Dave Bucklin

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetThe Almanzo 100 : 10 Thoughts, Observations, Recollections

1. There were four (4) great dogs on this year’s jaunt around Spring Vally, MN. They are as follows :

A(1) – The yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula. This dog enjoyed licking legs, head scratches and general crotch sniffing.

B(2) – The black mutt that accompanied the yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula. This dog enjoyed occasionally scolding the yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula for gluttonous crotch sniffing.

C(3) – The dog known as Seamus. This dog is the unofficial official team dog of the best unofficial official team in the business – Team Radish. Seamus enjoys ear scritches and the occasional howl.

D(4) – The black lab hanging out in the middle of a gravel turn off. This dog enjoys sitting in a regal position and judging those who are stupid enough to be trying to ride a bike in this god forsaken land.

2. The worst vanilla malt in my life was had the evening before the 2014 edition of the Almanzo 100.

3. Acts of Kindness (In no particular order) :

A – Megan Barr provided a lovely yellow banana at the start line. I owe her at least five (5) bananas for this most generous act.

B- Michael Mason for providing a draft out of Forestville State Park, some of the best high fives ever and tunes like this one (or this one) blasting out of his back right pocket.

C – Jeffrey Zaayer and the MORBID Meat-Up for one (1) hotdog and one (1) MORBID sticker (to be applied to the top-tube and the top-tube ONLY)

D – David Bucklin for providing a steady wheel and levity to an altogether grave situation.

E – Trevor Murphy for providing a welcome draft and sexy to an altogether grave situation.

F – David Peterson for providing a lift, introducing me to the Wu-Tang Clan and waiting around while my broken ass made it’s way back to the parked car.

4. No bike computer. It was nice this way.

5. Salt-N-Pepa – Push It

6. What does it mean when a professional cyclocross team shows up at a free gravel race in the middle of nowhere?

7. The feeling of both tires losing traction. Repeatedly. And having it all under control. I love you, Panaracer.

8. The feeling of not knowing where everyone fit in the cycling spectrum. Please circle the descriptor below which most accurately describes your reason for attendance –

A – Roadie/Cyclocrossist

B – Enduro/Rad Masochist

C – Alternate Terrain Enthusiast

D – 32c Nihilist

9. Swedish Fish once again played a prominent role in my efforts. Trevor Murphy stated (accurately) that red was the best flavor. Then we mulled over the creation of the others and decided it was madness.

10. The climb out of the creek crossing was magnificent. Having missed this last year, it was a treat for the senses and an experience that will stay with me for a long time. I will return to better my time, as is necessitated by my limited definition of growth, but that moment made the ride alone. A glimpse of another reason to ride my bicycle, perhaps.

But for now, I will still be the guy sprinting for 764th place.

Mr. Skogen, as always, I thank you for a wonderful event.

Viva El Manzo!

Butter cakes and a double shot should be a requirement before every ride. Taco Johns is a horrible mid-ride stop. Trails in central Minnesota can – and will – disappear without warning. No matter how tired you are, you can always dig a little bit to get that town sign sprint. If you talk about it enough, your tire will eventually flat.

These lessons and more defined the second Ox Yoke 124. Yet again, we headed out for Hutchinson via the Luce Line and spent a hot Summer’s day getting back. Yet again, Ox Yoke followed the Almanzo’s lead and stayed with much the same weather. Hot and Dusty were to be the modus operandi for the day’s effort. Next year, we’ll return to the early season ‘prep ride’ that the Ox Yoke works so well as and leave the biting flies and dusty trails for others, I think. I betcha my Mom will bring cookies again too. 

A big thanks to Dave Bucklin, Ken Early, John Hoch and Randall Dietel for coming out and taking part. 

I’m pretty sure we hit around 124, right? 

If not, it’s good enough for me. 

– MM

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Here at the Musette we acknowledge that eventually you’ll have to get off the bicycle. Heck, you’re probably off of it right now. In lieu of this, we’ve decided to create a guide as to where you should sit you rear down in the event that it can’t sit on a saddle. First up is a favorite of Mr. Dave Bucklin’s – Sip. Enjoy! – MM

Dave Bucklin

“There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.”

Nestled into the old Grain Belt brewery complex in Northeast Minneapolis is Sip Coffeebar. Owners Rachel George and Gretchen Bierbaum have been serving up locally-roasted coffee, smoothies, baked goods, soups, sandwiches, wraps, salads and more since 2004. Unless you work at or frequent one of the surrounding businesses, or just like the view, there’s no obvious reason to take 13th Avenue NE West of Marshall. That said, the food and drink at Sip is reason enough to cross the tracks. I asked Rachel about the challenge of their out-of-the-way location. “The main thing is good signage,” she says.

Approaching the exterior is a surreal experience. The contrast between its sleek and modern facade and the surrounding industrial park gives one the feeling of looking upon a mirage. Get close enough to their front door and a cryptic message comes into view.

SATURDAY 8:00 – 2:00

WEEKDAYS 6:30 – 8:00

The modern look carries through to the interior. Minimalist chairs line the walls. Lights, like an inverted flower garden, hang from the ceiling. Two couches provide cozier accommodation for lengthier stays. Tables are just big enough for a laptop and your coffee. If you’re self-conscious in your Lycra, there are few places to hide, here.

A classic bakery case shows off an impressive array of sandwiches and salads. Rachel tells me, “We make everything from scratch. Everything.” For me, there are few better ways to cap off a Saturday morning ride than with an espresso and a brownie — or a pastry. Anything made solely from sugar and butter, more or less. Maybe I should try the oatmeal. If your coffee stop turns into lunch, their sandwiches offer the protein you’re after.

Places to lock up are sparse, so be prepared to get creative if you plan to show up with a large group. Free Wi-Fi is available to facilitate a quick Facebook check-in. A bike shop, Behind Bars, is just a few blocks away in case you are in need of a spare tube (or a new ride).  As it’s located in the Northeast Arts District, Sip Coffeebar also offers a pleasant respite during that impromptu art crawl.

In a café landscape where the log cabin look rules, Sip is a refreshing exception. If you like coffee, and I think you do, it’s worth a visit. If nothing else, follow them on Twitter so you can see what you’re missing. Rachel tells me that they may be serving wine and beer in the future, making for even more potables to sip at Sip.

Sip Coffeebar

34 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis

Dave Bucklin

When riding the corn-lined byways of the countryside, one inevitably observes the flotsam and jetsam of the road. Soda bottles, beer cans, and crumpled food containers dominate this landscape. An endless parade of smiling plastic bags thanking you and wishing you a nice day. It’s no surprise to find an unmatched shoe, a child’s toy or a magazine. One often sees evidence of the land’s motorized inhabitants: discarded headlights, mirrors, hubcaps and tires. Air and oil filters. An abandoned scissor jack. Some less obvious items appear here, as well. The odd piece of lumber. A preponderance of men’s underwear.

Training rides afford one ample time to consider the life stories of these roadside finds. In most cases, a perfectly rational scenario can be imagined to explain how these things came to find their resting place. It’s a window into the lives of everyday people. A soda bottle, emptied of its contents, is given over to the wind. Empty containers from the drive-thru are released into the night. An emergency roadside repair can leave evidence behind. Sometimes, unsecured treasures make their own escape. These are easy and commonplace stories that easily satisfy any curiosity.

In other cases, it’s not so easy. Unlike a soda bottle, a bag of chips or a quart of oil, underwear isn’t exactly at hand. There is some effort that goes into underwear removal, particularly if large boots are in the mix. Especially while sitting in a car. What is the impetus for roadside underwear removal? Maybe there’s a rational explanation. “We were driving… and then, of course, I threw my underwear out of the moving car.” On the other hand, it’s possible that there was an emergency. “Dude, pull over! I’ve gotta get my underwear off!” The truth is probably stranger than any fiction I can devise.

The fact is that each year in Minnesota, volunteers remove about 26,000 tons of solid waste from 12,000 miles of roadway through MNDOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program(1). That doesn’t include hazardous or, ahem, biological materials that must be handled by qualified contractors. It’s estimated that over half of the trash we see on the road is discarded intentionally and the same percentage is food packaging(1). But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Also, eight out of ten times the person doing the discarding is male(1). Maybe the underwear mystery is solved.

Everything has a story. Some stories are simple, obvious and pedestrian. A rag, a bag, an Ashlee Simpson CD. Others are shrouded in mystery, shot-through with intrigue and carry an air of impropriety. Severed zip ties, a discarded hospital ID band, a half-empty bottle of bourbon. Whatever curiosity you happen across on your next ride, I hope it gives you an interesting story — something to ponder while you’re turning the pedals


Dave Bucklin

Today we welcome a new writer on the Musette, Dave Bucklin. A gentleman rider if ever there was one. With his trusty Casseroll he’s ready to take on any gravel epic the Midwest throws at him. Be sure to say howdy and hey at your next sufferfest – he’ll be a great wheel to follow. – MM

When I took the start at the ’09 Heck of the North, I had no idea what was about to happen or how it would eventually change my life. I had been riding regularly for about a year. I loved to ride – commuting had lit the spark that led to longer bicycling endeavors. I’d ridden my first century just three months earlier, a point-to-point from Minneapolis to Finlayson. Despite this newfound fitness, after about 5 miles on gravel I felt woefully unprepared and it would only get harder. Plenty of mud and rocky trail was waiting for me.

I rolled across the finish line nine hours later. I had pushed my bike for a good portion of the final climb. I snapped my chain on one of the switchbacks, but was able to fix it. The driver of a bike-adorned car called out, “It’s a killer, man!” It was no consolation. At the finish, I was exhausted. I hurt everywhere. My friend Ryan and I celebrated with some beers and nachos before the long drive home. All was well, for a time.

Over the following weeks, something wasn’t right. A general feeling of dissatisfaction had begun to well up within me. A small voice began to nag at me. Almost imperceptible at first, it heralded a sea change in my thoughts, my priorities and my daily life.

Nine hours? Ridiculous!

I was angry and I wanted revenge! I studied training and nutrition. I developed an entirely new diet. I trained religiously. I tracked every metric. I tested myself against the Almanzo 100 and the Westside Dirty Benjamin. I was stronger – physically and mentally. I was ready to face The Heck, but I didn’t get the chance. Luck, in the form of the entry lottery, saw to that.

I remained unavenged.

After 2010, my focus shifted. I was burning out. I wasn’t getting paid to put in efforts and hours, so why was I treating it like a job? It was time for the pendulum to swing back. I had been obsessed with intervals, calories and beats per minute. I took some time off to recover and get back in touch with what I loved about riding. Without a strict training plan, I found myself meditating on the oneness with the world, movement through space and wordless being that riding revealed to me. I had made great strides since Fall ’09 and, in doing so, proven myself to the only person that mattered.

The Heck of the North is still there and, in this year of our Lord two thousand eleven, I’ve made the start list. This October, I’ll have my second round with The Heck, but I no longer seek revenge. My worthiness is not a consequence of accepting the challenge – quite the opposite. I’m a stronger and smarter rider than when we first met. Still, I don’t expect the result to come any easier. In a June 14 blog post, Heck organizer Jeremy Kershaw declared, “I want this thing to be tough.”