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Best overall finish to date! We had a beautiful day to race, and a great crowd of both spectators and racers. This year Malibu and the M&M climb were added to the course which proved to be a great help to me. I ended up 6th overall and 3rd in my age group. Should have had 5th overall, but a dropped chain cost me 20 seconds or so. Either way, fun was had, suffering was complete and relentless.
Right now I’m holding 4th place in my age group for the year.

Friends take friends gravel grinding! Road riding more has led to more acquaintances, and more invitations to ride. Today, I met up with a buddy and a couple new buddies to take part in one such ride.
We started in Ellisville  and headed south on gravel past Jim Thome’s place and on to the intersection of Babylon and Helle. Crossed a cool closed bridge and headed toward Checkrow. We meandered around all the way down to Bernadotte. There were some incredible climbs and awesome gravel! After a brief stop at the cafe in Bernadotte we headed back. All in all we hit 66 miles of gravel and about 3k feet of climbing.
I told Tim after it was over that was the most fun I’ve had on a bike that wasn’t on singletrack!

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So, as of about two weeks ago I was officially invited to the 312 Little Ade’s race team. Jubilee was my first race as part of the team.  Since our order for new jerseys won’t ship for a few weeks I stood at the start in a hand me down kit and prepared for the hardest race of the series.
When we got into the woods I was in 14th place out of a 41 man field. The first climb gave me a chance to move up a couple spots, but the heat and the hills of jubilee made it tough to catch others.
Ended up passing another guy in the third lap and came in 10th overall and 3rd in my age group.
I guess that jersey really does make you faster. 

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After a couple month long wait I finally brought home my first CX bike. My search started earlier in the year. I was torn between a cx bike and a fat bike for a long time. After a little thought it seemed that I would see more benefit from the cx bike. It could be used for commuting, gravel grinding, and cx racing. Once I decided on the type of bike the real homework began. Should I go with Felt, Evil S, Kona, Santa Cruz or one of the many other options?
My budget said the Stigmata was out, some of the other contenders either lacked features or had pretty low end components in the range I was looking. As much as I hate to admit it I narrowed it down to Kona and Spesh. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Kona, but never been a big red S fan. I just don’t like the large amount of proprietary stuff they use, but after looking the crux over I decided I could deal with their 105 build bike. Kona’s Jake series caught my eye. The Snake had the minimum 105 build I could live with, bosses for racks, mounts for fenders, through axle in front, and a threaded BB to boot! If I moved up to Private Jake I gained a little spec, through axle front and rear, but lost a 2x drivetrain.
In the end Jake The Snake won out. After a 2 month back-order for my size it finally arrived on Friday. I had already pre-ordered a set of TRP spyre brakes to put on it right away. So, after a few minutes of brake swapping I was ready to roll. I’ve only managed to get ~25 miles on it so far thanks to the weather this weekend, but it’s a fun ride!

Abermination is the first race in the IHRS season as well as the Iowa series. That makes for a big crowd! I arrived this morning just as the novice race was taking off. After registering I chatted with a few buddies that I haven’t talked to (other than on Strava) since last season. As the novices started their final lap I followed behind to get a pre-ride in. It’s a very fast and flowy course with only a couple of climbs, but they are both fairly lengthy.
Start time saw probably 50-ish racers at the line for the cat 2 race. Since I’d never ridden the course before today my expectations weren’t high. I really felt pretty good and had a blast. I took one spill on the last lap that left a good scrape and bruise on my hip. Other than that it was a clean race. I had to leave right afterwards, but I think I ended up 7th in my age group. I was pleased considering it was my first time there.
Looking forward to a fun season!

With January out of the way no one can acuse me of setting new years resolutions now. IHRS has put the 2016 calendar out, so my planning for the race season has begun. This will be my first year to register for the series and get into the points standings and I’m pretty excited about it.
Not that this is a comprehensive list, but I’m puting down a few of my cycling goals for the year in order to help me keep my eye on the prize.

1. Complete my first century. Planning to join a supported one in the end of March.

2. Break the one hour mark @ Indy TT. That’s only four mrnutes off last years time.

3. Get on the podium in a cat II xc race.

4. Complete BTE in under 5:15

These are the big ones, and those of which I will press toward the hardest. Will there be more? Who knows.

Over the past year I got the chance to do a lot of fun stuff as far as cycling. My mileage was more than triple that of the previous year. (2,346 miles) 9 races were entered and completed with no dnf’s! The race docket even included my first two endurance events.
New friends were made, skills were gained, fun was had. Now it’s on to the next goal. My plans for 2016 include more races, more (structured) training, better finishes, and a goal of 3k miles.

After only a couple weeks riding the road bike it’s apparent that this is the training jolt I needed. Is it as much fun as mtb? Absolutely not! Is it making me stronger and faster? Yes!
This morning with temps in the low 20’s I headed to WPP to hit some frozen trails. Half way through the first lap I realized I was pushing a bigger gear than normal in several spots. No, this is not a definitive test, but I can certainly feel the difference in strength. Next race season should be fun!

In order to do a little more intense training I’ve been keeping my eye out for a road or cross bike. Admittedly, I’d also like to save wear and tear on my mtb tires and frame from road biking during bad weather.
This past week I came upon an opportunity that I could not pass up. I was generously given a 2005 Specialized Allez Elite with a full Dura-Ace groupo. It came “some assembly required” in a couple boxes. After a quick  check all I needed was tires, tubes and cables.
The last couple of evenings I spent a little time getting it all together. Now we’re ready to roll! Hoping to get a chance to but some miles on today and see how it works.

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I think I’ll call her Big Red!

Almost two years ago I bought a set of Hope hubs laced to arch-ex rims. Both the rims and the hubs were a big upgrade from what I had been running. Unfortunately, I’ve gone through two free hub bodies and am currently on my third set of bearings. I’ve had a couple of catastrophic bearing failures (fractured inner races) As this past race season was ending I began to lose confidence in my wheels, so I decided I needed to start the search for a new wheel set.

After a fair bit of research and asking a few friends I decided to go with dt swiss 350 hubs. They seem pretty bullet proof and easily maintained. Rims were a different story. I am not dissatisfied with the arch ex, but thought I’d try something else. WTB freguency team i23 is a stiff rim that is a bit wider than the old ones.
Last night all of my parts arrived and it was time to try my first wheel build. The rear wheel built up nicely and quickly. This evening I did the front. It didn’t go quite as nicely, but I think we’re good to roll either way. I’m hoping to run by the shop tomorrow and see if there are any errors that I missed. Fingers crossed!

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