In conclusion and recognition

Ladies and gentlemen, that was Ten Thousand.

Photo by Chad Gregory

Photo by Chad Gregory

All of us at Axletree thank you for coming out to our inaugural running of this event, and appreciate all of the support and kind words said to us throughout the weekend.  Hearing so many riders tell us how surprised they were that roads this beautiful and merciless existed in Illinois fulfilled one of our hopes for the day. It was our pleasure to create and host an event so cyclists can see the hidden gem that is the Illinois Driftless.  Thank you for sharing in it with us. Tell your friends the stories you told us at the finish, or dare them to join your team next time.

Photo by Gavin Gould

Photo by Gavin Gould

Well done to all the riders. Simply showing up despite the impending weather forecast showed mettle, and that contributed to a smaller but concentrated
field of tough riders. Here are the results for the 2014 Ten Thousand.

Full Route (126)
Dan Eiten – 7:52 (First man)
John Paul McCarthy – 7:57
Jake Glahn – 8:24
Kae Takeshita – 8:26 (First woman)
Michael Peters – 8:37
Tim Elliott – 9:13
John Gatto 9:16
Chase Negley – 9:16
Hank Saha – 9:16
Sydney Guagliardo – 9:16
Andrea Cohen – 9:24
Sean Mulligan – 9:24
Nicholas Perrow – 9:27
Tom flynn – 9:30
Ken York – 9:49
Andrew Cohen – 9:49
Dave McCollum – 9:49
Dennis Schueler – 9:49
Team Axletree – 9:53 (First team)
Paul Carpenter – 9:56
Joe Mann – 9:56
Team Swallow Bicycle Works – 10:27
Beth Wagner – 10:27
Brent Wegschied – 10:42
Jeremy Fry – 10:53
Tim Hau – 10:53
Stay Rad Adventure Team- 10:59
Tim McGrath – 11:13
Grant Foster- 11:40
Michael lemberger – 11:40
Bailey Newbrey – 12:09
John Orleans – 12:09
Allison Zmunda – 12:09

Photo by Brian Mark

Photo by Brian Mark

Abridged route (73)
Kurt Schauwecker – 5:16 (first man)
Tom Kabacinski – 5:33
John Olney – 5:33
Mike Feller – 5:44
June Upshaw 5:44(First woman)
Daniel Szokarski – 5:44
Timothy Hejny – 5:44
Jared Sheopard – 5:56
Michael Berman – 6:49
Zach Bonzer – 6:49
Kierstin Kloeckner – 6:51
Dan Hobson – 6:51
Ryan Falk – 6:54
Club De cyclisme TATI – 6:55 (First team)
Gillian Forsyth – 6:58
Pessimistic, Pragmatic, Optimists – 7:28
Jeff Franson – 7:39
Mark Collins – 7:58
Craft and Steel Cycling – 7:58

Photo by Gavin Gould

Photo by Gavin Gould

We will see you next time.  Take care.

Photo by Gavin Gould

Photo by Gavin Gould

Route revealed

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ten Thousand.

Ten Thousand Full

Ten Thousand Abridged

If you look closely you will see that the abridged route shortcuts back onto the full route with a 1.7 mile detour.  You will still get to see the same roads on your way back with the abridged route, just less of them.


If you click on the picture for each route it will take you to the ridewithgps pages. There is a pull out page on the right side, with an Export tab that will allow you to download the file that suits your GPS preferences best.

The GPX Track method is very useful, as many roads are unmarked.
The only place you need to be extra aware at when using this method is where the out and back section splits off at mile 14.4. Make sure you travel clockwise and all is well.

Cue Sheets:
The cue sheets are separated into three segments.  Getting to the checkpoint, and then the long and short routes back. If you want to print off cards to your specs for a holder, or get them laminated, you can click on the links below for each segment. These are setup for A6 card stock (4.5×6.25in). We will have cue cards printed on some sort of paper at the start also.

-Ten Thousand_Beginning Leg
-Ten Thousand_Little Spoon
-Ten Thousand_Big Spoon

The third resource at your disposal are the good old paper IDOT bicycle maps. The battery life is pretty great on these things. These are the peanut butter to the cue sheets jelly.

Use these resources well, and stay alert. Missing a turn here might mean you have to climb back up a half mile hill all over again. Plan ahead.

Stay Alert:
Expect many roads not to be marked. For example the road in the picture below is the turn for “Mud Road”. No signs, and looks just like a driveway. Keep an eye on your computers mileage, and your GPS info to stay on track.  

Mud Road

Mud Road

Expect surprise sections of loose gravel. This photo below shows a fresh 2″ deep section we encountered in the middle of a paved 35+ mph turn.


We look forward to having you out next weekend. Come prepared and ready for a beautiful ride with 103 other people. See you soon.


Cross your t’s, dot your i’s.

Everyone knows the general overview of the event, but now we will get a little more specific with some of the details.

First off, we present to you our home base within Krape Park for the day.


The Koenig Amphitheater is where you will report to in the morning to sign a waiver with us, between 6am to 6:45am.  Hopefully you have your setup ready to roll, but if you need more time to setup your bike or prepare, feel free to get to the park earlier.

Krape Parking
The Freeport Park District requests that we park in two specific spots first, which conveniently for you are close to the amphitheater. I have color coded these spots below, please fill them appropriately. Please use the green spots first, and then overflow into the yellow general parking.

Krape Parking

We will have a brief few words of instruction before the ride rolls out at 7am, and then you are on your own. There will be about a mile escorted by a vehicle.

Take care of yourself
I want to stress that we can not, and will not, come and help riders back to town should the need arise. This is not a supported ride. It is your responsibility to be prepared for whatever need arises, and having someone with a vehicle at standby to remove you from the course is recommended. This vehicle is NOT allowed to meet you on course for any reason other then removing you from the event. Flat tires and you forgot tubes? Ask other riders. Ran out of water? Ask other riders, or knock on a farm house. Not only is this par for the endurance course, but putting 100 of your Moms roaming around the course in mini vans would be very dangerous. You are on your own. Have fun, enjoy your adventure, and don’t cheat.

We better not get that phone call, where someone has broken their chain three times, and asks how they should get back to town 40 miles away.


Clay road. Mile 19.

This is not the checkpoint. This is just a cemetery.

As mentioned, the only checkpoint is at mile 42. If you get there prior to 11:15am, you can choose whether you advance onto the 125 or 73 mile route, depending on if you want to double or triple your mileage. If you have not done numerous 10+ hour rides this year, and don’t know how your body works at that point, you should take an extra minute and think.
If you arrive after 11:15, which is below a 10mph average speed,  the thinking part is done for you. You will be required to progress onto the 73 mile route. There will be plain water at this checkpoint, which we will be hauling to the spot.

The down hill coast into the checkpoint.

The downhill coast into the checkpoint.

Water and Food
Please bring a ton of both. No food on the 73 mile route, and one gas station at mile 84 on the 126 mile route.
There is a gas station a mile off the route about 12 miles away from Freeport for both, should you be hurting that bad. Use your intuition, it’s easy to find.

Remember, this year at the Gravel Metric 70% of people ran out of water. If you do that here you wont make it back.

Official finish cut off
It’s par for the course for events like this to have an official finish cut off time equal to a 10mph average. That makes it 7:30pm for the complete course.  This feat will be more difficult then it seems at first, but doable for riders that know steady pacing, nutrition, and positive thoughts. Come knowing there is a reasonable chance you will not make the cut off.
Those that succeed in finishing the complete route in the allotted time will have their names recorded forever on the walls of this page of the internet.

This ride is a challenge, and finishing the course in any regard is a feat. You can focus on accomplishing your goals, and know that we will be here for you at the end for an extended amount of time after the cut off. The Freeport Park District has went above and beyond and given us a special permit to let you park your car as long as you need to finish the course. Show your thanks, abide by park rules, keep the park clean, and support the local business.

We will have a checklist to mark people off on as they arrive, or notify us they have withdrawn from the event.  We don’t mind waiting for you to finish, but we do mind waiting for someone that is already on their way back to Chicago.
A number to text to with your DNF will be provided the morning of. If you call this number for help, you will be told to call 911. If you call this number for directions, you will be told the location of the cue sheets and paper IDOT maps that have been at the start line since you arrived.

At least a small flashing light front and rear is mandatory, just in case.

You will see dogs. These dogs might run after you. So far we have not found any dogs that are hostile, but use your intuition. Farm Dogs are Sprint Training.

This dog lives at mile 15.4 at the bottom of your first hill. I call him Falkor.


Post ride
We will have a grill setup for riders to cook food on post ride. Bring a cooler in your vehicle with your burgers, buns, fixings, pasta salad, and whatever else you want to eat for the post ride. Hangout, rest, clap for incoming riders, and try to figure out which hill someone is talking about as everyone exchanges stories.
Forgot all of your food but want to hangout? There is a full grocery store a couple miles away, or a concession stand 200ft across the lot.
If you’d prefer a restaurant away from the company of yet unmet friends, we would suggest locally owned “This Is It Eatery“, located downtown.

There is no big awards ceremony. Set your goals, attempt them, share your story, create memories.

The course, with cue sheets and GPS data will be released on July 6th. This will give you five days to upload it into your GPS device, or print off your own cue sheets to get familiar with. The course is not marked by us, and generally poorly marked by the state. This is why while most endurance events only give cue sheets, we will also supply you with GPS and paper IDOT maps. You have the tools, use them wisely, and don’t blindly follow the wheel in front of you.

An example of the maps that will be available.  Check out that maze.

An example of the maps that will be available.
Check out that maze.

We encourage questions. We like providing answers more then assumptions, usually. Either email at, or ask openly on the facebook event page.

Birth of Ten Thousand

Some of you might have recently noticed that our little event, that hasn’t even had it’s first running yet, was called by an obscure website one of the “Best gravel races in America“. This amused us for multiple reasons.

First of all, only two people in the world had even seen the route at the time. Who knows if it is 10,000 feet of highway miles or not?

Second of all, and more aligned with the topic of this post, we have never claimed this to be a “gravel race”.

For the last number of years, perhaps even since the inception of the gravel subculture, there has been an objective of taking out as many pavement miles as possible, to connect all the gravel dots. It’s not a bad agenda, after all a gravel event should in fact be as much on gravel as possible.
We, Axletree, have used those same motives when making the popular Gravel Metric course, and there are many other events that do this with fantastic results.

This was not our blueprint for creating the Ten Thousand.

Simply put, we had one goal in mind when creating this route: Find the raddest roads with the most stunning intrinsic beauty, whatever their surface.
Granted, well over half the roads did end up being gravel. As we all know, seldom used gravel roads tend to follow awkward and indirect routes, and that is great for us cyclists. That is also great for us event organizers looking for pretty roads that go up big hills.

Win, meet win.

With that said, don’t be surprised when you find yourself on an eight mile stretch of pavement now and then. Those roads are not merely connectors to get back to the good stuff, those roads are the good stuff. Sit up and look around you, if you can breathe. Take in the wonderful day on the bicycle you are experiencing. After all, our guiding mindset was to show you what we feel are some of the very best roads in our entire state, and beyond, if we may be so bold.
There will be lots, and lots, and lots of gravel, simply because those roads are good. But be ready for miles of great pavement also, especially if you are doing the full loop.

Ten Thousand. It’s not a gravel road race, nor a paved road race, it’s just a rad road race.

Come ride with us.


ROSTER (closed)

Here is the final roster. These people are in for the inaugural running of a great time.


Clapp, Lenny
Depauw, Tobie
Frieders, Dean
Gecik, Brendan
Nevdal, Aaron

-The Bicycle Industry Is Slow And Chubby
Harris, Joe
Sachs, Robby
Walz, Jerod

-Big Shiny Knobs
Coffman, Scott
Hein, Dan
Mueller, Chad

-Club de Cyclisme TATI
Bo, Loren
D’Evelyn, Kara
Mann, Katie
Smith, Carrie

-Craft & Steel Cycling
Biafora, Sam
Hren, Doug
Vernagallo, Joe

-Pessimistic, Pragmatic, Optimists
Engling, Dan
Fordyce, John
Lacher, Chad

-Stay Rad Adventure Team
Alexander, Eric
Hukill, Joel
Schratz, Jon

–Team Swallow Bicycle Works
Lytle, Mary
Swallow, Sarah
Swallow, Tom

-The Team With No Name
Carpenter, Paul
Doyle, Mike
Mann, Joe

Solo Women:

Chilton, Alexandra
Cohen, Andrea
Demitrack, Alexandra
Forsyth, Gillian
Guagliardo, Sydney 
Kloeckner, Kierstin
Rice, Sarah
Takeshita, Kae
Upshaw, June
Van Horn, Brenda
Wagner, Beth
Zmuda, Allison

Solo Men:

Berman, Michael
Bonzer, Zach
Buri, Russell
Chamberlainm, Joel
Cohen, Andrew
Collins, Mark
Eiten, Dan
Elliott, Tim
Falk, Ryan
Feller, Mike
Fisher, Jeff
Flynn, Tom
Fonda, Dave
Foster, Grant
Franxon, Jeff
Fry, Jeremy
Gaikowski, Jason
Gatto, John
Glahn, Jake
Halsall, Keith
Halverson, Jeff
Harding, Craig
Hau, Tim
Heckelsmiller, Adam
Hejny, Timothy J.
Hobson, Dan
Hock, Isaac
Hoffman, Ed
Hussung, Chad
Johnson, Mark
Jones, Greg
Kabacinski, Tom
Leach, Brandon
Learn, Matthew
Lemberger, Michael
Lesiewicz, Chad
Mayden, Charles
McCarthy, John Paul
McCollum, Dave
McGrath, Tim
Monko, Peter
Mulligan, Sean
Neff, Rob
Negley, Chase
Newbrey, Bailey
Oleson, Andy
Olney, John
O’Neil, Kevin
Orleans, John
Pernice, Alex
Perrow, Nicholas
Peters, Michael
Reeder, Sean
Saha, Hank
Schauwecker, Kurt
Schueler, Dennis
Sheppard, Jared
Swinard, Paul
Swinard, Peter
Sybert, Tom
Szokarski, Daniel
Van Horn, Don
Wegscheid, Brent
Wolforth, Eric
York, Ken




A long time ago the land of Northern Illinois was a rugged place, corrugated with bluffs, hills, and rolling prairie. 250,000 years ago glaciers came in and flattened most of that awesome into boringness. Glaciers are jerks. Unknown to many, though, a small sliver of rolling, rugged terrain remains in Illinois.

We invite you to come explore this wonderful byproduct of glacial neglect.



The Roman Numeral for 10,000 is an “X” with a line above it. We think that is pretty rad, so we’re sticking to it.
July 12th. 7am. Krape Park, Freeport.

Starting in Freeport Illinois, teams of three and teams of one will cover two hundred kilometers (or one hundred twenty five miles) and ascend ten thousand ft. The road surface will be a mixture of gravel, pavement, and curse words.

Bring friends, form a team, create memories, help each other through suffering.




–       This is a Gentlemans Race format. Teams of three or more* riders will work together to accomplish their goal: survive with dignity.
*Teams limited to 3-300 riders. Teams larger then 300 must be broken into smaller teams.

–       Teams will be required to arrive at the checkpoint and finish together, you know, like a team.

–       While it is inevitable that one rider on a team will be physically slower than the others, do not underestimate the mental strength it will take to ride as a team for 10+ hours. Turtles and hares and what not.

–       Camaraderie, accomplishment, and memories are what this event is all about.

–       Solo:  If you like putting the “I” in team, we have something for you. We understand not everyone has two friends. We also understand you may like this sort of torture by yourself. Come, ride your bike, have fun, suffer, but don’t expect any shoulders to cry on.





Just like every Axletree event, registration for this event is free. We have donated our time and energy into making this event what it is, and hope you enjoy it. Due to the nature of this event we will have registration ahead of time so we know who to expect.

Registration ends Sunday July 6th at midnight. After that date no new teams or solo riders may register. A team may substitute a member in the event something comes up. Life happens.

To register send an email to with “Ten Thousand” in the subject line and the following information:


Solo or Team:

Team Name: (Keep it clean, or we will name your team for you, and it will be super cute. No exceptions.)

Teammates: (When you send us an email, CC in your teammates to keep everyone aware)

Please also RSVP to the Facebook event HERE. This does not register you for the event, but it does make you look cooler to your friends.

Day of:

You and your team will need to arrive at Krape Park between 6:00am-6:45am to sign the waiver, collect a cue sheet, and get your final preparations in order before the 7am start. Sunrise is at 5:33am that day,which is when the park opens, so up and at em.  (Sunset is at 8:26, for what it’s worth.)



I have spent many hours riding, exploring, and looking at maps of the Nor’western Territory of Illinois, starting with charts from the Louisiana Purchase. This route is the end product of those long hours. Roads were chosen based on scenic qualities, topographic challenges, and lack of automobiles. A lot of these roads are gravel, some are pavement, and some are “other”.

The first and last 12 miles are relatively flat, so you will doubt us at first. We recommend you treat these sections as warm-up and cool-down. Or bury yourself, whatever floats your goat.


Cue Sheets/GPS:

This ride will be guided via cue sheets, with a GPS alternative. If you are bad at directions, get lost easily, or expect markings on every corner, I suggest you pick your teammates wisely.

Riders will get cue sheets to checkpoint #1 (mile 42) at the starting line. Riders making it to checkpoint #1 within 4.5 hours receive the cuesheet to complete the route. Riders reaching Checkpoint #1 after 4.5 hours will receive a truncated cue sheet sending them back to Freeport on the latter half of the route. This shortened route will still give riders 72 miles and 5,300ft of climbing. This is a non-negotiable time limit, chosen for your safety and our sanity.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for the “X” mark on the course at particularly tricky spots. It will indicate you should probably turn. We may put that on your hands at checkpoints because we think it would be hilarious if everyone who completed the event ended up looking straightedge. Because if you’re not now, you never were.

Don’t forget to bring a calibrated computer with you to navigate.  Preferably not a laptop/desktop, but that’s your prerogative.

I will also post a GPX file before the event. I originally was going to do the route entirely by cue sheets, but with roads that are shaped less like lego blocks, and more like spider webs, I thought it wise to provide a secondary navigation option. My main goal is to help people see some amazing roads in the prettiest part of Illinois, and less to make people solve their way through a labyrinth.

The route will be released with further instructions 3-5 days before the event.



There will be only one gas station resupply on the route, around mile 86. There will also be water available at Checkpoint #1 at mile 42. Riders will need to carry a significant amount of calories and water to finish this event. If you come with two water bottles, you are a silly, silly person. I hope your teammates can carry you back. Remember, July. Once again, July.

There will be no drop bags or outside assistance allowed.  If you can not carry enough water and supplies, then the New Belgium Tour de Fat is that same day, and could be a better option for you.


Sag Wagon:


Call your wife, husband, brother, nephew’s cousin’s roommate, friend, Mom, etc. We are not picking you up. This is self-supported, you and your team are on your own. Please, be prepared, or bring boy scouts. Those kids are always prepared.

Support vehicles are forbidden on the route, unless you quit and they are taking you back to civilization. Having team vehicles roaming the course creates an unneeded element that other riders shouldn’t have to deal with when they are climbing, descending, and enjoying their day on their bicycles.
Support vehicles also make riders nonchalant concerning their preparation and navigation.  Don’t do that, be as chalant as possible.

Lastly, please remember to bring a helmet and flashing lights for the front and rear of your bike. You might think flashing lights are overkill since you are leaving at 7am, but you might think a lot of things. Be prepared.


Salsa Cycles, supporter of rad things big and small, is our main sponsor. The ride is totally self supported and there are no prizes, so our sponsorship deal went something like this:

US: “Hey Salsa, we’re having a really cool endurance event in the middle of nowhere where no endurance event this hard should be – want to put your name on it?” 

THEM: “Heck yeah! Can we send some bottles and blog up about it?”

US: “Heck yeah!”

And so on… for three more hours.




Please let us know if you have any questions.

More details will be released via the Facebook page here. It will mostly just be cool pictures of the roads in the area, and other such things.

PS. Remember to register via