|A tour of four counties: Washington, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee.|
But hardness and foolhardiness aren’t the same thing. A brief rain shower delayed the start of today’s ride as I took shelter in the Barton Park pavilion with my three companions. That’s right: just four riders showed up for the club century. On the upside, each knew the others from hundreds (if not thousands) of miles ridden together and it was great to begin the ride in a group so capable and confident.
Our route took us north to New Fane, then northwest to Campbellsport. We hit a succession of big hills as we approached Eden and in the next several miles after we passed through town, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. At Armstrong we headed southeast, losing elevation all the while before we paused in Dundee for a bathroom break and a snack. It wasn’t quite halfway through the ride, but it was close enough and I really needed to lose my arm warmers. We were 2.5 hours into a ride that had begun with temperatures around 60 degrees but had become considerably warmer.
Reaching Newburg about 2 hours later with a total of 80 miles in our legs, we bought snacks and drinks at a minimart to see us through to the finish. At 75 miles elapsed, I had felt the first twinges of cramps in my left leg and I tried to eat and drink them away. Over the full duration of the ride, I consumed 4.5 bottles of sports drink, two Clif Bars, a Coke and a 3 Musketeers. I was fine for energy but didn’t keep the cramps at bay; they would limit my performance on the last 25 miles.
Our foursome dissolved as we approached West Bend. It would have been silly to return to Barton Park for the sake of form, so we all improvised the last few miles to reach our respective homes. On my 100 miles I had an average moving speed of 18.1 mph. Climbing? My Garmin registered 2,461 feet, but the total may actually be higher if my device under-reported today like it did for Cheesehead Roubaix.
Today’s ride was my first century since Aug. 6, 2011. The route was a hit with my fellow riders, but it probably won’t appear as a WCBC route again. To grow the club century we need to attract a larger and, frankly, less accomplished pool of riders. Today’s ride was good fun for a “hard man” group whose challenge was not to complete 100 miles, but to do so expeditiously.
Au Revoir, Tour de France
With my ride at its end, I was home in time to see the last few circuits of today’s final stage of the Tour de France. It was great to see Marcel Kittel win his fourth stage. During the last three weeks there were other good moments from riders like Jan Bakelants, Dan Martin, Christophe Riblon, Rui Costa and Nairo Quintana. But the Tour is really about the GC battle, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care how the race for 2nd place was going to play out. If Chris Froome really is just that much better than everyone else, good for him. I predicted his victory and he pretty much had it wrapped up at the end of the Stage 11 individual time trial. But such dominance by Froome and his team didn’t make for good racing in the days that followed. And Peter Sagan’s methodical accumulation of intermediate sprint points guaranteed his green jersey long before today’s finish in Paris. From my point of view, that makes two years in a row for the same not-very-interesting script.
Maybe I’m just more of a one-day race fan than a stage race fan. But I haven’t given up on the Grand Tours yet. Sometimes the Vuelta is the best stage race of the year. I have high hopes for it, and it’s just six weeks away.