The Miesville Grinder

My friend Ross discovered a free gravel ride just out of the city and wanted to see what that scene is all about. He invited me and I figured the price was right and the drive was short. Sunday morning we drove down to Hastings for the Miesville Grinder, a 56 mile route looping around on the nicest local gravel roads. It was really pleasant. These roads are amazingly quiet compared to what I ride on here in the city. That is refreshing. The route was very tame except for one brief rough section. I prefer tame riding because I am timid about technical stuff.

The whole group, one or two hundred I think, rolled out together and Ross and I made our way to the back of the front group. I haven’t done much group riding at all since bike racing back in college and it was interesting to have the accelerations to get back in the draft after a corner. Being at the back of the group you have to accelerate much harder out of corners, or at least I do. We kept up with the surging and slowing of the bunch for the first hour and a half or so. It was fun to ‘play’ on the bike again with the surges since I do very little of that riding alone or with just one partner. After a while we let the group go on ahead and rode a more relaxed pace for the second half. We rode a while with a guy on a fat bike – he was working hard but keeping up a solid pace! We got to chatting and of course he works down at QBP. I have two athletes who work for QBP and this guy only knew one of them. Talk to any QBP employee at any time and they’ll tell you about a bike they’re thinking of ordering or a bike that they have on the way. This guy, Steve, was about to get a Salsa Warbird. QPB definitely makes it easy for their employees to get on two wheels. QBP is a local Minnesota company. It is a really exciting time because their brands Salsa and Surly are the industry leaders when it comes to fat bikes and fat bikes could not be more hot right now.

Anyways the ride ended up being more pleasant for me than for Ross. He didn’t pack enough snacks and only had one front chainring on his bike! Trying to climb in a big ring while bonked is not so fun, apparently. I, being a natural philanthropist, shared some of my Market Pantry fruit snacks. Pro secret: fruit snacks are a super cheap way to get easy to digest carbs. And I’m pretty sure cavemen and cavewomen ate fruit snacks so they’re totally 100% Paleo-approved. I actually was less dirty finishing 56 miles on gravel than after some of my road rides. Recently the roads have been dry but the bike paths have water sitting on them so I get filthy in a hurry. I am interested to see if I can integrate gravel roads into my regular training. This is a very tempting option right now since it is so hard to find quiet, uninterrupted places to ride around town. Cars and stop lights and signs really drain the run out of riding.

Unfortunately Ross and I took absolutely no pictures of our little adventure so there is no way of knowing if it even really happened.

PSA: The first spring races are coming up shortly. Get your bike off the trainer and out to Gear West Bike so they can undue all the damage your cascades of sweat have caused this winter. Tell them I sent you as you hand over your sweat stained tri bike to the mechanic for a tune up. Make sure to look them in the eye as they touch the slimy, gritty mix of your stale perspiration and spilled sports drink. 

Thanks again to everyone who voiced their support for the #PRSIX4DP campaign. I’m not sure if my main man at QR Mac will ever speak to me again after everyone tweeted directly to him but hopefully he recovers and sends over a PR6. I will let you know if he needs more of your convincing tweets. QR put a PR6 ad in USAT’s magazine and I couldn’t resist taking a picture of that ad on top of my own banner. So prepare to be double-advertised to:

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Enjoy spring! 

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Make Your Voice Heard

Twitter Campaign

Quintana Roo launched their new and astounding superbike the PR6 last week. Almost immediately the #PRSIX4DP twitter campaign spontaneously erupted. The people were crying out for QR to send me a PR6 post haste. The people really made their voice heard on this issue. Literally tens of triathletes made the campaign an instant success. The great news is there is still time for you to join the movement. Get on Twitter and let QR know how much you want me to ride a PR6 by sending this tweet, you can even include the photo if you know how:

@MacMcE @quintanarootri  Pretty please put @dpalmertri on a PRsix ASAP #PRSIX4DP #itspersonal

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Feel free to put your own personal touches on it. For all of us who race for QR, triathlon is personal and your participation in this movement should be personal as well. Why? Why is this such an important cause? LOOK AT THAT BIKE! What could be more important? I believe everyone deserves a bike as great as the PR6. But hey, that’s just my opinion. 

Season Opener

We’re only weeks away from the season! I’m kicking off at the Falls Duathlon. If you’re looking for a fun and low key local race to get your season started, look no further. After that it is all about the Gear West Duathlon. My best friend Steve Stenzel and I had a pretty intense competition in the relay event last year but this year I’m racing solo. Wishing Steve the best of luck! If you don’t know Steve you should get to know him. If you see a brightly-colored speedo-clad hobbit at a race, that’s Steve. Go up and say hi. Tell him how cool he looks. Tell him he must be the most athletic hobbit in the Shire. Tell him I sent you. Gosh we’re great friends.

My training has been very different this year and I’m eager to see what the results are. I’d say it’s better but training can’t be really judged until you race so we’ll have to wait and see.

The Weather

What would a blog post be without some discussion of the weather. The snow last week made me sad. But then by Sunday I rode four hours on mostly dry roads in shorts. Oh Minnesota. Such a dynamic place in the spring. Get yourself off the trainer and outside to ride! 

Brandon Marsh

Brandon Marsh is a pro from Texas. I’d like to think we are friends, specifically online-only friends. He is offensively sensible when he writes things about our sport. Cool stuff. As a bonus his awesome wife Amy has won a bunch of Ironmans and is a Gopher Alumni! So he obviously has good taste. Brandon is essentially wrapping up his pro career (this year or soon I believe) and is looking for a professional win. He had a huge breakout last year with 2nd at the North American Ironman Championships in Mt Tremblant. But as we all know 2nd is not 1st and it never will be unless later on 1st gets disqualified for using drugs or something. Anyways, this year Brandon stated he is really in the hunt to get a win. And I salute him for that. At Texas 70.3 yesterday he put himself in position to win. Great swim, at the front on the bike, ran well. He actually took the lead mid way through the run and was definitely in it to win it but he was gunned down in the last mile by 70.3 master Richie Cunningham. Richie has been on fire the last few years, he also has been on a quest to win rather than just placing. Richie spent a decade or more getting 2nd in 70.3s behind Craig Alexander and in the final years of his career he is determined to take wins. It is great to see these guys adopt a winning attitude. It shows in races whether you’re racing to win or to place. Plenty of people have the tools to win but it takes another level of confidence and focus to go out and make it happen. Keep an eye out for Mr Marsh this season. He’s on a mission.

Have a great week! #PRSIX4DP

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Danger Zone + The new QR PR6 + Twitter Campaign

Zone of Danger

It was incredibly pleasant yesterday and I rode four wonderful hours outdoors. I’m basically out of viable Netflix streaming movies to watch so the basement riding is becoming a struggle. If you found any hidden gems recently please let me know via comment or tweet. As for riding outside these days, we are in the danger zone. The roads have sand and salt and debris all over. The potholes are huge and hungry. The drivers aren’t looking for us yet. The bike trails have some ice patches left in random spots and are usually much more wet than the roads. The paths are also super popular these days since everyone is out taking advantage of the weather. Walkers, runners, dogs, all sorts of people going very different speeds with different ideas of where to be on the path. Also there are huge flooded spots. All this adds up to danger! Be careful out there. Pick smart routes. If you are in the cities ride straight out of town and avoid the paths on weekends. It was terrifying riding on the Greenway and Cedar Lake trail yesterday. Avoid this zone of danger and head for quieter roads.

New Quintana Roo Superbike: The PR6

There was lots of good news from QR this week. First, they are the bike course sponsor for Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Chattanooga starting in 2015. I’m racing Chattanooga this year and have had my eye on Lake Placid for a while. This will be just another reason to race there in 2015, I also have a twitter friend pressuring me to race so this will be good.

The other news is that QR launched the PR6 at the California 70.3. It looks great. If you can stay awake through dan empfield’s heavy prose check out what he says about the PR6 here. Have another cup of coffee and try reading the article. QR has always been at the front of the field for tri specific bikes and the PR6 is built with stack and reach in mind so it will be easier for Gear West Bike to put you on just the right size and fit you perfectly. Yes that was a bit of a double sponsor plug. No apologies. The bike does look really good, it is built to fit triathletes right, and it is stiff and aero and light. All good things.

I’m going to be particularly nice to Mac, my main man at QR, and maybe he’ll send me one! If you are on twitter and want to do me a solid PLEASE tweet this special message:

@MacMcE @quintanarootri  Please put @dpalmertri on a PRsix ASAP #PRSIX4DP

We all know in this day and age you can get whatever you want if you have enough people tweet it and I think this is truly a campaign we can all get behind. #PRSIX4DP

Just look at this thing!

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Have a great week and ride safe. Remember #PRSIX4DP

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Ironman Melbourne & Local Race News

Championship Ironman: Melbourne

Melbourne looked like a real championship race on the men’s side but not for the women. Steffen and Ellis got off the front right away on the bike and the race was over. There was no real ‘front group’. Those two just shredded the field and that was it. The women’s field was not deep at all for some reason. The men’s field was really deep with several legit top tier guys contending to win.

The men’s race was interesting but also a little boring. It was interesting because, by my count, four different guys lead at different points on the run. That is good race! Zeebroek led for a while by transitioning faster than Dellow. Dellow ran him down and took the lead. Paul Matthews took it out really fast and ran his way to the front moving by Dellow, at around the time I went to bed. I woke up to find Dirk Bockel had eventually moved to the front. So the run was dynamic. The bike was a little boring in that it was just a few guys, mostly Dellow and Zeebroek, pulling the group along and waiting for the weaker bikers to fall off the pace. With a lead group of eleven on a flat course many guys got towed along the first lap and then got dropped on lap two. I was interested to see Philip Graves get dropped, he won an Ironman with an insane bike split back when he was only 20 , and these days he’s getting dropped on the bike. Even Bockel lost a little time late on the bike. I was also surprised Vanhoenacker didn’t bridge up to the front group. He lost a few minutes out of the water and I figured he’d catch up on the ride. He moved through the field as guys were getting tired but never got to the lead. The swim matters in these championship races! Don’t get dropped! Even Vanhoenacker can’t make up time when other guys are riding hard. So the run was interesting the bike a little dull. I always like to see a breakaway or vicious attacks!

I thought Bockel’s race was much like Van Lierde’s at Kona last year. Smart and consistent all day and being at the front when it counts, at the finish. I wrongly assumed Bockel was out of it early in the run when other guys were ahead of him and more guys like Matthews were running by him. It takes serious strength and confidence to stay focused and race smart when guys are making moves all around you. Even at that level it is still an Ironman and you have to respect your own limits. Matthews rushed his way to the front on the run and paid for the pace. Bockel kept on task and finished the strongest. What a performance.

It was nice to see live updates, some video coverage, and have the athlete tracker. I did not listen to much of the commentary, once I hear ‘they’re doing a great job of it’ from Greg Welch once that is enough sound for the day. The video coverage during the bike seemed a little spotty as if they weren’t able to get a moto with a cameraman on the course. At least as far as I saw they mostly featured the lovely face of commentator Welch. They brought in old Luke Bell for some color commentary. And that color was beige. Absurdly, astoundingly and almost alarmingly dull. Video coverage of Matt Lieto checking twitter at the race would have been 100% more interesting. There was video of the run. Ironman seems to have made the decision not to talk about Mr Humanplasma, Mr Former Mountainbiking Olympian and Doper, Michi Weiss. Mr Humanplasma was there and was gradually working his way through the field on the bike and then run but I didn’t hear anything about him. GOOD! I give him attention here but only to help inform triathletes of his history as a doping doper. I was grateful Ironman offered coverage of the race but I also felt obliged to make jokes criticizing their coverage on twitter. The summer championship Ironmans will be Frankfurt in July and Mt Tremblant in August.

Local Races

I’m kicking off the 2014 season at the Falls Duathlon again this year. I haven’t sorted out all my local races yet but I know I will be joining Final Stretch for the Falls Du at the end of April and Rochesterfest in June. Falls Du has been a fun, low key way to start the season for the last two years. I love that the first run is only two miles and that both runs are totally different courses. Falls Du was my first du win ever and also my first race on my QR CD0.1 in 2013. I’m glad to learn Final Stretch will be putting on the Lake Waconia Tri at the end of June. I was worried the race was going to fade away but they will keep it going strong. There may be a chance for you to do a relay with me there! There will be shenanigans at all these local races, more announcements closer to each date. Please leave a comment if you are interested in joining a relay team for Waconia.

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The Gear West Bike team swept the podium at the Falls Du in 2013

Not The Real Starky

Last Thursday I revealed that I’m The Real Starky. As it happens, I’m not The Real Starky, but boy did I ever think I was. On Twitter I was quite adamant that whole day, just yelling and yelling as all these other people claimed to be The Real Starky. I guess we are all The Real Starky, or some crap like that, but I still think there is a chance it’s just me.

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I am The Real Starky

I am The Real Starky. My frustration with the malarkey in our sport became overwhelming. So many people, so full of it. What could I, a humble Minnesotan do to combat this surplus of BS? Last fall I found the answer.  Everyone knows Andrew Starykowicz is the most straight talking man in the sport. He is a guy who says what he means. His clear-cut, gruff style was a breath of fresh, angry air. I wanted to pay tribute to this American Hero while at the same time shouting at some dummies on the internet. That is exactly what I did.

Once my mission was underway I realized some of the dummies online weren’t quite grasping what was going on. I needed a way to explain The Real Starky so even the simplest of online ogres could understand. The Real Starky needed to do an interview. I, Devon Palmer, humble Minnesotan, wrote the questions and the answers to the infamous Slowtwitch interview. Who else but me, the creator of The Real Starky, could ask the right questions? No one. Who but me could delve into the complexities of the character I’d created? I’m not proud to have interviewed myself but I did it for the betterment of the sport.

Have some of my jokes been crude? Sure. Have some feelings been hurt along the way? Probably.  Do I feel bad for making fun of some of the biggest names in our sport? Not really. Am I grateful to the bold American Hero Andrew Starykowicz? Absolutely.  Do I apologize for offending anyone? No. I leave the apologizing to the Canadians. So that’s it. Mystery over. I’m The Real Starky and I’m proud of it. If and when I make fun of you, possibly in all caps, keep in mind you deserved it before you get all weepy or litigious. 

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Texas Trip: Riding Review

I have done several spring break bike trips in the past. Twice with the U of M cycling team to Fayetteville Arkansas in 07 and 08, once to Fredericksburg with my friend Jorgen and my parents in 09 also with that group to Escondido California in 2010. Most of the time I ran once or twice, maybe swam once, and usually rode a little too much and a little too aggressively and had a tweaked knee by the middle of the week. This time I toned the riding down a bit. Not much hammering at all, mostly easy and steady riding except for the last couple days. My miles were nothing remarkable. However, I was able to have one good swim, ran four times, didn’t get hurt or sick, and am back to normal training here at home without undue fatigue.

Saturday: 1213 miles, 18 hours 30 minutes starting at 3:06 AM. Sam unleashed an improbably long series of farts. After the original fart, sequel after sequel burst forth from his innards. The roads were clear and dry through Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas but then we had a vicious snowstorm in Oklahoma. Otherwise uneventful.

Sunday: 33.1 miles, 1414 feet of climbing. Felt terrible. Very sluggish and awkward on the bike. Took over ten miles to feel half-way normal. I didn’t have my powertap so the only real info is distance and feet climbing from Strava. The pace on rides was not fast so I didn’t worry much about that.

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Future champion. Of something. Amateur athlete, pro level crop duster.

Monday: 68.6 miles, 3836 feet climbing. To the small town of Harper and back. Talked to some other Minnesotans while we stopped for snacks (Twinkies) in Harper. Very nice ride. Felt much more normal on the bike. Short run after.

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Tuesday: 32.8 miles, 1015 feet climbing. Short run after with strides. Short swim, main set 3×300 strong pull+paddles. 27th birthday.

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Wednesday: 35.9 miles, 1818 feet climbing. Very, very windy. Stopped for lunch. It was delicious – accompanied by two cups of coffee and one beer. Short run after.

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Lunch of champions at Hill Top Cafe

Thursday: 110 miles, 6555 feet climbing. Incredible route starting in Bandera, an hour from Fredericksburg. Very slow riding because the roads were a coarse surface and there were tons of small hills and several good climbs. Unbelievably scenic. This ride is worth the whole trip on it’s own. Sam didn’t want to ride more than 80 miles so I had to use all my charisma to convince him to ride this long. The small towns are well placed every 20ish miles and we were very careful to stay on top of our calories. I really did not want Sam bonking and turning into a useless pudding sack late in the ride. We made it through fine. I really enjoyed the climbs and Sam had way too much fun on the descents.

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Friday: 43.1 miles, 1799 feet climbing. Another windy day. Our route took us just over 20 miles into the wind. It was exhausting. The way home was smooth sailing. This was the first day I was tired and a little cranky on the bike. The ride ended up taking way longer than planned and Sam and I were both falling apart coming back into town. At the midway point we stopped at a park to see a tunnel where millions of bats live. It was neat. Afterwards had a few snacks and a short run.

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My first panorama photo!

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Bat Tunnel

Saturday: 1213 miles, 18 hours. 2:32 AM start. First few hours were absolutely terrifying as deer were out and about everywhere. After we got to larger highways it was ok but we were on constant alert through 5 AM or so. All the locals had massive brush guards on their trucks and seeing the deer out made it clear why. From there things went smoothly until we got hit with another snowstorm in our second to last state. This time we passed through the snowstorm coming out of Des Moines. I’m not saying Iowa is lousy good for nothing state because of this incident, it just so happens this incident happened in the lousy good for nothing state of Iowa. No disrespect.

Overall it was a great trip. I’m really happy with how Sam and I managed the difference in our fitness. Obviously as a pro I get to train more. If he had a big ego and tried to ride next to me all the time and keep up on all the climbs he would have blown up pretty fast. Into the wind he just tucked in my draft and saved energy. He paced himself appropriately on all the climbs. He went straight to nap instead of coming out for the runs. Keeping the ego in check got him through all the miles safely with no illness or injury. My parents and their friends also had a great week of riding though they did miss the best parts of the Bandera ride. Fredericksburg is tough to beat for spring training.

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Have a great week! Spring is sort of here!

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Texas Trip

I’m riding in Texas this week. Staying just outside Austin in Fredericksburg. Lots of great routes out of here. The town is quite nice. Very German. 

Sam and I drove down on Saturday. My parents and a couple of their friends are also here to ride. They flew and we brought the bikes. We left at three in the morning and got here around nine thirty. The only time we got bad weather was a snowstorm in Oklahoma. Our ride the day after the drive was not good. Combining the sluggishness coming off the 16 hour drive with the lousy feeling of the first outdoor ride made the first ten miles really depressing. Thankfully today felt fine, if not pretty good! The mornings have started fairly cool, just under fifty, but warm up to a pretty pleasant riding temperature. Normally I’d be shivering and full of complaints riding in fifty degree weather but coming off winter it feels really warm.

We’ve already chatted with a few other Minnesotans down here to get a head start on their spring riding. I think I talked a guy into racing the Chisago sprint!

What is it like driving across the country in a car with Sam, you are probably wondering. Let me tell you the most pertinent fact: Sam is a industrial grade fart factory. That guy really has remarkable output. Sam’s flatulence during the trip earned him KOM for that segment on Strava, so hats off to him for that. I’ve been on road trips with many people and I can assure you none of them perform at the same level as Sam. He is truly an elite athlete at the top of his game. Speaking of Strava, since I finally got a smarts phone I joined Strava. I am killing it so far, in that I remembered to use if for both rides. Winning.

If you don’t know who I’m talking about, here is a picture of Sam and I:

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And here is a picture of Sam casually eating a snack:

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Anyways, that’s who I’m riding with all week.

 

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