Gravel, Rivers and Hills: My Almanzo 100 Experience

We trucked down to Rochester the night before with bikes in tow.
This past weekend I rode in the Almanzo 100 in Spring Valley, MN. All that was required was a postcard and the commitment that I'd show up. This is a completely free and unsupported Minnesota homegrown bike race. It was one of the hardest rides I've done, but by far the most rewarding. 1,300 riders and I peddled through 100 miles of gravel, dirt and hills. The conditions couldn't have been better for a ride for the books. I might have only drove down with a handful of friends, but you can't help but notice the bond between yourself and every other rider brave enough to saddle up that Saturday morning.

Chris Skogen, the mastermind behind Almanzo, kicks off the ride; photo © Craig Lindner
Having minimal experience with gravel, it took me a couple miles to get my legs used to the unique qualities of the crushed rocks. Reaching upwards of 38 miles an hour down hills that occasionally feel more like small mountains takes a couple times to get comfortable with. Starting off, I was feathering my brakes, but by the end of it the brakes were only reserved for corning.

The scenery was a very welcome bonus.
With all the rain in the days and weeks beforehand there were two welcome (for some, maybe not) obstacles — river crossings. Unfortunately, I only had the chance to navigate the first one as the second was deemed too hazardous after the first riders barely made it.

Root River Crossing from Freewheel Bike on Vimeo.

Between mile 86 and the finish line there were two hills I couldn't conquer. At first it was defeating, but it was comforting knowing I was part of a large majority making this slow trek. My goal for next year and every year after that: crush those hills!

Well, time to start making my postcard for 2014!

*Note* As a reminder, I'm riding the the MS 150. Donate to the cause by visiting my fundraising page or spread the word by sharing the link,

Winter Can't Stop Me: Prepping for the 2013 MS 150 Ride

This spring I rode through rain, wind, and yes, even snow. Fingers crossed it doesn't snow a couple of inches in May again, but even if it does I'm confident I have the wherewithal to handle it. This year I've been training on my new All-City Big Block during my daily commutes to and from work. I've also snuck in some longer rides with the Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride in Stillwater this year and the ever-present drive to bike further and harder with my Minnesota comrades. Tara has also stepped up her game with the introduction of her first geared bike, so there are bound to be plenty of Stillwater rides to indulge in the deliciousness that is Leo's Grill and Malt Shop!

Once again, all this biking has a very rewarding goal in mind — fundraising for the fight against multiple sclerosis by biking 150 miles in the annual Bike MS: C.H. Robinson Worldwide MS 150 Ride. This year I took the fight one step further and decided to recruit a team of individuals with a common goal. I've setup a team of 15 biking enthusiasts and those who are simply interested in doing some good at my new job, Periscope.

Biking is only half the battle, and I'll need everyone else's help for the rest. Donating to help my efforts won't go unnoticed as you will be helping the more than 2.1 million people dealing with MS. I hope you will also make your mark against MS by supporting my fundraising efforts.

If you’d like to keep up to date on my progress and ride updates please feel free to follow me on InstagramTwitter, or this blog.

See that snow and frozen waterfall in April? My bike doesn't care one bit.

Nick, Tara, and myself with 50 miles down and another 30 to go!
The collection of bikes Tara and I own to handle any and all situations.

MS 150 Recap: 2012

After finally going through all the photographs taken during our journey up to and during the MS 150 I've narrowed it down to a handful to give a succinct overview. Below, you'll find pictures of my second year and Tara's first year participating in the MS 150 to help raise money in an effort to fight the fight against multiple sclerosis. I'm hoping to add to these images the same time next year, and I'll be sure to keep everyone updated with that goal.

Brand new Mr. Pink (bottom) for the MS 150 and making the long commute to work
Camp is all setup for night #1. Thankfully no snow in Duluth.
One of the early stops in day #1. Not too many tired people yet.
There's only a couple thousand bikes waiting to be 150 miles.
Almost done with day #2 and still smiling!
Lunch time — clearly a couple people are hungry.
What an incredible rush to make it to this point!

Highlights of Training for the MS 150

Over the last two weeks Tara and I have biked over 240 miles in preparation for this next weekend's 150 mile bike ride to help fight multiple sclerosis. If you'd like to donate or spread the word visit my personal page here. The MS 150 ride will be from Duluth to White Bear Lake, but these are some of the places we've seen when training:

 The bikes we used to get into town while vacationing in Belize. Much different than what we're used to.

Biking through St. Paul we managed to take a break between all the hills for a quick photo.

A delicious midpoint lunch on a ride to Stillwater and back (60 miles)
I finally had the opportunity to bike to work again — on a Saturday...