made the trip back to the house with my tail between my legs. People on their way to work and school, staring at me like I was some kind of circus freak, probably thinking to themselves, "DUH! Why didn't that idiot watch the weather?" (Thanks Powell).
As I came in the door, my wife looked at me and said, "You know this is like the only place in the state that's getting any rain." (Thanks Powell).
I only got in 15 miles. I proceeded to have some breakfast, and soak my frozen self in a hot tub. If there is any one out there inclined to purchase me a Christmas present, and weather radio would be a great gift. ( Thanks Powell)
Pedal Through It

Monday, September 29, 2008

Autumn is Coming

Saturday morning was beautiful with temps in the mid 50's and no windw to speak of. I decided to get in a 20 mile ride (the route that I was trying to get doen the week before Earthride when the weather ((and Gary)) wouldn't cooperate with me). This time we got it done however.

I've resigned myself to now trying to make sure that I ride through Lakeside park when I do these early morning jaunts around town. There is something about riding through there, especially this time of year with the leaves begining to turn, that is very calming and peaceful. Here's a shot from the harbor of the lighthouse that I got from another website. This would have been my view on Saturday morning had I rode through about an hour later (and if Gary was able to float as this was taken from a boat).

So I decided that Sunday morning, I would actually bring my camera along and shoot some pics in Lakeside Park. Well, once I got out into any kind of open area, I realized how much cooler it was out than Saturday morning. The wind was coming out of the north at probably 10 mph. Add that to the temps already in the low 50's and I and I was feeling it. By the time I got to Lakeside, I could really tell how that wind was blowing , and I tried to take a picture, in the dark, from the lighthouse looking at the opposite side of the harbor, where the waves were crashing against the rocks. I'm not a great photographer, and my camera isn't the best, but I think this give you a little bit of an idea.
So after seeing the waves, and feeling the wind, I think mother nature is hinting that fall has set in, and not far behind that, winter. I guess I better get some new long-johns if I plan to keep riding year round.
I appologize if anyone that reads this is inclined to cheer for the New York Mets, but here in Wisconsin, we can't help but be happy that they tanked in September again so the Brewers could get into the plyoffs fro the first time in 26 years. Go Brew Crew!!!!!
Pedal through it

Monday, September 22, 2008

Earth Ride '08

Well, Maywood Earth Ride ,08 has come and gone. What a great day! What a great ride! So now you'll have to sit through pictures and stories. Get the popcorn going.

Met up with Jonny K around 8:00. Rode down to the starting line where they had bike a station set up for bike repairs (luckily neither one of us needed any). We were greeted by a giant racoon (at least I thinik it was a racoon), evidently the Maywood mascot. Here's a shot of Jonny K and I with our new fuzzy friend.

We proceeded into the main building at Maywood, which by the way is a beautiful structure, to have a little continental breakfast. They put on a real nice spread with fresh fruit, bakery, energy bars, (and gels - yuk!). We both had our first experience with energy gels. Taste like dung - but boy did that give me a kick in rear at the beginning of the ride.

After we had our breakfast, we were walking back to the bikes when I saw a familiar face. I had to do a double take as he looked a little different but the face was unmistakeable. A friend of mine from years past and his wife were doing the race with two other people and being billed as "Team Lasky".

I was nice to see Tiny and Jenny again. Now that I know they're into this sorta thing, maybe we'll see more of each other at other rides. Ah, yes - bicycling - bringing people together. By the way, the way congrats to both Tiny & Jenny as they have both visibly lost weight and look great. Tiny shared with me he's dropped 138 lbs. Keep it up guys! Hopefully I'll join you in the weight loss column now that I'm "back in business".

Well, now it's time to start the ride. Mass start, being led out by our "fuzzy friend". I give that dude alot of credit for wearing that coon outfit all day in 75-80 degree temps. Being it was my first official "ride", I wasn't sure what to expect. Started a little slow for my taste (especially after that power gel). Once we got out of Maywood and we broke away from the "peloton" so to speak, it was a great ride.

Jonny K says O-tay

At the starting line.

I had a God awful, incesant, clicking about 7-8 miles into the ride. Neither myself, nor Jonny K could figure out what it was. We stopped at Whitetail Bowhunters Sportsman's Club for a rest stop. I messed with the gear rings a bit, and we never really heard the clicking again after that. I think Gary needs a tune up.

Whitetail Bowhunters Rest Stop

From here on out it was smooth sailing. Some nice down hill runs that we were able to top out at 24 mph. Tiny caught up to us again right at the end as we crossed into the Maywood drive way to the Sheboygan North High School Cheerleaders cheering every rider to the finish.

A very nice lunch was put out for all the riders. We had a sub and a bowl of soup. They did have courtesy massages, but I took Jonny's advice and thought better of it.

My thanks to all of the people and companies that made it possible for me to ride via the pledges they donated. I also have to give kudos to Maywood for puting ona great ride. And thanks to all the volunteers that gave of their time handing out snacks or manning th SAG vehicles. Everyone was exceptional. That's all for now.

Pedal through it.


Monday, September 15, 2008

This Sucks!

Alright, with Earth Ride '08 less than 1 week away now, I figured I'd get two nice 20 mile rides in this weekend to finish my training for the 25 miler on Saturday. Oh no, it can never be that easy can it?

Saturday 09/13/08

Alarm goes off at 3:45 A.M. I proceed to the little boys room to empty the tank. I look out the window and see dry ground. I begin to gear up. Go down stairs. Look out the window and see wet ground. Turn on the weather channel. No local forcasts as they are covering hurricane Ike pounding the tar out of Houston. Check local channels. Too early for them to have any weather or news on and they are all broadcasting paid advertising. 4:30 A.M. Finally see local radar. It's going to be raining (and hard) for a while. Wife needs to get up for work in 1.5 hours and I need to be back to be with Trail Pup (our 8 month old daughter). I resign this morning to going to the grocery store at 5:00 A.M. - by the way it stopped raining at like 7:00 P.M. Total mileage - 0

Sunday 09/14/08

Alarm goes off at 3:45 A.M. I proceed to the little boys room to empty the tank. I look out the window and see dry ground. I begin to gear up. Go down staris. Look out the window and see dry ground. Sweet. I'm on the road at 3:54 A.M. Plenty of time to get in 20 miles or so and still be back to do my monthly ushering duties at church. 4:18 A.M. I shift to the "big schprocket" and the chain comes off. No problem. Put chain back on. Keep moving. 4:25 A.M. Prairie Trail southern trail head. I shift again. Chain comes off. Wraps around the bottom bracket shell. Don't ask me how this one happened. All I know is it's dark and the only tools I have are my bare hands. Flip Gary upside down on the trail. Remove the back wheel (thank God for quick realease). Long story short - 20 minutes later, Gary's back together and I'm rolling again. No chance now of getting the 20 miles in. I'd have to make some quick route adjustments. I ended cutting out riding into Taychedah and clipping the "Piggly Wiggly Loop" out of the ride. I did ride through Lakeside Park for the first time on a bike. I wish I'd had my camera along cuz there were some nice early morning shots. Total mileage - 16. Trail Dog ticker up to 126 (should have been 150).

So next week is the Earth Ride. I should be ok with 1-25 mile ride. Looks to be a gorgeous day from what they're saying right now any way. Post Earth Ride. I did start to pick up some cold weather gear. I don't think cold temps are going to hang Gary up for the winter, but the first heavy snows may (at least for road riding - I'll have to drive to the trail heads, unless I get one of those Surley "Pugsley"s that our Alaskan friends are riding). Doing an MTB racing clinic on 10/11/08 and hopefully getting some Singletrack in with Scotty on 10/19/08. That will be my next challenge. Till then.

Just pedal through it


Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sometimes, the battles that are fought within are the hardest ones to win. As I sit and look through some pictures of one of the latest houses that I designed (those of you that know me know I make my living as an architectural designer), that conflicting feeling is starting to rear it's ugly head again.

On one hand, I feed my family by designing new homes and light commercial structures (not the most lucrative career, but only I'm looking to take what I need from this world). I like designing. I think I'm pretty good at it (been doing it for 14 years). Aside from retail and factory work, it's the only work I know. It's fun getting to talk to people from around the country and sometimes getting to go see the houses.

On the other hand, I feed my spirit and soul while enjoying the beauty of nature by biking, scuba diving, hiking, running, or just sitting and watching. I have a deep seeded belief that this state, this country, this WORLD, is being developed way to quickly. I can't help but think that maybe some of the older homes in populated areas can be refurbished and remodeled and keep some of the outlying areas for farmland, parks, or recreational trails. I want my daughter to be able to enjoy biking as much as her mother and I do. Maybe I'm getting too worked up over nothing, but when in the 10 years that I've lived in the city I live in, I've seen the city limits stretch out 5 miles in some directions, it makes me think. Is that just progress? Then I look and see some great old houses that have been standing for 100 years standing vaccant, while 20 new houses are being built in an area where just last year I saw wildlife. It's almost heartbreaking in some aspects. Maybe I'm just too "old school". Ok, I'm done venting for today. But the battle rages on.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Earth Ride '08 Training #2

Great riding weekend! I craked the 100 mile mark for the season at around 4:45 A.M. yesterday morning(Trail Dog tracker up to 110). I know it's not much, but it's alot for me. Got (2) 15 mile rides in on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was definately my gear working that screwed me up last weekend. I talked with Jonny K about it durring the week and decided that I probably was not in the gear that I should have been, thus causing me to work way too hard, and burn out way too soon. What a difference a gear makes! Upped my average speed and my max speed. One weekend left of training, and then comes the ride. Jonny K and I leave at 9:00 A.M. to complete the 25 mile course (I'll get some photos for posting).

Also, I wore my helmet for the first time this weekend on both rides. It's a requirement for the Earth Ride so I figured I'd better get used to it. It's not as bad as I thought (other than it makes me look like I've got a forehead the size of a drive-in movie screen).

After almost 10 years of seeing limited action, the batteries in my cat-eye finally need to be changed. I don't think the next set of batteries is going to last nearly as long. I'm really liking the looks of the new Cannondale "Caffine", but I don't want to betray Gary just yet. He's been pretty good to me (unless someone out there has a compelling argument - I'm willing to listen).

Peace , Love, and Crabs


Friday, September 5, 2008

Ergon Grips?

Has anyone used or currently use any of the Ergon Grip products? I've seen them advertised in Magazines and on Fatty's blog. I understand the concept behind them, but was wondering if anyone had any "real world" experience that they could "share with the rest of the class". I tend to get numbness in my fingers after longer rides. Now I realize that is mostly due to the fact that I'm 6'-4" and weigh 280 lbs, and that my hands are supporting my entire upper body (which is the majority of my 280 lbs). It just stands to reason that a grip with a larger surface area would distribute my weight a little differently. Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts or comments, post away.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Training for Earth Ride '08

4:30 A.M. is a great time to ride a bike. My wife thinks I'm nuts for getting up that early, but what she doesn't understand yet is that at 4:30 A.M.; I own the road. Car traffic is extremely minimal, and human contact is nill (which sometimes is a good thing). I think my Pastor explains it best, "there are two kinds of people, those who get their batteries charged when they talk to other people, and those who get their batteries drained when they talk to other people." I'm definately the latter, so a nice 10 mile ride in the small hours is a great "re-charge". I upped the ante to 10 miles on all three days of the long weekend (which by the way takes the Trail Dog Tracker to 81). I was extremely disapointed on Sunday when I saw that my ride time increased by one minute. I shrugged it off because my max speed increased by 3 MPH, so I figured I just burned myself out too soon. I was then supremely disappointed on yesterday morning when I saw that my ride time increased by FIVE MINUTES from Saturday. Not sure the reason for this, but as a more "green" rider, I think it may have something to do with getting to know what gear to be in when just by the feel of the gear (cuz that early in the morning, I sure can't SEE what gear I'm in). Oh well, live and learn. Next weekend I think I'll up the ante again and try to get two 15 mile rides in (before my wife or daughter wake up). On a fun note, my 8 month old daughter and I were on the Jumbo-tron at Miller Park in Milwaukee, as the Brewers handed the game to the Mets (way to go Gagne). If any one has any training tips, thoughts, or words of profound wisdom on my methodology of training, please feel free to comment. Later.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mascoutin Valley Trail (West Leg)

The Mascoutin Valley Trail comes to us in two parts. The west leg from Ripon to Berlin, WI, and the east leg from Fond du Lac to Rosendale, WI. The section between Rosendale and Ripon is privately owned and will probably never be secured by Fond du Lac county to complete the trail (never say never). On May 10th, '08, my buddy Weg and I decided to tackle the west leg (9 miles one way - 18 miles added to the Traildog Tracker). It's about 2 miles from the trailhead parking lot to the Fond du Lac - Winnebago County line. Here's two pictures standing at the county line. The first one is looking south into Fond du Lac County. The second is looking north into Winnebago County.

Pretty evident that Winnebago County doesn't take this trail quite as seriouslty as Fond du Lac. As a side note, once you got through Winnebago county, Green lake County did do a much better job of keeping their part of the trail groomed. Green Lake County is actually the best part of this trail. There was even an old rail car loading facility out in the middle of the woods that was all grown over (pretty cool). Only scary thing was once you get almost into Berlin, you ride right through the middle of a sportsman's club trap range. Here's a sign that you don't see every day. So that's our adventure on the Mascoutin Valley West (nobody got shot thank God). Someday I'll get to the east leg. Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I should be able to keep up from here on out. The Traildog Tracker stands at 51 miles as of today (08.27.08). Been getting out EARLY on Saturday and Sunday mornings to get my legs back. Pedals (Jon) and I are doing Earth Ride '08 to bennefit the Maywood environmental park in Sheboygan, WI on Septmeber 20th. No word yet from the Tinkler as to whether or not he will be joining us. For more info on Earth Ride go to We're going to do the 25 mile tour this year. Thanks to my first corporate sponsor Countryside Designs of West Bend, WI for helping out with the registration (maybe next year we'll see some jerseys). Keep your eyes peeled for updates and changes as my cohorts and I become more serious about this cycling thing.
Peace Out Suckas,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Inter Urban Trail (Cedar Grove to Belgium) April 26th '08

Here's a little bit newer post for everyone. Still a smidge behind after this last weekend, but we'll get there. This ride was on April 26th, 2008, on the Inter Urban Trail between Cedar Grove and Belgium (about a 6 mile stretch). The weather sure didn't want to cooperate with us this day as we had temperatures in the 40's with 25 MPH sustained winds and gusts up to 35. Only a hearty (or stupid) individual decides to hit the trail on a day like this, and the squadron was made up of myself, the Trailside Tinkler, and one of our newest riders, Jon K -AKA: Professor Pedals or just Pedals. Here's a shot of of Tinkler and Pedals feeling the temperature in Belgium. Aside from the not so great weather, the trail itself is a nice ride. Paved as opposed to crushed limestone made for a pretty smooth morning. Tinkler rode his new Giant hybrid bike and said he really enjoyed the ride (even in the cold). Pedals was on his Trek hybrid and me on the Gary Fisher offroad round out the roll call. A real pretty ride through this part of Sheboygan and Ozaukee Counties. Some of the trail even goes through a quite active water fowl production site. Only one problem with water fowl (ducks in this particular instance). This fine feathered friend (who decided to stay anonymous) just happened to be one hell of a shot as he bombed my knee in mid stride. That's why I say "Hey man nice shot"! We did cut this ride a little short due to the weather. Hopefully we'll hit this one later on in the season cuz it was a nice ride. After this 12 mile jaunt, the Trail Dog's season mileage goes up to a whopping 19 miles (last season's miserable total finished at 25). Next up: Mascoutin Valley State Trail (Western Leg). Till next time, don't forget to re-connect your brake cable.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wild Goose May 2007

Let's get this thing started with last year's ride (It's the only one I have pictures uploaded for right now). This was the innaugural ride for the "Saddle Sore Squadron". Let's introduce the players shall we. From left to right on the group pic: Me(Craigers) AKA: Trail Dog; Nate H, AKA: Captain Climber; Scott R, AKA: Hill Killer; Dan P, AKA; Trailside Tinkler. At any rate the Wild Goose Trail(I'll post a link with a trail map), stretching between Fond du Lac, WI and Clyman Junction, WI is a great ride for beginners through intermediate. Surface is crushed lime stone so it lends itself better to mountain bikes rather than roadsters. However at the end of May, we'll be doing another ride on the same surface and I think Tinkler will be riding a hybrid so we'll see how that works out. Most of our rides occur on trails put together through the Rails to Trails program which turns old rail road beds into recreational trails. I'll post a link to their web site so you can see if there are any in your area. We did 18 Miles on "The Goose" this day (Fond du Lac to Oak Center and back). That was all these out of shape bodies could handle that day. This trail extends for 34.8 miles one way and skirts the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Also did a "Ghost Ride" on this one for 12 Miles between Fondy and Oakfield one week after this ride. Only saw one other soul on that trip. Good "head clearer". We'll definately be doing this trail again. That's all for now (even though it's technically a year old already). Wait till you see the next post from a ride we did in April '08. I'll post as soon as I upload some pics.
Peace out Suckas,