Gravel Metric 2012 – Devil Dancer Hell Furnace

In early March, Brad, Martin, Rick and Shawn decided to ride the 2012 Gravel Metric in DeKalb IL. We decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend and drive into DeKalb on Saturday, ride Sunday, and drive home on Monday.

The extra time on Saturday proved to be useful. We were able to stop at 3floyds brewery in Munster IN for lunch and meet up with Rich, a friend of Brad’s.

Brad waiting patiently outside of 3floyds

Brad waiting patiently outside of 3floyds

It was immediately clear upon arrival that 3floyds was going to be chaotic. At 12:30 P.M., there was already a ~20 person line at the front door. People were unhappily leaving the exit door of the retail section muttering there was no Zombie Dust left. It was unclear if the line at the front door was for retail purchases or taproom seating.

After the doorman donned some sunglasses, he started to move the line faster. Surprisingly, there were plenty of open tables once we got inside. Luckily, there was draft and cask Zombie Dust on tap.

3floyds taproom

3floyds taproom

Martin generously and smartly offered to be the designated driver for the remainder of the day. With Martin taking the wheel of responsibility, Brad, Rick and Shawn enjoyed a few more selections from the 3floyds taproom.

Rick checked the weather when we got back on the highway to get an idea of what we could expect for Sunday’s ride. His mobile phone’s weather bug app showed a cactus and sun graphic for Sunday with temperatures in the 90’s. Rick had never seen the the cactus graphic before and we decided to interpret it as unusually and extraordinary hot weather. The cactus image also brought to mind the refreshing taste of Daisy Cutter beer from Half Acre Brewery.

It seemed appropriate to visit Half Acre to show support for their sponsorship of the Gravel Metric. Martin pointed the van North and we headed into the heart of Chicago. We got an excellent parking spot in front of Half Acre and walked in to find that the brewery does not have a taproom. We were able to taste several beers and buy some 4 packs to go. Half Acre had a very friendly atmosphere.

Forgot the rack lock key so we had to cable lock at Half Acre

Forgot the rack lock key so we had to cable lock at Half Acre

Not being deterred by the lack of a taproom at Half Acre, we took our 4 packs of Daisy Cutter and Double Daisy Cutter to a park on Damen just south of the Brewery. Relaxing in the park with Daisy Cutter was a nearly perfect preparation routine for the following day.

Half Acre taproom

Half Acre taproom

The drive from Chicago to DeKalb went smoothly. We checked in to our hotel and got ready for the pre-ride party that Tobie posted about on Facebook. We were happy to bring 3 cases of Founders beer to the party.

The pre-race party was hosted by Tobie’s friend Jim. Jim built a wood fire pizza oven in his backyard and was cooking pizzas throughout the night for attendees. We heard later in the weekend that Jim and his son Ben cooked 41 pizzas. We met many people involved with organizing the ride and had a wonderful time. At the party, we put the last few nails in our dehydration coffins with a few Centennial IPAs and Dirty Bastards.

Jim cooking pizza in his custom oven

Jim cooking pizza in his custom oven

Matin and Brad at Jim's house

Matin and Brad at Jim's house

The one hour time difference helped with an early-morning wakeup on Sunday. We hit IHOP for breakfast and then quickly prepared for the race. Our hotel was a short ride from North Central Cyclery. During the ride to the bike shop, a local bank showed 84 degrees at 8:20 A.M. Sign-in and staging was low-key and fun.

Rick, Martin, Brad and Shawn before rollout

Rick, Martin, Brad and Shawn before rollout

Brad donning bandana cue sheet with mustache!

Brad donning bandana cue sheet with mustache!

We rolled out from NCC shortly after 9 A.M. behind a police escort that guided us out of DeKalb. The rollout had an atmosphere of fun compared to the usual tension and competitiveness of a race. The pace picked up when we finally hit the gravel.

Rick and Brad during rollout

Rick and Brad during rollout

Oh the gravel! The gravel in DeKalb is much more coarse and slushy feeling in sections than the dirt and gravel roads we are used to riding in West Michigan. It was fun to experience such a different terrain. We got used to the gravel after the first mile or so.

The route held mostly to gravel but also included some paved road sections and sections that could be described as farm roads or trails.

Rick rolling on a farm path

Rick rolling on a farm road

Beautiful gravel road

Beautiful gravel road

The heat and wind made the ride challenging. We were all short on hydration at rollout and the ~100 degree temperature didn’t help (one rider mentioned his Garmin reporting 109). On average, most of us needed 6 bottles of water to make it through the ride.

Volunteers at three aid stations helped support riders with water, snacks, and icy squirt gun blasts to the chest and face. A family helped support the ride by providing fruit and keeping a hose running at their residence located on the route. Another couple parked a truck on the route and supported riders with water bottles.

Rick, Brad and Martin at aid station one

Rick, Brad and Martin at aid station one

By the end of the ride, we could hear tar bubbles popping under our tires as we rode on the paved sections. Luckily the wind was a tailwind during the final miles of the ride.

We were truly wrecked by the end of the ride. The running hose provided by North Central Cyclery at the end of the ride was a godsend. Many riders hung out at the bike shop post ride to exchange stories and wait for friends.

Truly wrecked at end of ride

Truly wrecked at end of ride

We rode to our hotel for a post-ride Double Trouble and then went to Fatty’s for our complimentary Daisy Cutter during the post-ride raffle. Just about everyone walked away with cool schwag at the post-ride raffle. Fatty’s was very accommodating of all the riders.

Anything goes at Fatty's

Anything goes at Fatty's

We finished off Sunday with a small pool party at the hotel. Lots of the Half Acre crew were there and we tried to hook as many people up with Founders as we could. El Burrito Loco made for a good late night meal that overcame the disappointment that the cable was out and we couldn’t finish watching Joe Dirt.

Waiting for Joe Dirt to come back on

Waiting for Joe Dirt to come back on

We drove back home on Memorial Day after a great breakfast at Flippin Eggs. None of us dared to try the 3lb hamburger but our breakfast food was good and the service was excellent.

The Monster Burger was too much to handle after the GM

The Monster Burger was too much to handle after the GM

Thanks to all Gravel Metric organizers, sponsors and volunteers. We had a wonderful time!

Thanks GM crew!

Thanks GM crew!

What You Sippin’ On?

The Arcadian Grit and Gravel

(Apparently “GRIT” is the new word for “SAND”)

About a month or so ago, a new race came onto the scene that offered a chance for a CO-ED team to participate.  In adventurous spirit, true to the Founder’s Team, a bunch of us decided to sign up: In ABC order we had Jeff, Jeremy, Josh, Martin, Matt, Scott T. and Tim. Marnie would be the chick.  On race day the weather could NOT have been better! The sun was shining, the temps were in the high 60’s for the warm-up and made it to the high 70’s by race end.

The guys talked strategy and decided that Martin would be Marnie’s “Mule”…I mean, “Super-Domestic”. The rest of the team would just surge ahead to try and get some good times for the podium.

As we lined up in a pit of sand behind the Arcadian Elementary School, the only thing going through my mind was: “I hope the course isn’t like this”.  There was no wood to knock on because after the “ants-pace roll-out” we squeezed a big pack of riders into a skinny gravel-sand laden straight-away road. It was fast, slow, speed-up, breaks, people riding on the grass, hitting mailboxes and pretty much a bust to get up front. I was just searching for my “Super Domestic” and trying to stay within sight of him.  My lungs immediately filled with dust and I was thankful for the sunglasses to keep my eyes from filling with dust, too.  The first climb separated the men from the boys: And the girl from her mule: A long gravel/sandy uphill where if you picked the wrong line, you were down. I could hear Martin shouting, “You coming, Marn?” I thought I was dying. Uphill sand is not my forte. Once Martin and I met again, we were off.  I started to get my groove and then we finally hit the singletrack!

This is where the fun began! We dipped into the woods and enjoyed the bumps and berms of the Arcadian National Forest. Passed 1 girl. Passed another, then another! Martin was yelling, “You’ve got to get some distance on those roadies!” And cheering, “You with me, Marn? Marnie are you there?”  I am telling you (and I know it is hard to believe) I rarely talk during a race! Martin was extremely shocked when I would respond, “right here!” We danced our way out of the forest onto some more joyous sandy 2 tracks where once again, my Super Domestic surged ahead as I was “playing” in the beach sand.

We hit a FAST downhill ripper singletrack for the finale coming out onto yet another sandy 2 track where 2 Grandma’s were yelling “Turn left! Turn left!” Actually, we had to basically turn around and find the gravel road over our left shoulder.  The end was near…or so we thought. Martin tells me, “I’m toast! Go ride with Brian” so I hook up with one of his TNR guys.  The last strectch of paved road to the finish and here comes my SUPER DOMESTIC to save the day!  Delivered by some stranger “we” (meaning Martin the Super Domestic) helped during the race: “Let’s get you guys to the finish” he yelled and let us draft off of him heading into the Lake Michigan wind… until he was spent.  As Martin pulled us across the finish line, our time was 2:02-something.

After our hose shower, we found out that our team had finished FIRST!

It was an awesome celebration! We had all packed a picnic and Rick had said to Scott, “If you are having a sandwich after the race, ya gotta bring the tent!” So we popped the FOUNDERS tent up and enjoyed the shade and each other’s stories of the race. We got a little slap happy as Jeff Jacobi shared stories from the night before. “WHAT YOU SIPPIN’ ON?” became the line-of-the-day! I think we will print it on our jerseys next season because we all know the answer to that one: ANYTHING FOUNDER’S  BREWS!

Results:

OVERALL TEAM

(1st) Founders/Alger

PRO

(8th) Jeff Jacobi ……1:45:33

29 and Under

(2nd) Jeremy Karel….1:45:53

30-39

(3rd) Josh Hogeterp…1:45:40

(5) Matt Remelts…….1:50:06

(16) Scott Thenikl…….1:59:01

50+

(5th) Tim Curtis….1:51:26

(10th) Martin Hall (Aka MULE/SUPER DOMESTIC) …2:02:18

Overall Women

(1st) Marnie TenCate ……2:02:19

4 Podium finishes for our first ever Arcadian Grit and Gravel! CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!

 

 

Fort Custer Stampede

Dont ask me why I have never done it in 22 years of racing. But I have not before last weekend tried my hand of the Fort Custer Stampede. In spite of it being one of my favorite places to ride. Just never thought about it. But fueled with the confidence from words of encouragement from team Ultra Endurance Superstar Dennis Murphy I decided that this was my year. Also the team is trying to do more M.M.B.A. C.P.S. races this year!
So the race starts out in a big open field then immediately funnels into narrow single track. I got a great holeshot! Going into the narrows I was in 2nd place. After about a quarter mile, it was obvious that the guy in front had no business being out front. The pace slowed WAY down and I took an opportunity to get by.
I had a quick rush of exitement only to realize that I was now the rabbit with 19 miles to go! I held on wondering if the pace would cause me to blow up for a couple of miles. Then we were working through the wave ahead of us and we came to a switchback uphill section. Almost to the top, I was taken surprise by a left hand off camber uphill turn with roots that stopped my momentum dead! I didnt go down but the dab with enough for 2 other riders to get past. (crap)
So the 3 of us rode the rest of the lap with no changes in position, just working our way through the slower riders we were encountering on the way.
Going into the second lap I was stoked at the position that i was in and the fact that i now had a general layout of the course in my head. About a quarter of the way into lap 2 I lost my amigos in a single track section that they were able to get ahead of a slower rider that I wasnt. Never saw them again. Until about 3 miles from the end I saw one of the 2 guys off on the side of the trail(apparently having a technical). Then with daylight ahead on the last couple of gravely climbs there was a new player behind me that i hadnt seen before. The last mile or so was flat and a big ring pedal as fast as you can stretch to the finish and this guy wasn’t going to let me coast. After pushing as hard as i could to the finish, I was able to hold him off with my back reminding me that Im a A.A.R.P. qualifier!! Much to my amazement I had top honors! So the other guy that passed me either wasn’t in my class or I got past him and didn’t realize it. But i got to experience my first podium stand. It was nice!!

Other notable finishers were;
Single Speed Spin machine (Texas) Tom Stolz 3rd. Place
Jeremy (Krusher) Karel 3rd. Place
Matt (the Rocket) Remelts 5th. Place
and last but by no means least
Marnie (the talker) Tencate 4th. Place