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BadVentures Vol. V

Tour of Dirt

Guest BadVenturer: Milwaukee Marc

Getting people from different walks of life together around bikes and a little friendly competition has been something I’ve done for years.

I’m not entirely sure why I keep doing it, but I do. The latest iteration was the TASCO Tour of Dirt 4.1.

Group watching rider

These things just don’t come together the day before the event.

They take dreaming, scheming, and coffee. Lots of the planning takes place early in the morning with a cup of coffee. I think about what kind of event would be fun, where to do it, and I run through trails and routes in my head. This is all certainly made easier and more enjoyable with a couple cups of BADSEA ;)

bags and bags of badsea coffee

After the dreaming and scheming comes the recon.

I go out and see how feasible my plans are. I check for timing, length, and for safety issues. This part of the process is fun because it involves riding my bike and exploring. What could be better than that?

Now, the Tour of Dirt has been morphing over the last 4 years...

From a Strava based 3 week long solo extravaganza to this year’s very different version of group rides happening 4 times throughout the year. The first installment was The TASCO Tour of Dirt (ToD) 4.1.

This year I am keeping the uniqueness of each event mostly on the hush until people get to the ride.

The hint for the ToD 4.1 was to choose grippy tires and to get their pressure right. After allowing all the late arrivers (myself included) to show at the meet up spot I told the riders the plan: hill climb challenges sprinkled throughout the route. The challenges weren’t about speed, they were about whether riders could clean the hills without dabbing within 3 attempts. I could see the look of doubt on many faces. That look of “well, that sounds stupid, I wonder if I can just fade of the back of the pack and disappear”. I think we actually may have lost a couple of riders before we got to the first hill. I get it, in world of mountain biking where everything is skewing towards letting a big ol’ bike take you down drops at mach 5 who wants to work at pedaling up something most people wouldn’t hike? This guy, that’s who.

Rider Riding up hill

And it turns out most of the group wanted to as well by the end.

At the first climb there was hesitation. A few riders made it look easy and went right up. Some riders feigned attempts and then walked. Others sessioned the climb with some eventually cleaning it. The reward? A good old fashioned DIY spoke card.

Bike with spoke cards

Something changed by the time we started the next climb.

This time everyone was making repeat attempts. The challenge of cleaning it was taking hold of them. Riders were walking and scoping lines. They gathered and cheered on others as they tried get up the hill without putting a foot down. ToD 4.1 was coming together.

Riders pointing and cheering

The third climb brought a new flavor.

Climbs 1 (Spades) and 2 (Clubs) were technically challenging, but they were also long and steep. Climb 3 (Hearts) was short. It had 3 rocky step ups and an alternative but still challenging line at the top. Less cardio and equal/more skill. I think it may have been the crowd favorite.

Rider riding rocky

Climb 4 (Diamonds) wasn’t too long, it wasn’t too steep, it wasn’t too technical.

BUT which line do you take? Riders with big engines could plow up a very steep line and maintain traction, others had to navigate the rocks and the ruts. A few even used the bushes as a way to stay upright! Smart, I’ll allow it.

Rider riding rockier route up

By the end we had 5 riders clean all 4 climbs.

It was a tie. That’s more than I thought would do it, but thankfully it was a little humid and cloudy so the traction was the best it had been in weeks. Kevin wanted a tie breaker and he had an idea of where. A climb that I had never seen anyone clean. We made our way over to it. Impossible we all thought as we looked up at it. The win will go to whoever gets farthest up. Then the gauntlet was dropped and things got real.

PT riding up

Everyone made attempts to get up, but the 5 tied riders really showed their strength.

They slowly one upped eachother up the hill. And then Kevin almost cleaned it, then Pete almost did too. Both would have, if not for tree branches hanging 4 feet off the ground at the top. Pete had lunged his bike about a foot further than Kevin got. However, Kevin was determined. Risking bike and limb he eventually got up to the top again and forced his way through the tree branches, effectively cleaning the whole hill. Chapeau.

Kevin Lentz about to clean the steep

ToD 4.1 went off quite well

And I think that 4.2-4.4 are going to be a blast. At least that is how I see it so far in my head.

Until the next BadVenture...

Roaster