Top 10 Days on a Bike -Part I

Sitting on the bike trainer over the last few weeks has given me a lot of time to look back on what Midge and I have accomplished over the last few years. We’ve done hundreds of short rides, dozens of long day rides, a few mini-tours, 1 major tour, and 3 randonneur rides, not to mention 2 RAGBRAI’s. “Why not make a list of my top 10 rides?”, I said to myself as sweat was dripping on the carpet, “God knows I’m not going outside today”. So, without further ado, I give you daveonabike’s Top 10 Days on a bike:

Honorable Mention Harold is Going to a RAGBRAI Party

July 27, 2010: ~100 miles from Cedar Rapids to Charles City, Ia

What Made it Great? Harold made it great. He was up for the challenge. Up for the long ride to get from home to the traveling party that is RAGBRAI. It was very humid. I sweat so much before breakfast that my blue headband’s blue dye bled out and stained my forehead and the back of my neck. But, like many bike rides, the unexpected happened. A few miles outside of Charles City we we’re flagged down by people setting up a stand alongside the road. They were from the local bar called Pete and Shorty’s. We yucked it up for a couple hours and had a few beers. That stop set the tone for the next few days on RAGBRAI.

10. My First 200k

April 16, 2010: 128 miles from Waterloo to Volga, Ia and back

What Made it Great? The challenge made it great! This was my first attempt at riding such a long distance in what I consider a short amount of time. It was hard. I rode with a strong head wind most of the trip. I learned to dig deep to get through it. I used most of the time allotted to me, but I made it. No pictures. I still haven’t been able to take pictures while on a randonneur ride. Stopping to take pictures would use up too much time.

9. Hannen Lake

June 12, 2011: 63 miles from Cedar Rapids to Hannen Lake, Ia and back.

What Made it Great? The weather was perfect and the destination was ideal. Matt and I were training for RAGBRAI and thought this trip had the right distance with the right number of hills. First time visiting Hannen Lake since my childhood. It was a bit more run-down than what I remembered, but it still brought me back to my childhood and camping out at Hannen Lake. It was a nice, peaceful day on a bike.

8. My First 300k

May 7, 2010: 93 miles (185 miles planned) from Waterloo to McGregor, Ia

What Made it Great? It was great because I found my physical limits. It was great because I pushed my limits enough that I couldn’t finish. It was great because I tried.  It was another randonneur trip without pictures, but an important ride none the less. I only made it half way through the ride. It was cold, wet and miserable. The wind was outrageous. The hills were huge. To this day, I still haven’t finish a 300km ride. This year for sure.

7. Lake Michigan Tour: Day 1 (June 6, 2009)

June 6, 2009: 104 miles from Cedar Rapids, Ia to Cassville, Wi

What Made it Great? It was one of the first times I rode in the rain all day long. But even in the cold rain, I got an unexpected boost from the small crowd watching me on the web. The words of encouragement on this blog, the text messages and the Tweets were all noticed and they helped me push through to get to the Cassville Ferry on time. The day was cold, wet and tiring. I discovered the power behind the “where is Dave” feature. I didn’t feel alone. I felt like everyone was watching and cheering me along. All that said, I learned a lesson too: going long distances loaded down with 100 lbs of gear looks easy on paper, but it’s very hard to pull off.

Any guesses what rides made it to the top 6? We’ll go through a few more next week, but until then I have to get back on my trainer.

2011-06-26 16.11.45

The Hills are Alive, Part Deux

It was a good ride. I love getting to the top of a large hill and looking over the valley. Matt had to walk a few hills, but all was well. I will do it again soon…LIVE: Sunday 6/25/20111! Follow us as we finally ride the hills of the Volga, Turkey and Mississippi River Valleys.This time there\’s no backing out. Matt (blog | twitter) and I will be leaving at 8:30am for the hour and a half trip to Volga. Look for LIVE updates starting around 10:30am by following this link. I\’ll be uploading pictures and tracking my slow trek across the steep hills of Northeastern Iowa from Volga to McGregor and back.MapMyRide.com says there are six category 5 climbs and one category 4 on the route. It may bout be the Swiss Alps, but it\’s enough to challenge this old guy. I\’ll be sending up pictures and comments from the road all day, so check in often (hit refresh to get the latest).These aye the hills that killed my chance of finishing both of my 300k rides. This time, it\’s personal.

The Route


2011-04-02 08.23.17

The Hills are Alive

LIVE! Saturday, June 18th:
Edit: Early Morning Fog and likely chance of afternoon thunderstorms convinced me to call off the ride…
I’ll be uploading pictures and tracking my slow trek across the steep hills of Northeastern Iowa from Volga to McGregor and back. If you are getting this update by email or rss reader or if you don’t see the map, click here to view the latest updates.

MapMyRide.com says there are six category 5 climbs and 1 category 4 on the route. It may not be the Swiss Alps, but it’s enough to challenge this old guy. I’ll be sending up pictures and comments from the road all day, so check in often (hit refresh to get the latest).

These are the hills that killed my chance of finishing both of my 300k rides. This time, it’s personal.
Continue reading



CarrievilleGot to thinking the other day, most of you probably don’t know Midge. Midge has been with me on every ride for the last three and a half years. Without her, I wouldn’t enjoy riding nearly as much as I do. She has never let me down, not once. She has put up with me giving up on rides when it wasn’t her fault. She’s put up with me not always giving her the attention she deserves. The least I can do is introduce her to you.

Midge came to me from WebCyclery in Bend, Oregon. I talked to Mean Todd for weeks so Midge and I would be a perfect match. Most people would recognize her Long Haul Trucker frame and a lot of the usual stuff that comes with it, but Midge is definitely one of a kind. First of all, she is the tallest of all the Surly’s at 62cm. There isn’t a lot of those out there. Her wheels are built strong, built for heavy riding, heavy loads and a heavy rider. Over 4000 miles and no broken spokes. Her wheels have stayed true without any help. Her Brooks B12 is perfectly formed to fit my rear like a…well…a glove, I guess. Her flared Randonneur style handlebars help her drops match my wide shoulders. She’s proven she can carry over 300 lbs without a complaint. But don’t let that make you think she can’t ride fast. When she isn’t loaded down, she can be quick, as long as I’m in good enough shape to help her out. Most of the time when she’s out of the house, she’s at work with me. It’s just a 16 mile ride there and back, but I look forward to every ride. Day in/day out she doesn’t care about the rain, heat, cold or even snow. She’s a hard worker and doesn’t gripe about it. She is the perfect bike.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker

When the Utility Blue Long Haul Trucker came out in the summer of 2007, they were about impossible to find. Continue reading


Impending Doom

I think we can all relate to the feeling of Impending Doom that comes when we face the unknown. Most of the time when we see doom in our future, it’s much easier to just avoid the situation all together. I’d almost argue that when we face these fears we have the greatest opportunity for the biggest accomplishments in our life. This, of course, is not a unique idea. One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, talks about it every day. Yesterday, I realized I’m slowly becoming a victim of impending doom, but I plan for this to change.

The ever constant feeling of impending doom is what I’ve felt over my last 2 rides. Actually, I foresee impending doom every time I start thinking of my 300 km ride coming up this next Saturday. But yesterday’s ride was the first time I realized that my emotions were controlling how I rode and controlled my decision to ride on or give up.

Yesterday’s ride, of course, was cold, cloudy and windy. The wind was blowing strong (25-30mph) from the West. My ride was an out-and-back and the way out was all North and East. The first time I turned East, I could fly down the road at 30mph. Hills? No problem. No worries. Instead of enjoying the feeling of practically flying down the road, I started thinking about the ride back. “If I’m going this fast now, what am I going to do on the way back when I’m tired from riding 50 miles AND I have to face this wind?”, then the thoughts of giving up started creeping in almost right away, “Once I get to the turn around point I can just get a ride home.” What a ridiculous thought, I’m only 5 miles into a 100 mile ride and I’m already planning when I’m going to give up. My fears were getting the best of me.

Last Saturday I did give up early. Again, of course, it was cold, cloudy and windy. I was almost to my turn around point and, what do you know, I came across a detour. I could either ride an extra 10 miles, refill my water bottles, turn around (into the wind) and come back…or…call for a ride home. The cold and wind filled my head with impending doom the entire ride out and the detour was the excuse I was looking for. I told myself my knee was starting to hurt, but I’m not convinced it did. I was playing head games with myself.

I really didn’t want to give up this week. If I can’t go over 50 miles a week before a 200 mile ride, I might as well not go next week. Believe me, not going on the ride next week crossed my mind many times. One side effect of these long rides is they give me a lot of time to think. I decided I needed to name my fear. I named it “Impending Doom”. Once you name something, you can get to know what it is, and what it isn’t. Every time I turned into the wind yesterday, I told myself: slow down, don’t push it, I will turn sooner or later, don’t worry about not making time, slow down, RELAX. For some reason, not pushing myself to get through those stretches faster did the trick. I’m not a fast rider to begin with, but I still seem to come well within the time limits. I need to relax.

So, what did I learn? I learned that last year’s DNF on the 300 km had more to do with Impending Doom than my physical ability. Looking back at my control card, I see that I was over 2 hours ahead of the time limit when I quit. I could have rested for an hour or so and kept on pushing before I threw in the towel. I could have gone until time actually did run out on me before calling it quits. I could have rode very slow up those big hills, keeping in mind I need to RELAX.

See you all from the road on Saturday. I’ll leave Impending Doom at home.