Thursday, May 20, 2010

Skogen and the Almanzo...Five Stars, highly recommended!

The Almanzo did not disappoint. Chris Skogen’s effort sets a high standard. Regarding the race per se, most speculators in the know, figured that it was the Eppen’s race to lose with former two-time Champ, Jesse Rients, in the hunt followed by the strong contingency from Iowa (including Jim Cochran), and Joe Meiser of Trans-Iowa and GDR fame. The end result therefore was predictable with the only surprise being that Jesse ran out of gas fairly early in the event. Cochran got second and Joe M was 4th...Something like the top 15 all rode the 100 miles in less than six hours. The tandem did it in ~5:15!!! The author rode it in 5:36 (which is the fastest ever for the aged one)

The pace was fast from the get-go with lots of surges and yet the pack was jovial and good natured. Apparently there was a big crash not far from the start, but I was not privy to it. One fun moment included Ms. Eppen taking pics of the group’s antics from the back of the tandem.

There was a big group of us, maybe 20 or 30 or even more riding fast, but not furious, with mostly the tandem leading out in impressive manner...The big break happened probably between 35 to 40 miles into it...Amazingly it happened on a long easy descent with the Tandem flying away with only two or three guyz able to hang on to their wheel, whilst the rest of us could not hold the pace. Soon thereafter, the second round of cuts came on a hard climb where three or four guyz rode away, including Meiser, Troy Krause and Corey Godfrey; gapping the rest of us and giving what appeared from the back-row, a concerted and coordinated effort to regain the leaders. It is noteworthy to comment on the very stylish kits modeled by the very cool guyz from Nebraska, namely Krause and Godfrey. I did see it happening and yet got caught in the back row too far to attempt to stay with the workhorse Mesier as was my plan. Once up and over the climb, I ceremoniously tried to give a solo chase, but could not do it, so I fell back and tried to recover a bit in hopes of rescue from a fast and motivated chase group that I could see was close behind....Eventually I did become part of a second chase group of about six or seven...This group, including the most amicable, Michael Dietzman, came into the sixty mile checkpoint about nine minutes behind the first chase group and a good fifteen minutes behind the leaders.

Leaving the checkpoint, three of us tried to gap the rest of the group and we did so, but the one guy, a real nice young fellow just back from Cambridge (UK), on a black Masi, was too strong on the hills, so we cut him loose bidding him, “Godspeed!”

Then the terrain flattened out and I started to revive a I took off trying to catch him....I was on his tail heading across the river crossing and then he was gone? Later I found out that he took a wrong turn...So it goes...Anyway I finished strong and lucked into a tenth place finish, as several faster guyz had some bad luck. Kudos to Krause for a great effort. I am sure that Corey would have been up there as well, but he suffered a flat. ...In sum: tandem was very fast, impressively fast, scary fast—especially on the descents. Great race put on by a great proponent of grass roots racing. Highly highly recommended!!!


  1. Was there a tandem category, open and singlespeed or was it just one all together?? Seems like a tandem with two strong riders would always win.

  2. I came in a few HOURS later, but enjoyed it just the same. Fantastic event and a great promoter. It was interesting to read about what was going on up front, so thanks for the write-up.

  3. Charlie! Great seeing you again last weekend. Also great job at the race. Looks like you had a strong finish.

    That sure was hilly, but really beautiful. That was my first Minnesota gravel experience and it'll be hard to top.

    Good luck with the rest of your adventures this year!

    Take care,