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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Fear Is The Mind Killer

I must not fear. Fear is the mind killerFear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear 
Dune, Frank Herbert (1965).


Fear to imagine.
Fear to believe.

Fear to begin.
Fear to succeed.

Fear to fail.
Fear to be.

Fear to live.
Fear to die.


I must not fear. Fear is the mind killerFear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Dune, Frank Herbert (1965).

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Real World Response - Food on the Great Divide

Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip for April 15, 2021

Over the winter and now into the spring, I have been researching and experimenting with a variety of food options to sustain the effort of pedaling for weeks along the 2,500 mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). SeeKeep It Simple - Food on the Great Divide. My latest exercise involved a 3 hour journey into a large grocery store to study every item on every shelf in every aisle, all with an eye for possible consumption during such a ride. I emerged with a smattering of new ideas and a collection of things to try.

Of course, none of this odd behavior escapes the attention of my wife, who patiently listens to all my ramblings about all things cycling. But I think I may have found even her limit when I kept yammering on about my latest exercise. Her reaction to my creative problem solving was much like that of Suzie listening to Calvin above.

I think it's time for me to step away from the research and ride. Just ride.

To be fair to the real world, this particular attempt at dinner doesn't look all that appealing.
But it's not horrible at home, which makes it downright gourmet in the field.
440 calories, 56g carb, 19g protein, 16g fat. Widely available. Easily prepared.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Riding Against The Wind

Against the wind,
I'm still running against the wind.
I'm older now,
But still running against the wind.

Against The Wind, Bob Seger (1980)

Life requires adversity. 

Over 30 years ago, a privately funded group built BioSphere 2, a three acre structure designed to study the viability of sustaining human life within an artificial, materially enclosed ecological system. In this tightly controlled environment, trees grew faster than in nature but collapsed before maturing, to the surprise and consternation of scientists. Eventually, they determined that the trees died prematurely due to lack of wind.

Scientists long understood that trees in nature are moved by winds of unpredictable and variable velocity, direction, frequency and duration. These forces stress the tree, causing it to grow "reaction" wood comprised of different chemical structures that strengthen the load bearing capacity of the tree. Over time, the reaction wood also positions the tree for protection from the wind and to receive the best resources, even if contorted into odd shapes. All trees in nature experience this, to some extent.

BioSphere 2 taught that the complete absence of wind resulted in trees growing too weak to survive long. 

So, the next time you turn your nose into the wind, know that it's not only making you a stronger cyclist. It's offering you the opportunity to be a cyclist.

Life requires adversity.

Against The Wind, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, live (1980)

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Black Hills Gravel Series - Season 5!

Right here, right now.
There is no other place I want to be.
Right Here, Right Now, Mike Edwards (1990)

Grass roots gravel at its finest. And it's right here, right now.

The Black Hills Gravel Series returns for Season 5, with a full slate of free rides this spring on Saturdays April 10, April 24, May 8, and May 22. More information is on and the FaceBook group Black Hills Gravel FB Group. Sign up at BH Gravel Series Signup.

Lucas Haan, out in the Hills, leading a group through some chunky gravel.

Lucas Haan, the force of nature behind the Black Hills Gravel Series, meticulously creates each unique, back country route, provides gpx files and cue sheets for self-navigation, and offers the empowering opportunity to ride self-supported. All of this free of entry fees, elitism, and pomposity. Just show up with most any bike, wearing most anything weather appropriate, and ride. Everyone is welcomed.

To be more accurate, at each ride, three courses will be offered, increasing in length and difficulty. They're named by color:  Green (10-20 miles, moderate elevation gain), Blue (20-30+ miles, moderately more elevation gain and difficulty), and Black (50+ miles, significantly more elevation gain and difficulty, likely with an added challenge). There truly is a course for every level of ability, experience, and ambition.

Sturgis 2017 - the first ride of the first season of the Black Hills Gravel Series!

This year, the Black Hills Gravel Series will not have a Group Start at a specific time. Instead, on the scheduled date, Lucas will be at the Start/Finish area from 7:30 am to 9:30 am to answer questions, talk you through the route, and to receive waivers, if you haven't electronically sent one to him. Start on your own at your own time, solo or in your group.

Lucas generally posts updated information on the FaceBook group Black Hills Gravel, but the best way to stay informed is to sign up in advance for the Series. Lucas then will send you timely emails, including waivers, gpx files, and cue sheets for each route. So, you just show up and ride.

Hill City 2018 - cyclists of all kinds ride into the back country at the Black Hills Gravel Series.

The Black Hills Gravel Series started in 2017 when Lucas created routes from 6 different start locations on 6 consecutive weekends. Folks showed up. Word got around. More folks kept showing up. See, A Six Course Feast. And it just keeps getting bigger and better.

The popularity and growth of these rides has not been fueled by local racers chasing prizes or enthusiasts chasing the latest trends. And it certainly has not been fueled by big production starts, finishes, celebrities, or awards, since there are none of the above. The Black Hills Gravel Series is simply a spring challenge to ride some unique back roads with like-minded folks in a low-key, social environment. And you know that the routes will be fun. Every one.

Spearfish 2019 - about 200 cyclists stream onto gravel at the Black Hills Gravel Series.

Enjoy these rides. Bring your family. Invite your friends. Be a part of our Black Hills cycling community. 

And thank Lucas for his tireless work to make it all happen. Again. Now, for the fifth year.

Piedmont 2020 - South Dakota social distancing at the Black Hills Gravel Series.

This is the place. Now is the time.

Right Here, Right Now, Jesus Jones (1990)

Friday, April 2, 2021

Keep It Simple - Food on the Great Divide

And be a simple kind of man,
Oh, be something you love and understand.
Simple Man, Gary Rossington & Ronnie Von Zant (1973) 

Sometimes, an answer arrives that is so simple, so elegant, so obvious, that you simply shake your head in disbelief. Really? That's it? How hard was that?

It's always easy to see it afterwards.

I've been deep into analyzing the caloric quandary for an undertaking such as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. How will I obtain, carry, and consume enough calories to sustain the effort of pedaling 50-70 miles and 4,000-6,000 feet of elevation gain on remote, rough roads every day for weeks? 

How much to rely on towns along the way? How much to carry? What kind of food to carry? Where to resupply? What food is even likely to be available? How does this work?

To further complicate things, the demands on carried food are high for such an endeavor. High in nutritional value. High in calories. Low in weight. Low in volume. Slow to spoil despite wide swings of temperature. Able to survive rough transport. Available at remote outposts. And even though I have the taste buds of a buffalo, it must taste at least OK.

I eventually realize that there are no easy answers to that quandary. There are too many variables stacked up over too much time. So, rather than a specific, structured schedule, I need to develop an approach.

Table for one. Anytime of day. Anywhere.

Here's the beginning of my approach. Each day, know what's ahead on the route and seize opportunities to eat during the day's ride. That is, eat in town what you can, when you can. For food on the fly and for those occasional 2-3 day stretches between towns, I'll identify some go-to foods to carry, recognize opportunities to re-supply, and stay flexible to carry what's available. 

On the first day of the ride, I'll carry my typical assortment of energy bars, gels, jerky and Peanut M&M's, along with some electrolyte drink and tablets. But it will only be a 2-3 day supply that must be replenished regularly at convenience stores and general stores along the way. That should be pretty straightforward. The bigger issue is obtaining more substantial food, both for meals on the fly and in between towns.

So, I need to develop a menu of go-to meals to carry. Ok, here's my simple, elegant, obvious start of such a list. Tortillas, peanut butter, and honey. Here's the result of an admittedly lengthy trip to a local grocery store.

Mission Tortilla Caseras, 12 count, 28 ounces, 2280 calories, $2.49
Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, 12 servings, 16 ounces, 2,470 calories, $2.89
Nature Nate's Raw Unfiltered Honey, 12 servings, 12 ounces, 970 calories, $5.49

Total for 12 servings = 56 ounces, 5,720 calories, $10.87

Each serving = 4.7 ounces, 477 calories, $0.91

That's a lot of hard working, portable calories in a small, readily available, convenient, inexpensive package. And I like it. I see this PB&H tortilla as a regular snack or light lunch, maybe eating 1 or 2 servings a day, when available. In a pinch, two servings could also serve as dinner, maybe with a hot chocolate chaser. I also see substituting the honey with local jams found along the way.

None of this is ground-breaking or game-changing. And it's not the only item that needs to be on my go-to menu. It's just a solid pedal stroke at the beginning of a long ride.

Keep it simple. Lynyrd Skynyrd shows how it's done.

Simple Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)