Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mod's Wild Ride

Seven of us peeled off from downtown Omaha for one of Mark Savery's (Mod) twisty road rides through Council Bluffs and Crescent Iowa's hill country.

Mapped as 37 miles, the ride wasn't long on distance. But it felt long because of all the climbing: 14%, 15%, even 16%! gradients. If you want a good hill workout around Omaha, get in touch with Mod. He's got western Iowa covered.

This type of hill workout nearly justifies a granny-gear. However, most of us flat landers have traditional double chain rings. Only lately have compacts become more common among roadies. The gear ratios compacts offer would be more suitable on this ride than a double ring. But a triple chain ring with a granny gear for really steep climbs? Perhaps a few hills around here could use a third ring.

My good buddy Shim has a triple on his Rocky Mountain cross bike. His bike also sports a clip on rear-fender. Midway through last weekend's ride, the fender fell off. He rode the rest of the way with it in his back jersey pocket. Since it's common knowledge that clip on fenders are practically worthless, it should come as no surprise that the fender performed only slightly worse in his back pocket than when it was physically mounted to his bike. Anyway, the fender was back today. The contrasting blue duct tape used to secure it to his red bicycle was a nice touch.

While Shim's fender'd bike has a granny gear, Rafal was pushing a 42x18 single speed up those hills. Holy exploding knee caps, that dude can mash. Did it bother him? Rafal said he would have preferred a bigger gear for the flat sections.

For the most part, Kevin was riding conservatively today. There was one major throw down, however. Not far beyond the legendary prime rib served at Crescent's Pink Poodle restaurant, there's an absurd climb on Badger Ave. At a 15% gradient, it wasn't the steepest hill of the route. But at well over a quarter mile with very little run-up, it was the ride's longest section of sharp climbing.

Knowing how difficult the climb was, I planned to launch a surprise attack on Kevin, who had previously never ridden it. Seeing me attack, Kevin would then counter, charge up the hill and then totally blow up. It was text book. Taking that hill from Kevin would then be like taking candy from a baby.

So when it came time, I stood up and charged. After 30 seconds, I eased up a bit to allow Kevin to blast by. But for some inexplicable reason, Kevin didn't attack. Instead, I looked back and found him glued to me. A total wheel sucker! My great plan had backfired. Instead of hunting him down, I had become the prey. Well, I wasn't going to have that, so I sat up. It was at that moment that Kevin finally launched the counter attack and left us all behind.

Now here's a familiar sight:

Behind are Mod, Shim and I.

A short while later, the pack reformed

Ryan and Roxy were also with the group. Riding alongside a married couple was a first for me. I also now know why Ryan is as fast as he is: Roxie is one tough chic. Thanks for coming out, Roxy. You not only held your own, but kept most of us civil.

I did say most.


  1. I love that area. 185th St, Jefferson, and Badger is one of my favorite road runs.

  2. Dude, you seriously have a thing for catching guys peeing. Well, at least I now have company as one of the "caught" guys.

  3. I don't know what the fuss is about. I've gone up that Badger hill twice, and it was a piece of cake.

    Well, I was off the bike, pushing it up the hill, so I'm not sure how that rates. :)

    I do plan to go back someday and surmount the hill properly.

  4. Aaron - do yo run out in that area? And when you do, are you barefoot?

    Munson - Although Shim has a Garmin cyclocomputer, he prefers the tradtional way of marking his territory. 

    Redd - I believe that you were on a single speed when you made the assault.Do you recall what your gear ratio was back then?

  5. Brady Murphy,
    I will take my road bike there when it's nice outside to have more "pleasant" encounter

  6. hey...I rode this weekend too down in Kansas City.... (on a stationary bike in a Spin Class with a demonic instructor).

    My Phreds are losers--no one wants to ride outside in this weather. I feel like the pain needs to be shared so I did the Spin Class.

    Which one of you guy has the "race blades" and do those work?

  7. Your story has so many facts wrong you should be writing for the New York Times. It's not even worth dignifying the post with a response.

  8. Aah, Shim, you can't not say something. It's impossible. :)

    Thanks for welcoming me on the sufferfest. 3rd time on the new X01. Yep, coulda totally used a granny gear. Great route, though. Looking forward to doing it again on the Madone, sans winter boots and wide tires. The hills def. kept me warm though!

  9. I did some barefoot running there last summer but only around L&C park and along Old Lincoln Hwy.

  10. Murphini, I have a Bontrager version of the race blades and they're just about the same.

    With regard to how they work - your rear will be clean as if you had full fenders on, your bike will not be so lucky. And the front - well, your shoes will get wet if you speed through standing water. The front fender isn't long enough to be real useful, in my opinion. But you could easily tack on a shaped piece of 2 liter soda bottle to extend it.

  11. Roxy: I thought Shim was writing his name in the snow. I was wrong. To my surprise, he was actually sharing his thoughts about the NY Times. But when he saw me approaching, he changed the message. Closet Liberal!

    I agree: taking on those hills on a Madone will be fun. Looking fwd to the Mod's Wild Ride Reloaded later this Spring.

    Munson: Good idea on the 2 litre bottle fender-extension. I tacked a mudflap on the front fender from an old tire. However, the rear fender requires a longer extension than the front. A tire didn't cut the muster. I like your solution. Indeed, a good fender keeps yellow snow on the street where it belongs.

    Aaron: bare foot running is intrigues me. There's been lots of research lately on it. I may give it a go on softer surfaces.

    I'd be willing to bet I'd like it more than going hunting with Shim, Rush and Cheney.

  12. Man Shim, how much coffee do you drink??

  13. Anyone who knows Munson knows how funny his last comment was.

  14. Did anyone else notice that Brady was doing all of this pee writing during work hours, I think I'm gonna turn him in.

  15. Traction again, although the road looked wet and not icy. We were in Telluride this week and I saw a cruiser bike with real chains. The chains hugged the tires not to interfere with the caliper brakes and snug enough clear the fenders.