Keywords: gravel ride,u.p.


Gerard Vroomen - 04-May-2016
Well, it's happening. Tickets booked, rental car ready, Almanzo is on. After talking to Anne Hed yesterday, I knew I just had to go and do it no matter how underprepared I will be (although I do have faith in my 2 week training schedule, at least I won't suffer from overtraining). It will be strange going back to Almanzo for the first time since Steve Hed passed away, since he was the one who introduced me to the event. And riding our Steve Hed special edition U.P. frame will be bittersweet.

(scenes I am trying to avoid at Almanzo this year)

After my call to Anne, I talked to Andy Ording. Andy is the former owner and CEO of Zipp and although I don't see him that often (and never have), I consider him one of my good friends in the industry. It's funny how many of the people I always got along in the industry with are wheel people (maybe because they're keeping it wheel).

Aside from the trade shows, I used to see Andy once a year or so at Team CSC training camps and if we ever got stuck at one of those for too long, we'd sneak out and find a real restaurant serving real food somewhere in town. There's only so much athlete food you can eat before you go crazy, especially back in the day when these training camps were in places like Club LaSanta on Lanzarote. 

For people who've never been there, Club LaSanta is a sort of voluntary prison for athletes who don't want any distractions in the form of fun, entertainment or any normal human emotion. The rooms really are as sparse as prison cells, actually most prison cells have TVs nowadays. The first time I went there, it was for a week, and all I could do to stop myself from going insane was buy the two German opinion magazines Focus and Der Spiegel (nothing English there at the time) and read them cover to cover, twice.

Anyway, the last few years I didn't see Andy that often but at Interbike we decided we would do the Almanzo and Dirty Kanza. I don't remember why we decided this, we weren't drunk (at least I hope not, it was during show hours), but originally we thought of doing the 380 mile Alexander at Almanzo. Then sanity crept in and we decided to do the 160 mile Royal, but now it starts to look like the regular 100 miler is the smart choice.

We'll see, I've never ridden with Andy other than some short pro team training rides, but I think It'll be nice as we are both about as uncompetitive as it gets. Yesterday's conversation went something like this:

Me: "Which distance shall we do, 100 or 160 mile?"

Andy: "Whatever you want, doesn't matter to me. But if we do 100, should we tell them in advance that we switched as we registered for the 160?"

Me: "I don't think it matters, even if we switch to the 100 we'll finish behind any of the 160 mile riders so nobody will be disenfranchised" 

We just want to go out and enjoy ourselves, and I'll ponder that "100 vs 160" question during my ride tomorrow and on the weekend before deciding. The bigger question is probably "what on earth will we do at Dirty Kanza" but no point in worrying about that yet.

What is important to decide though is for anybody who lives in Eastern Kansas or neighboring Nebraska. I had promised a few months ago to hand-deliver an U.P. to a customer there because there are no OPEN retailers nearby. And then others asked for the same. So if you really want to have me hand-deliver a frameset to you, now is the time to send me a note using the contact tag on the left of the screen. So maybe see you soon!

Comments & Questions

"Keepin it wheel!" Love it. ??
Post #1 of 8. Posted by Matt on 04-May-2016 16:25:00 GMT in reply to blog [0<--641]
Well then, when are you visiting the Pacific Northwest (Portland area), which is also surprisingly devoid of Open dealers? Want to bring a frame along?
Post #2 of 8. Posted by Sspiff on 04-May-2016 16:25:19 GMT in reply to blog [0<--642]
Not sure when I will visit the Northwest, but would love to. Any rides suitable for the U.P. in November/December there? I can bring a few extra frames for sure.

Or even better, if you work with some good shops, please let us know. Of course we know some shops too, but often we follow the recommendations of our customers.
Post #4 of 8. Posted by Gerard Vroomen on 04-May-2016 17:26:10 GMT in reply to post #2 [642<--644]
We like you, Gerard, and would be depressed if you were consumed by heart congestion.
One-hundred miles of gravel is not a poor feat. However: “Failure is not an option” (US Navy SEALs).
So, how will you equip you U.P. for this occasion?
Post #3 of 8. Posted by Bengan on 04-May-2016 16:57:04 GMT in reply to blog [0<--643]
I'll post photos soon!
Post #5 of 8. Posted by Gerard Vroomen on 04-May-2016 17:27:16 GMT in reply to post #3 [643<--645]
You will love Almanzo! Especially the creek crossing which will hopefully be better than 3 years ago when riders were being swept away! Oh and there is an especially brutal, short but steep hill waiting deep into the ride, many hills! Ride well!
Post #6 of 8. Posted by John Dyste on 09-May-2016 20:46:34 GMT in reply to blog [0<--651]
Yep, I know. I was there three years ago! Looks drier this time. I've got better gearing this time around for those hills, the first time I did Almanzo I rode Thor Hushovd's Paris-Roubaix bike from 2009 with 44x27 as the smallest gear. Not good.
Post #7 of 8. Posted by Gerard Vroomen on 10-May-2016 08:24:46 GMT in reply to post #6 [651<--652]
See you there on my U.P.!
Post #8 of 8. Posted by Jarrod on 11-May-2016 19:22:37 GMT in reply to blog [0<--657]