Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snowshoe Hike

The Ice Age Trail will be hosting a snowshoe hike at the Underdown on January 22nd at 10:30.

Snowshoe and ski trails are getting tracked and signed this week. As you probably know, there is snow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

July 2nd, 2011

Next year's Thuderdown will run on a beautiful, sunny Saturday. Here are a few things to expect:
  • The monster course will be taking a year off. This year's long course will bypass the Mist Lake loop and use either the made-over trail V or Oktoberfest, depending on the status of logging on Oktoberfest. Hopefully we'll get to use it one more time before it needs to get rebuilt. This course will be short enough for 6 hour solo racers to complete 3 or 4 laps, but too long for many 3 hour racers to complete 2 laps. The monster course should be back tougher than ever for 2012. It could be the end of the world as foretold by the Mayas.
  • 3 Hour racers and teams will be doing the shorter 9 or 10 mile course used last year. It will be only slightly shorter than 2010. For navigational purposes it will have to leave trail C at the top of the X to C hill instead of the new XX cutoff from the saddle hill switchbacks.
  • A least a half dozen new bridges have been built to keep it dry and gnarly.
  • Another Thunderdown Cup is up for grabs for the town that puts in the most miles. Be sure to sign up on your town's roster before the start of the race this year. Rhinelander will be back with a vengeance.
  • June 25th, 2011 10AM Pre-ride group ride
  • July 2nd, 2011 Thunderdown time - New classes and start times to be announced
  • New awards to be announced

Raspberry weekend:
  • July 23rd Bill Underdown's Roubaix Style Group Ride: a 77.7 mile cross bike ride with 49.9 miles of dirt - the Wausau24 training day
  • July 24th Super D Group Ride: 2 stopwatches and a whole bunch of hills, maybe a little polo

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

History Underdown 1.wmv

For all videos in the series, see the links at the left.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Group Ride Sunday

The Rhinelander crew and others are coming down Sunday for a group ride leaving the main parking lot at noon.

Also, for history geeks there is the Merrill Historical Society's annual meeting at 4PM Sunday in the Community Room at TB Scott Library. This is free program open to the public. I'll be presenting about the ghost town and dam at Grandfather Falls plus a little railroad, Ice Age, and Underdown history.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Bridges.wmv

Paul and Beth came out to help with some funky bridges today. They are slippery when wet, but you knew that.

For the sake of Steve's derailleurs we're going to go after the leaves now. They should be gone by next weekend.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 10th Work Day

A few fun projects - not the marathon digging sessions I usually put Paul and Steve through.

First, a re-opening of an abandoned trail we'll call MM that will connect M and X for a complete loop around the Hollow. This will be all about throwing sticks with optional work on the tread. My orange car will be parked on Loop Road between the Ice Age Trail and X crossings around 9AM or so.

After that there are four bridges to install over places that were dry until about a month ago. If you've got an extra cordless drill it might come in handy.

Log Ride.wmv

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trail V Makeover

Find something new on Trail V. An anonymous builder did some great work out there Saturday, and Paul, Beth, and I were moving a little dirt today.
Only one hill and four berms to go.

The next work day is October 10th on trail M around the Hollow north of where trail X crosses Loop Road. Maybe a few bridges?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clear cuts grow up fast

Trail Y and a few other sunny spots have been mowed recently. Shade should be back in a few years. There is probably some kind of Yin Yang lesson in there for us.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Try trail L and we'll see you for V

If you haven't ridden trail L lately, it's time to give it a try. Paul, Steve, and I did a little landscaping out there today.

If you're into a little digging, join us September 19th and maybe 26th on trail V.

History Underdown 2.wmv

History Underdown 3.wmv

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fall Trail Work

You can call me a wimp, but I'd rather not use the brakes or the granny gear. Come out and lend a hand on a few projects that will at least change the view.

I get out there pretty early. Look for the orange car parked in the middle of nowhere.

August 21st: Trail L A flowing bypass around the steeps of the rock slide and $5 hills of trail L. Bench cuts and berms
September 19th: Trail V Re-work a couple back-breaker hills. Bench cuts
October 10th: Trail to be called MM Re-discover an abandoned trail that completes the route around the hollow. Brush and some tread work

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bill Underdown's Cue Sheet

Get your dirt road bike out for Bill Underdown's Roubaix-style Group Ride. This is 77.7* miles including 49.9 miles on various kinds of DIRT that takes 5 to 6 hours - a good Wausau 24 tune-up, but not so long that you won't be able to pick raspberries and ride single track on Sunday.

Start from the Underdown parking lot at 9AM on Saturday, July 24th.

Not technically a race, this is a free ride that you attempt while taking all responsibility for your own support, safety, navigation, nutrition, hydration and evacuation upon yourself just as you would on any other training ride. One drop bag location will meet you half way.

Cross bikes are ideal, but not essential. A mountain bike with skinny tires or slicks will get the job done. An odometer is very helpful in this kind of ride. Below is the old beast I ride it with.

*I didn't plan such a cute number for the total mileage. It felt like 90 miles to me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Trail X Boardwalk.wmv

Trail H Bridge.wmv

Now you can ride over 20 miles of single track with no mud (unless you cross a log landing after a downpour).

Downhilling Trail X.wmv

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thanks Riders! What now?

Thanks everyone for your great comments, courage and efforts while facing the Underdown last week. After hearing from a lot of people and looking at the lap times, I'm left with the Underdown dilemma: too much trail. Though it's a shame to skip good trail and there is a place for the ultimate lap, the 2010 long-course format isn't something we can do every year and stay in one piece. I'm thinking of scaling things back to something like last year's distance and tweaking the existing trails before adding new ones.

What do we leave in? Tell me what trails you come to the Underdown to ride, and I'll try to put them together in a course that is still fun and challenging, but a little less brutal.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Clean-Up White Lightning

Weather permitting we'll be out Saturday morning (the 10th) to clean up the White Lightning trail after the clear-cut. Loggers are making an effort to keep debris off of the trail, and they were very kind to work around that trail before the race. I'm curious about the view after the trees are gone.

See poll at left.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Duluth Boys Are Tough

4 laps of the long course for Ek and Buffington!

Let me know what you think of this year's all-the-way-around format. I know it's not for everybody, but there has to be a race where tough guys can show us what can be done.

Bill Underdown's Roubaix-style Group Ride

I will see you Saturday, July 24th at 9AM for the BURGR, a 90 or so mile dirt-road ride through the forests of Lincoln, Langlade, and Oneida counties. If you like single-lane forest roads like Horn Lake Road, you will have fun on this route. This is a great tune-up ride for the Wausau 24 that will make you strong, but leave you some energy to pick raspberries the next day.

Not technically a race, this is a free ride that you attempt while taking all responsibility for your own support, safety, navigation, nutrition, hydration and evacuation upon yourself just as you would on any other training ride. Cross bikes are ideal, but not essential. One drop bag location will meet you half way.

Cue sheet here soon.

Raspberry Ride and Hike

Come on out Sunday, July 25th for a ride or hike through the raspberry fields of trail C. We'll meet at about 10 AM at the small parking lot and proceed without much organization, picking and eating as we go. From Dog Lake we can ride or hike back to Loop Road on the Ice Age Trail, or explore other trails.


The hot ride of these
trails of mine,
are access to bumps
and adrenaline,
that peaks at the
sight of fame,
reminding me of sweat
and veins,
that have scarred me
at the rim of excitement,
taking me to a level that
speaks reality,
the hills that kill,
the ground that lives,
the bike that grinds,
until the time is done.

-Kim Marie Plansky

Thanks Volunteers

Ted and I want to thank Michelle, Louise, Herb, Riley, Jordan, Randy, Mark, Roger, Paul, Andrea, Beth, Al, and Steve for helping us help you survive the Thunderdown.

Wausau Takes Thunderdown Cup

The Thunderdown Cup made by local artist Blane Gaeber will be on public display in a Wausau establishment thanks to the 411 miles ridden by Wausau riders versus 352 from Rhinelander. Rematch next year.

Pictures 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hammer Down in the Underdown

What I would do-

12 Team and 6 Hour: You've got a 10 mile test of your power production and flow-maintenance skills on a quite technical single-track course ahead of you. On a warm summer day a single bottle will leave you running on fumes by the end so be prepared, especially if you're going out for another lap right away. The Loop Road aid station will come up after about 6 miles and will have water, Heed, Hammer Gel, and Endurolytes to get you to the end. On a hot day you should have eaten Endurolytes before you even started, but keep drinking and eat a little as you race.

Enjoy the two long descents on trail LL after the aid station, then finish your eating and drinking on the snowmobile trail. Once you dig through trail L you will get back across Loop Road and put the hammer down because you are in the final two miles. Only you will know if you've gone as hard as you could, but ride like there's something stalking you just in case.

I saw a huge bear track there tonight in the fresh mud just past Underdown's homestead, and by a quarter past nine as it was getting hard to see I was cresting the gravel pit overlook on trail A and there was that bear, right in the trail. In these situations I like to think of myself as the baddest bear in the woods. That bear ran away, but I'm sure he will see you if you start doggin' it coming home on Saturday. If you get in by 9PM you should be OK.

12 Solo, 12 Duo, and 3 Hour: You will be riding a tough 21 miles that will keep you out there two to three hours or more. On a warm day like Saturday, two bottles will leave you running on fumes well before the end. I would wear a hydration pack even though I usually don't race with one. Take advantage of the 3 aid stations to get Heed or water even if you normally just blow by them. Eat something like a Hammer Gel or bar around every aid station even if you don't feel hungry yet. Endurolytes or electrolytes in some drinks should keep you from cramping on a hot day. I would have one to three per lap depending on how hot it was, but you could check their website if you were more curious. If my stomach tells me that I've had too much electrolyte I switch to drinking water and that usually settles things down.

Once you pass Dog Lake and the Relentless hill you will be near the first aid station on Mist Lake. This is the start of your only sustained double-track so take the time to eat and drink. After descending Oktoberfest you will reach the second aid station at Underdown Lake. Don't forget to take care of yourself even if you still feel great because you still have half of the lap left.

At some point between Underdown Lake and the Loop Road aid station you could start having your doubts. This usually happens right after the Yin Yang Yalcano, nine miles from the finish. You really start to wonder how much more trail there could be, and if you've got enough left. You might even think about bailing out, but you won't allow yourself that option. Just keep fueling and pedaling, taking one hill at a time. You won't be alone out there. Think about what you're doing - every turn you carve and bump you roll. Admire the view. Have fun. Enjoy Round Top and the Stumpjumper, and before you know it you'll be grabbing something at the last aid station and in the home stretch. You will get done and be glad that you didn't give in to all those reasons to quit you were thinking of . This was not just any lap. This was all the way around in the Underdown.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal Crossing

Today I had to wait on trail V for a pair of cranes with child to cross the trail. Grouse with chicks seem to be everywhere, and turkeys pop up once in a while around trail U. Earlier this week I stopped for a fawn curled up on trail KK until it popped up and went running to mama. Ted and I had to wait for a porcupine to get off the Oktoberfest trail Saturday night. I've seen an owl twice on Oktoberfest this year, and you can count on it talking to you there at dusk. The eagle and otter that were at Underdown Lake haven't been seen this year.
Bears seem to be more common around the east end of Horn Lake Road, but I haven't seen one for about a month. They mind their own business. It's been a good week to find garter, pine, and red-bellied snakes sunning on the trails in the morning.
Riley has been catching countless bluegill at Underdown Lake, plus a few bass at Mist Lake.

White Lightning Clear Cut

Due to conditions beyond our control, there will be a lot fewer trees on the White Lightning hill (trail I) by race time, but the trail will be cleaned up. Be careful out there until then. We should have a nice view from the top of the hill like Billy Goat Hill 5 years ago. Lincoln County loggers do go out of their way to work with trail users and deserve our thanks. Trail B is safe for now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thunderdown in the Underdown 2010

Saturday July 3rd, 2010

12 hour classes: 8am to 8pm
6 hour classes: 1pm to 7pm
3 hour : starts 3pm

You must complete your last lap before time expires with the exception of 3 hour racers on their first lap.

"20 mile" course*: 12 solo, 12 duo, 3 solo
"10 mile" course**: 12 team, 6 solo, 6 duo
Course description HERE.

Camping available on-site.

Group pre-ride June 27th at 10AM.

See the links on the left for events including the Thunderdown Cup, Bike Polo Tournament, and Poetry-Story-Photo contest.

$5 hills: There are a pair of short, steep hills that will probably only be in this year's race. Clean them both and get $5 on the spot while supplies last.

Volunteers needed! This includes not-too-tough jobs close to the action like temporary course marshalls, short term timers, and polo refs. I'm also looking for some 12 duo teams who would like to camp out and run an aid station at Mist Lake or Underdown Lake (free camping and entry, start with everyone but exchange at your lake) . 715-873-4113 or e-mail using the link in the profile

*The record for the "20 mile" course is 2:13. I predict that someone will get close to breaking 2 hours, but not quite do it. More times will go past 3 hours than under 2 hours. I also predict that when someone gets an odometer out there we'll find that it's a few miles more than 20. (It was just measured at 21 miles.) This is the ultimate Thunderdown experience after all - all the way around in the Underdown.
**Riding hard, the "10 mile" course took 1:03. Someone will break one hour on race day. The loop is probably a little under 10 miles, but there are few breaks in the hills and single-track.

The Life of Bill Underdown

The Underdown Recreation Area got its name from all-around tough guy, William Underdown. In 1855 he was born into a family of English sheep herders near Dekalb, Illinois. He headed off to Mt. Edna, Iowa to become a prize winning farmer of sheep, Angora goats, and Guernsey cattle. There he caught the eye of 27-year-old Louisa, and they were married in 1881. The couple lived in Lincoln County for 13 years before returning to Illinois. Louisa died there of a long term illness in 1918 after 37 years with Bill. They had no children.

Underdown came back to Wisconsin to homestead the 170 acres that are part of the county forest today. At this point it gets hard to separate the Underdown legend from reality. Many stories tell of Underdown staying busy with customers who came for miles to buy his Underdown Moonshine. Other stories depict him as a hermit who rarely went to town and had various tricks for keeping strangers away such as fake trip-wired gun positions and naked berry picking. He was known by most as a kind man who wouldn't harm anyone including the mosquitoes that he allowed to swarm around him. He was well-liked and well-remembered so much so that the area around his homestead was already starting to be known as "Underdown Country."

Underdown was above all, a tough guy. He baked his own bread and farmed that hilly terrain around his homestead. Anyone who has found the huge rock piles in the pine plantation where his gardens used to be will know that his was not an easy place to be a farmer. Underdown also earned a living as a cook in lumber camps and a logger himself. An article found tucked in his Bible tells of the year that he alone put 330,000 feet of logs into the Prairie River.

As Underdown aged, his health did not always allow him to survive on the homestead. At one point he became so sick that he returned to Iowa to die. Underdown survived Iowa and returned by train. The friend who finally got him home was surprised to find the house with leftovers on the table just as Underdown had left them before his trip. On the 4th of July, 1943, Underdown did die in Lincoln County from complications following a hip fracture. He was 88. He had spent his later years in the care of the county, and in the end he lost his land to the county to pay bills.

Sometimes when you attempt something extremely hard like a 12-hour mountain bike race, it's good to think of Bill Underdown and remind yourself how easy we have it in the 21st Century.

Join me July 24th for Bill Underdown's Roubaix-style Group Ride. The BURGR is a semi-formal 90-100 mile dirt road ride through Underdown Country on roads similar to Horn Lake Road. Cue sheet coming.

Bill Underdown

Bill Underdown at the Iowa State Fair (second from left) and later in life. Thanks to the Merrill Historical Society.

Underdown homestead and burned out old-growth stump by Jordan Schotz.

The railroad in Underdown's time.