Race Report: Single Speed USA (SSUSA) 2013, Winona, MN

This is a race report by “The Shred” that was previously published at Northern Plains Athletics, a site I used to run.

via Twin Six
ia Twin Six

In the spirit of SSUSA I bought a tallboy PBR before writing this race report. Keep that in mind because PBR tallboys and Miller Highlife seem to be the backbone of this race. Grand Forks, ND’s famous “Dave the Bike Guy” tricked me into signing up for SSUSA late one night, convincing me somehow that they were running out of registration spots. Without heed and following my own late New Years resolution of actively trying to mountain bike more I registered. The general description of this race is a Single Speed National Championship located in Winona MN this year. The thing is, no one really cares who wins or what place you came in or if you finished at all. And you don’t have to qualify to compete. Sure, 1st place male and female win a pretty cool handmade trophy (and so does the person who is “DFL” Dead F@!#$%^ Last), but other than a white board where someone who was still sober was able to write the names and times of the first 20 people to finish it’s more of a party than a race.
SSUSA changes locations every year and the next location is determined at the end of the race during the post race party via derby (bumper bikes), keg stands, and whatever events happen at the bar that evening.
Onto the race/party. I had a great time. Registration was an all night event at the bar, with many racers partying till last call. Bikes were everywhere. Expensive bikes were everywhere. Some were piled above my head in a stack. Dave and I stayed up late eating free popcorn and joining in on the rowdy unchained world that is SSUSA. I’m really surprised no one was arrested all weekend. Genuinely surprised.
via Dave Sears
hoto by Dave Sears

SSUSA started with tons of people in costumes, spandex, and nothing at all. It was a Le Mans start (meaning we ran to our bikes) before hitting the trails. I was on a fully rigid Redline Monocog 29er with v-brakes. The trail was 30-40 miles and gaining a total of 4,000 ft elevation. The trails in Winona were great. Some had to be connected by moderate sections of road, but I enjoyed them as a means to give my arms a rest. There were such steep uphills, that everyone ran or walked them. There were such steep and long downhills that my arms felt like Jello and for the 1-2 minutes that I was flying 20+mph down double track I had to yell at myself to hold on. This happened repeatedly. I literally thought I would destroy myself in an accident had I not held on to the brakes as tight as humanly possible. My arm muscles were so weak with fatigue trying to hold on and I kept feeling my biceps slapping on the bone they were attached to. It was a lesson of pain management and it made me jealous of everyone with a suspension fork and hydraulic brakes.
The trail had a few sag stops with more beer than water. If you thought you were going to fly through without putting one back, be prepared to be heckled, have things thrown at you and (in one case) someone with a slingshot was taking aim on racers who were “losing the race.” The beer stops were great and hydrating. My legs held up all day without cramping and after however many hours it took me to finish I was exhausted, happy, and looking for food and water.
For any of the gear heads, I was riding a 32-20 and it did me great. I could ride almost everything except for the parts where I couldn’t. I wouldn’t have picked an easier or harder gear. SSUSA revived my mountain biking appetite (as I was hoping) and I am stoked to get on any trail I can find.
I took a nap and thankfully Dave forced me to go the after party. It was at another bar downtown and featured music by a band called “DNF”. It was loud and fast, which matched pleasantly with the fireworks people were setting off inside. Students back in town for the semester would come up to our party floor, look shocked, disgusted, or incredulous that people twice their age or greater were getting wild. Again, I don’t know how I never saw any cops. I had a great weekend. I’d do it again, and I’d encourage anyone to join. Tons of great trails and tons of great people. Thanks Dave!
Here are some links:




Photo by Todd Bauer via Gearjunkie.
Photo by Todd Bauer via Gearjunkie

So Where Have I Been?

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack 
You may find yourself in another part of the world 
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile 
You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife 
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? 

– Talking Heads

It’s been a while since the last blog post, and they tell me it’s important to keep up the facade of actual work being accomplished.  So here goes.

Man, summer is busy!  We went to a wedding, bought a house, moved, got a dog, built a fence, and it’s the end of August already.  It’s been good, though.

I’m itching to officially launch a new feature when I get the time to write it all up.  It may not work the way I expect, and it requires more involvement from the Northern Plains Athletics community.  Note that I didn’t say work.  It’s not so much work as a way to build our small (but growing) regional community of athletes.

On the professional race front, I’ve been heavily involved in the backend of ENDracing.  There are more races happening this year than ever before, and my small part is to help out where I can in order to keep Andy (the race director) sane.  I’ve plugged these races enough on Twitter, so I won’t do so again here.

On the personal race front, the last race I did was the Dewey Du.  I supported a swimmer for END-WET and manned a semi-remote checkopint for END-AR.  Both took more out of me than I had anticipated, so the time has come again to pull the plug and start training in earnest again.  Cyclocross and mountain bike races approach, followed by the intent at distance fatbiking, if you get my drift.

Ted (general NPA lackey and hosting provider–go buy some Toe’ds) managed to make it to SSUSA, and I’m expecting a race report from him any day now.  Right, Ted?  We sent people far and wide from Grand Forks to race the last few weekends.  Of the cyclists, the Maah Daah Hey 100 and SSUSA called.  Of the adventure racers, END-AR24 gave them mosquito bites to be proud of.  Of the runners?  I’m sad to say that I don’t have a good connection to the local road-racing set–get in touch, guys!  Sean Cooley won at least sixty-four distinct triathlons this summer.

There are many race reports to write and be read.  If you’d like to know why I’m not the one writing them yet, read that second paragraph again.  What did you do with your summer?


Midtown Connector Bikeway

Jason Schaefer has an idea, originally posted to the Northern Star Cycling Club on Facebook:

I’d love your thoughts and feedback on this. Kind of one of those things where I have an idea, but not sure exactly what to do with it.

I have an idea for a bikeway that I think would be a wonderful recreational asset while also providing kids with a safe route to schools, parks, the library, the greenway and more. The safe routes to schools aspect could perhaps help secure some federal or state DOT funding for the project.

I’ve included a map with some details. I’m reaching out to you all in hopes that you would have some good ideas as far as the design and how to make it happen. It actually seems ripe for collaboration as it incorporates Park District, Library, Museum, Greenway and City properties.

View Midtown Connector Bikeway in a larger map
Here is a list of attributes and amenities the bikeway would connect:
1.) A bikeway designed to connect existing paths and public assets in the mid-section of Grand Forks.

2.) Upon completion, this path would connect the Greenway trail network with the English Coulee trail network.

3.) Public assets connected include:
-Lincoln Golf Course & Greenway Trailhead
-Lincoln tennis courts
-Myra Museum
-Viking Elementary School
-Cox Park
-South Washington pedestrian underpass
-GF Public Library
-Cushman Athletic Complex
-Eagles & Blue Line Arena’s
-Red River High School
-Apollo Softball/Baseball Complex
-Kraft Field
-English Coulee trail network
-Lions Park
-Century Elementary School

*NOTE: the line on this path is a general idea. Upon further study and input, a more exact route would be developed.  http://goo.gl/maps/zlhMe

Furthermore, there are a number of questions to be answered as far as the design. I would like to see this designed with children in mind, so for the sections that run along streets (23rd Ave So and 20th Ave S), I think something more than a simple striped bike lane would be necessary. Your insights on this aspect would be particularly valuable!”

Live from Purdue University–Campus Bike Stations

UND geology Ph.D candidate Ted is spending a month using some of Purdue’s fancy equipment and using a bicycle to get around.  He sent in these photos of a campus bike station, which lets anyone fill up his or her tires or fix other bicycle issues without having to own all the tools.  How cool would it to have one of these at UND, or even downtown?

Bike Lanes!

The bike lanes have been freshly painted on University Avenue where they exist, between Columbia Road and 42nd Avenue North.  Additionally, I was greeted with this wonderful sight on Tuesday on my way to a meeting at the CVB via 42nd Street North:
42nd Avenue bike lane 2013-07-30 13.08.03
Looking south on 42nd Avenue N.

The new striped bike lane starts at Gateway Drive (Route 2) and lasts until 6th Avenue N (on the east side) and aaaaaaalllmost University Avenue on the west side (this is a story for another day).  Slowly but surely, bicycles are gaining a little city-approved space on the roads in Grand Forks.