Miesville 56 Gravel Grinder or “Tractor’s up!“

Anticipation and Preparation

MF6 was a long anticipated event: I intended to do it as my first gravel experience last year, but finally was able to get in this February.

Due to it’s popularity and 600 participants’ cap, registration process lasted only three hours and many gravel warriors weren’t be able to get in – by the stroke of luck or just beginner’s luck somehow I managed to register, whoah! The hard part was over, or so I thought.

Winter being my most favorite of the seasons, I shamelessly indulged in XC Skiing and Speed skating, unlike the rest of my wheel enthusiast friends who trained hard either indoors on all kind of trainers, or outdoors – commuting daily on their all-weather bikes or enjoying ever so popular Fatty craze. But I was confident that Nordic endurance training will get me to a sufficient fitness level to complete the ride…

Well, I was correct to some degree.

With the Mother Nature bestowing upon us the priceless gift of never ending winter (April’s Snowmageddon, yes!!!), it wasn’t until April 21 when I was able finally to get AWOL from the garage and let it go on communion with still somewhat muddy and even snowy local limestone trails – I should admit: it felt good to be back in the saddle!

First ride of the season: April 21, 2018

I went to the Seven Spokes shop in St. Paul for a special MF6 presentation delivered by Sean, the godfather of this event and actually got really excited after hearing all good things about it!

I revved up my training, eventually doing  several long-ish asphalt road rides and felt like I am ready for a big day on April 29.

Ride Day

It’s supposed to be a hot one and everyone suggested intense hydration in days prior to it – not sure if it’s a good strategy.

I spent Saturday doing the 30 Day of Biking social ride sponsored by ACF/SCW to get my muscles relaxed and get some extra training – it was an awesome event in sense of socializing too!

So, on Sunday morning I arrived in a lovely town of Miesville and observed a very festive atmosphere – all streets were filled with scores of excited riders! After parking in some sort of heavy farming equipment depot, I got myself all equipped and rode to a nearby stadium (the ride’s staging area): excitement was visible in the air!

The Stadium staging area

Sean gave and instructional and inspirational speech to a lycra-laden crowd of six hundred or so, and then we were on our way to achieve gravel greatness.

Sean’s speech

After the initial asphalt portion, we promptly entered the promised earthy surface and the peleton quickly sorted out speedsters from the rest of us.

The Grand Departure

Cheerful sun rays and gentle blow of a tailwind made us all very happy, but unfortunately this situation wasn’t prevalent on this day (at least the Sun was still shining bright). After awhile we started feeling almighty blows of head and side winds and we have to deal with it for the most of the ride. Some uphills and minimum maintenance curvy downhills took the most out of me, let the wind situation alone…

First Turnaround

Sooner or later we arrived to what became a highlight of the day: the Chimney Rock cheering station with it’s abundance of drinking water, coffee, pickle juice, and snacks provided by the generous sponsors (Maple Grove Cycling & Bell Lap Coffee among others).

Chimney Rock Refueling Station
And the prize for the most exquisite kit goes to…

By Sean’s instructions, we did a mandatory pilgrimage to the Rock, touched/hugged/kissed it according to personal preferences and received a raffle playing card from the lovely volunteer.

The Chimney Rock!

After brief Refueling-Socializing-Layer Management I set out on the remaining 36 miles wanting to finish it rather sooner than later.
Ahead of me there were plenty of uphills/downhills, rough gravel, and the last but not the least – omnipresent all-directional Mr. Breeze gusting to 15-20 mph. Rural areas present many local specifics, that we city folks are not accustomed to, one of them being: “Tractor’s up” – it really cracked me up:)!

Sometime it’s a really lonely ride
Sometime you meet other riders

After miles and miles of wide open rural scenery, it was a relief to enter the picturesque Miesville Ravine Regional Park – being sheltered for awhile from the brutality of wind blowing hard into your face or side and riding on a winding hard packed limestone – priceless!

By mile 50 riders reached Bleu Dog cafe in Welch Village (the turnaround point), got their dose of finish stretch caffeine fix or energy supplies, and were on their way to the Miesville.

Bleu Dog Cafe, Welch Village
Six miles to the finish (or so they say)

Remaining 6 miles felt more like 12 to me…

End of Miesville Ravine before the vastness of farmland

…I kept pedaling and pedaling and felt like the finish line is just a object of my imagination, but then when I was almost losing any hope – the lifesaving asphalt made it’s gracious appearance and I just cruised to the town in best traditions of Euro monuments! Sean was greeting everyone and we were smiling (sometime forcibly) and thanked him in our thoughts!

Afterwards finishers were congregating inside and outside of the King’s burger place, getting well deserved adult beverages and traditional American bar fare, exchanging war stories, and a few lucky ones getting their raffle prizes. I met a buddy who I got to ride with last year during Gravel West, and he was a little bit disappointed – one rider in his party got cursed with flats and the rhythm of their team got totally destroyed.

I guess I was lucky for not experiencing any mechanical problems with my bike or physiological with my body. ChocoChia that I brought with me perfectly sustained my energy levels during the long ride, and Dumonde Tech lube graciously given to me by Sean after the Seven Spokes presentation kept my chain happy.

Strava knows everything

Epilogue

What have I learned from this experience?

This was my third gravel race/ride and my confidence level increased with any following event.

The old axiom that you can’t go around the proper training still applies, but I am glad that my cross country ski/ice skating training in a large degree was able to compensate lack on time in the saddle. Although not cycling-specific, Nordic sports still kept me in a high physical fitness shape and I was able to make a seamless transition to cycling with no problem. It would be interesting to make a scientific comparison regarding cycling fitness between Winter Sports Warriors spending their time outdoors vs Indoor Cyclists accumulating hundreds of imaginary road miles, but sheltered from the elements.

My Big “Merci Beaucoup” goes to the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and folks of Miesville area – this event wouldn’t happen without you, plain and simple. It’s great to be a part of bustling MN cycling community and enjoy all the benefits and be able to volunteer for the upcoming events or support them in any other ways!

See everyone in 2019!

Watch MF6 Relive

Sociable Classic

Sociable Classic – Presented by Angry Catfish and Sociable Cider Werks.

As part of 30 Days of Biking  celebration, ACF and SCW organized a lovely tour through Minneapolis with stop at the Northern Coffeeworks and Sociable Cider Werks being a final destination.

Large group of cyclists gathered at the ACF munching on complimentary coffee and donuts,

ACF Socializing

and before long, departed as one happy group.

Peleton
Tete-de-Course
Self Driving Gizmo

We biked along Minnehaha Creek, the Chain of Lakes, onto Greenway and then to the North Loop, where there was a lunch/coffee break at the Northern Coffeeworks.

Hello Downtown!
Northern Coffeeworks

After the refuel, we continued through the Mills Ruins over the Stone Bridge…

The Guthrie Theater
Stone Arch Bridge

and eventually reached the coveted Sociable Coffee Werks!

GT Karakoram

And sociable it was – this really warm end of April day attracted swarms of vitamin D deficient residents – hopefully sun rays and array of multiple flavors of locally produced ciders (Burn Out Cucumber Habanero!!!) cured all the remnants of their winter blues.

K9 socializing
Homo Sapiens socializing
Nice gift from SCWerker Charles – Thank You!

Thank you ACF and SCW for putting up such a memorable event!

MF6 Training Ride

Training Day, 04/ 26/18. 3 days till Miesville!

In anticipation of the upcoming first gravel race of the season, I went on a 46 mile training ride to test new hydration/fuel system, my all-road-bike, and last but not least my cycling provess. 

Having been exclusively Nordic skier/speedskater until just recently (Thank you April Snowmageddon!), I had serious concerns regarding my legs (and lungs and the rest of my anatomy) ready for for this upcoming epic ride. So, this venture into a South Metro farmland was a great way to see where I stand.

There were gravel, limestone, rough roads, smooth roads, and relentless wind (we are still a prairie land). Surprisingly enough, my physical shape was very decent and bike handled very well, and fluid/feed system functioned perfect alongside with some experimental energy substances.

The highlight of the ride was a climb of winding Dell Rd from Flying Cloud Drive just few miles from the finish – it’s tough enough on a road bike, let alone my all-road beast! Somewhere at midpoint I seriously considered just walking it up, yet persevered and slowly but surely reached the top – major confidence builder!

Going on Friday on a long fast road ride (my carbon rocket this time), followed some gravel on Saturday, and then a Big Day on Sunday – my inaugural Miesville 56!  

Beet Salad

Beets are very good for you, and this Salad could be whipped up in no time!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium size Beets
  • Sauerkraut
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Spanish Peanuts
  • Cucanat
  • Olive Oil

Instructions:

Boil beets (1.5 hr), let them cool down,  and then peel the skin and grate them in a large bowl.  Add some sauerkraut (optional), shredded coconut, roasted Spanish peanuts (redskins), and Cucanat. Sprinkle with Olive Oil and mix everything well.

Transfer to a glass containers with a tight lid and keep it in the fridge.

Ham Guac

Double Protein Punch

Ingredients:

  • Hearty Guacamole
  • Organic Nitrite/Nitrate Free Ham

Instructions:

  1. Wrap guacamole in ham slices and keep them in a glass container with tight lid in a fridge till ready to enjoy.

Sauerkraut

Pearl of Fermentation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cabbage
  • 2 Carrots
  • Sea Salt
  • Caraway Seed
  • Jalapeno/Serrano Peppers (optional)
  • Lingonberries (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the Cabbage head into four segments, and then shred them.
  2. Using grater, do the same with two peeled carrots.
  3. Transfer everything into a large ceramic bowl.
  4. Add Sea Salt, Caraway Seeds, and the rest of optional ingredients.
  5. Massage everything with your hands till juices start flowing.
  6. Cover your ceramic bowl with a cheese cloth or paper towel.
  7. Keep lightly massaging and mixing it every day for a few days.
  8. After several days (depending on room temperature) you will start smelling the kraut’s aroma – it’s an indication that a rapid fermentation is finished.
  9. Transfer finished products into glass jar and keep them refrigerated – they will be fresh for at least several weeks.

Hearty Guac

Spicy Latin Fusion.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Avocados
  • 2 small Shallots
  • 1/3 of Lime/Lemon
  • Bunch of Cilantro
  • 1-2 Jalapenos
  • 1/8 cup of Grated Ginger
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Garlic Bulb

Instructions:

  1. In a large glass bowl mix the medium avocado chunks with chopped jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, then add lime/lemon juice and grated ginger.
  2. Roast garlic in a ceramic roaster for an hour, mince it and add to the mix.
  3. Transfer to a glass container with tight lid and refrigerate.

Ginger Ale

Zesty Summer Refreshment.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups filtered water
  • 1-2 inch piece of fresh Ginger Root, minced
  • 1/2 cup Cucanat sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • ½ cup Lime Juice

Instructions:

  1. Make a “wort” for the Ginger Ale by placing 3 cups of the water, minced Ginger Root, Sucanat and Salt in a saucepan and bringing to a boil.
  2. Simmer the mixture for about five minutes until Sucanat is dissolved and mixture starts to smell like ginger.
  3. Remove from heat and add additional water. This should cool it but if not, allow it to cool to room temperature before moving to the next step.
  4. Add fresh Lime Juice
    Transfer to a 2 quart glass mason jar with an air-tight lid. 
  5. Stir well and put lid on.
  6. Leave on the counter for 2-3 days until carbonated. Watch this step carefully. Using whey will cause it to ferment more quickly. It should be bubble and should “hiss” like a soda when the lid is removed. This is very temperature dependent and the mixture may need to be burped or stirred during this fermentation time on the counter.
  7. Transfer to refrigerator.
  8. Strain before drinking.

Raspy Piney Pops

Midwest Tropical Fusion.

Ingredients:

  • Raspberries
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Almond Milk
  • Pineapple Chunks

Instructions:

Blend Almond Milk with Pinneapple/Coconut and pour into a mold 2/3 of the way. Do the same with the Raspberries and fill the mould to top.

Black Blue Pops

Rich Flavor Antioxidant Booster.

Ingredients:

  • Blackberries
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Blueberries
  • Chopped Almonds

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients and pour into a mold.

Choco Apple Pops

Tangy Fruitty ice cream is rather refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • Apple Sauce
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Dark Chocolate

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients and pour into a mold.

Cacao Walnut Pops

This Nutty Chocolatey ice cream screams: “Decadence”!

 

Ingredients:

  • Shredded Coconut
  • Walnuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Almond Milk
  • Cacao Powder

Instructions:

Mix Almond Milk and Cacao Powder in a blender, pour into a mold while adding dry ingredients.

Wrap ‘Cheeselingo’

The Sprouted Grain Wrap ‘Cheeselingo’ is very easy to make and is always a crowd-pleaser!

 

1. Cut crust in four quarters and spread lingonberry preserves on each of them.

 

2. Chop some almonds and cover preserves with them.

 

3. Add some cheese slices (Jarlsberg) over the almonds/preserves.

 

4. Make wraps, brush them lightly with olive oil and bake them for 10 min on each side at 350F.

 

Ingredients:

  • Sprouted Mash 7 Grain Flatzza Pizza Crust
  • Lingonberry Preserves
  • Almonds
  • Cheese (Jarlsberg)
  • Olive Oil

Hint:

Keep them in a tight paper bag  – they will be fine for a few days, no refrigeration needed.

Salad ‘Baltico’

This Layered Salad is very easy to make and is always a crowd-pleaser!

Baltico

Ingredients:

Layer One

  • Beets
  • Walnuts

Between Layers

  • Mayonnaise
  • Cheese
  • Garlic

Layer Two

  • Carrots
  • Cucanat

Top

  • Shredded Coconut
  • Golden Flax Seeds

 

Instructions:

Cook beets (1 hr), steam carrots (10 min), roast garlic (1hr), mix shredded cheese with mayonnaise and garlic and fill the bowl with alternate layers. 

Spread the top with shredded coconut and golden flax seeds. 

Voila! 

Baltico

Hazelnut Spread

Original Italian Design.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup Cucanat
  • 1/4 cup Cacao Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp Celtic Salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Carefully put the hot hazelnuts in a plastic net and scrub with your palms. The skins will fall right off. Put skinless nuts in a blender.
  3. Grind the hazelnuts for about 5 minutes until they turn into a creamy hazelnut butter.
  4. Add the Cucanat, Cacao Powder, Coconut Oil, Vanilla, and Celtic Salt. Blend for another minute until all the ingredients are combined smooth.
  5. Transfer to a jar with tight lid. Store in room temperature for several weeks.