Saturday, January 25, 2020

Hugh Jass Fun At Regner Park

This morning the Hugh Jass Fat Bike Series—now in its 5th season—made its West Bend debut, and Team Pedal Moraine was there in force: in the race and in the big crowd of spectators. The team met at Pedal Moraine for breakfast before descending on Regner Park. I was the breakfast maker and the photo taker. These were the racers:

Matt Grady

Brad Heckert

Samantha Heckert

Scott Palmersheim

Bob Zimmermann

In a series that places fun first and competition second (see “Beer Shortcut” above), good times were had by one and all! Not a bad way to spend a snowy Saturday.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I’m Down With It

Don’t you just hate it when the road race from Australia is over at 3 a.m. and you have to kill almost 4 hours before the start of the cyclocross race from France? That was my unhappy lot today between the Tour Down Under Classic Criterium and the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Nommay. But I made it, and I was treated to terrific duels in both the women’s and men’s World Cup races. Can’t usually say that, but Mathieu van der Poel wasn’t in today’s race, so the outcome wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

As for the criterium … well, crits are crits, all over the world. Whether you’re watching your buddies fly around a local office park or you’re watching UCI World Tour professionals on the streets of Adelaide, it’s the same minimally satisfying fan experience. There’s the early breakaway, the late catch, and the inevitable bunch sprint. You could set your watch to it. As bike racing goes, a criterium is better than nothing. In a larger sense, the same is true of the entire Tour Down Under.

The Tour Down Under is the first proper stage race since the Vuelta a EspaƱa way back in September. (If you think I’m going to count China’s Tour of Guangxi, held October 17-22, then you are sadly mistaken.) Everyone is hungry to start the new season, so they don’t mind that the race itself isn’t that great. The Tour Down Under is mostly flat. It favors the sprinters, and I am no fan of sprint stages. Still, I look forward to it every year. Why? Because January in Wisconsin sucks, but January in Australia is the height of summer. Every day for the next week, the Tour Down Under will give me a couple of hours of escapism. And I won’t be the only one being entertained: the Tour Down Under enjoys enthusiastic fan support in the communities through which it passes. In that respect it contrasts dramatically with the stage races in the Middle East that really serve only as warmups for the Spring Classics. For whatever reason, that makes a difference to me. Watching a race from Oman or Qatar is like watching a training ride: nobody cares, so why should I? That won’t be a problem next weekend when the Tour Down Under concludes atop Willunga Hill. It’s just too bad South Australia doesn’t have five more hills like that one.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Presenting The 2020 Cheesehead Roubaix

The 11th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix will begin at Newburg Fireman’s Park on Sunday, April 26, at 9 a.m.  Inspired by Spring Classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, Cheesehead Roubaix is a 63-mile ride that features almost 10 miles of dirt and gravel. The ride will test your fitness with rough road conditions and about 2,000 feet of climbing.

Cheesehead Roubaix is free of charge, but please consider making a voluntary contribution to the Newburg Fire Department to show your appreciation for the use of its facility. There will be a donations jar at the concessions stand before and after the ride. NFD is a small, all-volunteer department. Your generosity will make a big difference!

There will be a free, mid-ride rest stop courtesy of our friends from BELGIANWERKX. Please let us know you plan to attend so that we can ensure there’s enough food & drink at the rest stop. Join the fun at the Facebook event page, send me email, or leave a comment below.

Cheesehead Roubaix is designed for self-sufficient cyclists. The rest stop will be your only support. The ride uses only open public roads and park paths. You are responsible for your own safety and conduct, and you are expressly not exempt from Wisconsin traffic laws. Represent the sport well. Please visit the Cheesehead Roubaix website and print out your own copy of the cuesheet and map. The website also offers data files for GPS devices.

See you on April 26!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020’s First 20 Miles

A 46° afternoon with brilliant sunshine and only light winds on January 2? I’ll take that! It’s always a great feeling to chalk up the first miles of a new season. I wasn’t too ambitious today—there’s still snow, ice, and wet roads out there—and I’m not going to be too ambitious all winter. Today’s ride was slow going at 1 hour, 25 minutes, but it was way more fun than spinning in place down in the home gym.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: A Statistical Review

It was a good year, not a great year.

In 2019, my 16th season as a cyclist, I rode 162 times for a total of 4,557 miles. That’s my 8th-highest ride total and my 10th-highest mileage total, all-time. Last year I rode 183 times for a total of 5,358 miles, so the drop-off this year was kind of like wiping out the entire month of July. But in last year’s recap I predicted lower totals for 2019, and I did surpass my goal of 3,087 miles, so there’s that.

I did 1 gravel road race and 6 cyclocross races in 2019, numbers in which I am disappointed. The cyclocross season was cold and wet, and I’m not one of those people who thinks that’s how cyclocross should be. I fully expect to race cyclocross again next fall … when I can live with the conditions. Gravel, though, might be much more of a focal point in 2020. My racing schedule is only beginning to fill out. But mountain biking probably is not part of my plans. WORS is switching to a mostly-Saturday calendar that doesn’t fit well with my work schedule, and WEMS has always been a Saturday series. Gravel and road events may dominate my 2020 until the cyclocross season begins.

My “official” mileage goal for the new season will be a very modest 3,530, the number I need to reach 75,000 lifetime miles. Unofficially, I’m expecting a big year. I am shooting for 13 metric centuries in 2020 to bring my lifetime total to 100. I rode only 5 metric centuries this year, so 13 won’t be an easy target.

Outdoor cycling is the biggest component of my fitness regimen, but it’s not the only activity. Hiking, rucking, and snowshoeing kept me moving on 10 occasions in 2019 when the weather wouldn’t permit cycling. On 9 other bad weather dates, I turned to the turbo trainer in the home gym. I hit the weights 138 times to keep the upper body strong. I avoided sickness and injury all year, and I never had more than a couple of consecutive days off from some kind of athletic activity.

So, yeah: good but not great. My challenge for the remainder of the winter is to find more goals beyond racing. That’s how I will ensure a great 2020.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Missing Only The Sunshine

OK, surely this 25-mile solo effort was the last bike ride of 2019. We cracked 50° for the fourth time in the last eight days, but we’re expecting an accumulating snowfall tomorrow and then a cold and windy New Year’s Eve. I’m done. I’ll post my year-end statistical summary on Tuesday or Wednesday.

This would have been a good day to take a camera along. I saw fog over every body of water, a Milwaukee River rushing with far greater than normal speed thanks to last night’s rain, a trio of workers in T-shirts putting a roof on a new house, and, strangest of all, entire families riding bicycles on the Eisenbahn State Trail. It felt like April out there, even riding past an abandoned but still snow-covered Sunburst ski hill … more’s the pity.