This is a community ride: an account from a solo rider

I woke up this morning feel great, with the exception of sore muscles.  I met up with Zane at Modern Times Cafe for brunch where we used to go when we both lived within a couple of blocks from there. We ran into some friends, including Jon and Mary Aka Speedy Gonzalez, the solo female 1st place winner.We were all obviously beat, but we chatted a bit about our experience. Zane and I sat at the counter and of course brought up memories of the last 24 hours. We parted ways, I went to the beach to reflect until it rained and took the longest nap when I got home.

I just wanted to share my experience of the Powderhorn 24 community ride since I had never done anything like this before. I did volunteer the last couple of years and spent some of the time photographing the event. Riding solo was definitely a different experience though. I never intended to take the race seriously, I signed up as a solo ride because I didn't want to disappoint any team members. I also wanted to solo ride so that I could stop a long the way and document as much as I could. I wanted to join in on the fun and just hang out and support my community. I rolled up to Freewheel right when they were beginning the meeting. As soon as I got on my bike and rolled off at the start, something clicked and I felt a little competitive. Since I was planning on taking it easy, I didn't prepare for much. I had my frame bag with some snacks and tools and just greased my bike chain. I was fortune enough to live a couple of blocks off the course, so I was able to stop home whenever I needed to and I did a lot.

I was supported by so many people during the race, it was amazing. I didn't take any pictures during the race because I wanted to keep riding. I looked at my phone to check the time for bonus stops once in a while. I had friends texting me to see if I needed anything, but I couldn't stop to write them back. Yes, I need something, but I can't stop! I got even more competitive when Stephanie Aich, told me I was in second, so at that point, I started taking it even more seriously. I had no clue that the results were being updated. I made sure that I was going to hit all the bonus stops. It was exciting to hear all the cheers and getting all the support. Ever lap, someone was offering support and I received a lot of individual support from those that knew I was riding solo. They made sure that I was eating enough and stayed hydrated to get through the 24 hours. But around 3:45 am, I was feeling sick to my stomach. I needed real food at this point, so I went home. I curled up into a ball on the couch. That's also around the time that Melissa Danielson stopped by to fuel up and we contemplated on whether we wanted to finish the race. She left and I stayed on the couch for a while longer.
I got up and decided that I could keep going. I kept riding and hit up all the bonus stops, but it was almost an eerie part of the night where everything really slows down, but yourself. The streets were really quiet, with little traffic and less and less riders riding side by side. Sometimes I would be the only person riding for a while and then a rider will just suddenly zoom right pass me. The potholes were the worst because you couldn't see all of them at night, but the traffic was almost non existent, which made the riding smooth.

I was feeling really sick again around 6 am. Transitioning to day light was hard for me. I was feeling dizzy, but I made myself stop by the Yoga bonus stop. I was thinking that my body really needed it because I was sore all over the place, especially my back, but yoga just made me feel worst. I was half way through the race, at 7 am I decided that I was done, I couldn't handle it anymore So I finished the lap and decided to head home. I got on my bed hoping I could just throw up, but I couldn't, I laid in bed, but couldn't find a comfortable position, I felt like I was getting the chills,  I was caked in dirt laying in bed, but I just didn't care anymore. I wasn't tired, so I didn't really sleep, only zoned out for a while. I was bummed because I was so ahead of the riders below me. Oh well, I thought to myself, I at least reached my goal of 100 miles at that point, but sadly without pictures. 

Suddenly around 8:30, I got out of bed to try to vomit again. I stuck my head into a grocery bag, but nothing was gonna come out (sorry to be so graphic). I was disappointed and laid in fetal position again. I reached for my phone and noticed that it was 8:48 and remembered that there was a bonus stop that ended at 9. It was only a few blocks away from my house. I bounced right up and threw on my gear, I ran into my roommate Leif, he asked how I was doing and in the process I was freaking out, 'I have to go', I said, 'I need to get this bonus stop, because if I didn't there would be no point in torturing myself anymore'. I told him that this was never my plan I just wanted to ride and take pics. He said that I didn't have to as I was running out the door. I got on my bike and rolled up to the music lesson stop and had time to spare. I learned some chords and learned to play a song, very poorly. I was excited to do this because I had been meaning to stop by this shop because I've wanted a ukelele for a while. At this point I was starting to feel better. So I stopped by Powderhorn Park Pavillion for breakfast, but I still could barely eat anything. Coffee sounded like a great idea, but I could only take a couple of sips. The next bonus stop was at the Midtown Farmers market. I was still really out of it, so when we had to do a scavenger hunt, I found most things immediately, but the peanut butter. Where the heck was the peanut, butter? I went in circles about 9 times before I found it. I hit all of the bonus stops so far, so that made me excited, so it's time to do some more laps. I got even more excited when I hit Elise's house because of all of the support, I told myself that I was going to work this community ride until the end. 

At this point I was still in second, but the next few riders and I were neck in neck. I suddenly had a blast of energy. I felt great, only 8 more bonus laps and 20 more laps to go! At this point everyone was awake again and cheering and offering up everything I needed. It got to the point where I was eating and drinking everything that was put in my face. The watermelon stop got me really excited. It made me wonder, is there such a thing as too much watermelon and Gatorade and protein bars during a race? I also finally got some real food, I am thankful for the gyro. I didn't know what I was eating anymore, I almost didn't want to know what I was putting in my body, but it was working.

Everything was getting congested again. The bonus stops had huge lines, every busy street was slowing me down and there was more and more community support. I ran into my roommate on the route looking for me with a bag full of food and drinks. It was great!

I probably spent too much of my time at most of the stops. I loved talking to the elders at the home. I was so into decorating my ceramic bowl at Powderhorn Park for Empty Bowls, it turned out really cute! I also got serious at the 'draw your own bike stop', mostly because drawing isn't my strong suit. I got stumped when none of the markers were my bike color. I felt bad at the last stop bonus stop, meditation in Corcoran Park. I was laying on the ground eyes closed and I could here a bee buzzing around me, freaking me out. I still had a couple of hours to go, I wasn't going to let this bee stop me from going until the end. 

It was crunch time and the more and more laps the more exciting it got. People were cheering my name and it made me feel really special.  I just rode in a circles until they warned me that It was at my last lap, but I had to make it back by 7pm. I rode the hardest during the last lap and all the ladies in team Twat Gary were behind me pushing me the whole way to make sure that I didn't slow down. The last few minutes as I rolled through to the end was very exciting and emotional.

Thanks everyone who made this event possibly. I'm glad that it brought the community together. It was great to see friends from out of town, just to come and ride this event. Especially Zane. In the end, it wasn't so bad. I hope this story didn't scare anybody from trying it solo next year, every body is different and so are our experiences. Next year I would like to experience it with a team. Not only do we have a great bike community, but we have a great community and I want to thanks everyone!

Oh, by the way, I am Rocky Barboa, I got 2nd place in the solo women's category, 40 laps about 200 miles. These are the only pics I took this year with my smart phone.

Almanzo 2014

This year I decided to race in the Almanzo 100, it was my first gravel race. I spent a lot of time trying to get ready for both the camping and racing. I've come to realize that you could never feel ready, you just have to go for it!

First off, I got a lot of help through friends and the bike community, especially the seminar that Natalia Mendez, Megan Barr and Loretta Trevino hosted weeks before the race for Riotgrrravel. Of course I knew I needed food, tools, a variety of bike tools and things to carry those things in, but they got into more detail. There were a few that I had to borrow or buy and thanks to our sponsor Sunrise Cyclery, through team Koochella, I was able to purchase with a discount.

I cleaned my bike up and got some help from my friend Graham with a overhaul. I learned a lot on building and maintaining my bike in the last couple of months. It's good to know how to fix any bike problems you may have on your own. Luckily, I didn't have a whole lot of bike troubles, I guess I wasn't riding hard enough. By the time I had issues with my chain, I was ready to call it quits; I rode a good 75 miles that day.

I started out with a group of four and we started out about an hour late, it also didn't help that we rode 10 miles out of the way. So what's the lesson here? Be on time, actually be early and learn how to read your directions. Also an important thing I learned was to have a goal set if you are riding in a group,it's important to be on similar levels. It was my first race, so I didn't know what to expect. I learned that staying hydrated and eating throughout the race even when you weren't hungry, was important. I think I ate too much.

What I wore: bike shorts, a bike jersey, a hip bag, gloves, clip-less shoes, socks, sunglasses and a helmet.

Things I carried: cue cards, a wrench, an extra tube, a small pump, chain lube, chamois butt'r, a bike multi-tool, a seat post bag, top tube bag, frame bag, a hankie, cell phone, $$$, arm warmers, leg warmers, a camel back, a base layer, two water bottles, sunscreen, a variety of food: bananas, home made crackers, beef sticks, jerky, protein bars, shot blocks, gel, shots, electrolyte tablets and my SLR camera (which was silly, because I wasn't really able to use it). I'm sure I'm missing things on my list, since I'm just writing off the top of my head.

I had plenty of water and food and maybe things that I didn't really need. Luckily, besides the wind, it was a beautiful day, I got to bike through tons of cows and horses and beautiful scenery. I am glad that I got to experience gravel racing with friends. Thanks Robbie, June and Jamie, I had a fabulous weekend! Since I have learned so much through Almanzo, I can't wait to finish the next gravel race.

I would like to add a few things to this post, when I have a bit a update to come.

 Camped out at Forestville Mystery Cave State Park
 clean bikes

Laminated cue cards; I learned this from Loretta.
 Hot Robbie calendar shoot

 We rode a lot of fun and not so fun hills

 Ben after finishing the race
June and her dirty Surly

 My dirty bike after the race

 Sunday morning recovery

 Shit Goose

 David Smith, bird watcher

June's crazy tan line and beautiful tatts

Playing with light with Zane Spang

I met Zane Spang through my friend Dennis (from previous blog post) a couple of years ago. He was taking pictures at the Cloak Ox show at the Loring Theater and we only talked for a few short minutes and quickly he vanished. He would later come back into my life when he moved from Saint Paul to Minneapolis, which would explain why I never ran into him. I started seeing him climbing at Vertical Endeavors and we would just wave hello. 

I didn't really start hanging out with Zane until the day after the windstorm hit the town and blew many of the big trees down. We both lived in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood, so naturally we set out to explore the neighborhood with camera in hand. We spent some time biking around, climbing the fallen trees and taking snap shots of the natural disaster. That day I discovered that we had a lot more in common than I knew. We are both photographers, baristas, climbers, explorers, partiers and bikers. Ever since then we've been pretty close friends. 

I wanted to make this post about Zane because he is really cool and a really amazing photographer and a very thoughtful person. Also, sadly he is moving away from Minneapolis, so there will be a a going away party where he will be exhibiting and selling his photographs tomorrow night. That's Saturday, December 7th, come say hello and celebrate: details here. Also check out his work here: Sure Dude.

The Many Faces of Dennis Conrad

I've known Dennis for many years, we met through our mutual friend Josh. Josh was moving away to Nashville and was like, 'you have to meet my friend Dennis he's an artist, you're an artist, you'd get along really well'. I wasn't sure if he was trying to be a match maker, but some time went by and we started hanging out and became really good friends. I'm sure, I would have eventually meet him through our many similar interests, but who knows, I'm glad we met when we did. 

Dennis is a modest and out going guy. He spends a lot of time in a charming little room, which he created in his basement. It is a very colorful space, which matches his fashions. I admire him for his regular practices as an artist. He has stacks of painted canvases and stacks of sketchbooks with drawings full of faces. He has stacks of skateboards which he uses as his canvas, in fact he draws and paints on what ever he's inspired by, it just seems to spill right out of his imagination. 

Dennis has toured around the country with Martin Dosh, selling his artwork at shows and does live paintings. He has designed many posters for Dosh and other bands around town. He also has a massive record collection, so he spins records around town. Check out his work on flickr and contact him if you have any questions.

My favorite female Minneapolis tattoo artist: Ayako Junko Osaki

I don't have any tattoos, but if I were to ever get one, June is the first tattoo artist on my list. She has amazing line work and she has an interesting style. Of the many adorable creatures that she creates, she lets us view the inside and outside of the body. It's cute and edgy at the same time, just how I'd describe June.

June is a tattoo artist at 4 Points Body Gallery on Chicago Avenue S. & 38th in Minneapolis. Check out their website for more work done by her and other 4 Points Body Gallery artists.

*self inflicted tattoo*

June sketching a tattoo for Zane (below).

Nice back Ginny!

We Saved Sandstone

This weekend, I was torn between doing the Scardy Cat alley cat race or go to a benefit put on by the Minnesota Climbers Association to save Sandstone's bouldering area. It was a hard decision because dressing up in costume and racing though the city is a great time, but I had the chance to compete last year and there seems to be a race every weekend. 

This year, I did the opposite and camped out in the woods. There was much to do, but I felt relaxed for once; I am in the woods, I don't need to do anything! The day consisted of climbing, trying to walk the slack line, drinking beer, ticket raffling, hiking, meeting new climbers, hanging out by a fire, watching a movie on the rocks a pancake breakfast and of course, taking pictures. I had such a busy year that I didn't have much time to get out of town, so I'm glad I did before it got too cold. I even got to wake up to the first snow of the season and Sandstone was saved. 

If you are ever in Sandstone, and need something to nosh on, I recommend Amy's Country Cafe. They have pretty cheap eats and interesting decor.