Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 Wisconsin Bike Festival

Work before play.
This weekend was all about the Wisconsin Bike Festival. Things started on Saturday with the Wisconsin Women Century. Teammate Justin Schroeter and I ran the Cedar Lake Wayside rest stop just outside West Bend. Our volunteer time was repaid today with free entries in the Holy Hill Classic, a century ride that each of us wanted to use as a tune-up for Race The Lake on August 13.

I had not ridden farther than 63 miles this season. But endurance wasn’t my biggest concern; the weather was. How could that be? Today was sunny, dry, and our first 80° day since last Sunday. The answer is that it was eventually an 80° day. At 6 a.m. when the ride began in Cedarburg, the temperature was only 54° and I was dressed for October: thermal long-sleeve jersey, knee warmers … even a plastic shopping bag stuffed inside my jersey as a disposable wind block. I knew the day would warm up, but I didn’t know whether it would warm up fast enough.

The field for today’s ride was small. I recognized a few strong local roadies, but it seemed to be mostly a triathlon crowd. Justin and I committed to ride together, and eventually we settled in with a couple of guys who seemed to be compatible with our objectives. We weren’t out to kill this one.

Justin’s a big, strong boy. Get behind him into a headwind and out of his way on a descent. But he knew he would be tested by more than 4,400 feet of climbing on today’s route. This year’s Race The Lake will be longer and hillier than previous editions, so Justin’s takeaway from today is to keep riding hills over the next two weeks.

My takeaway has nothing to do with conditioning. I was very comfortable in the hills today and I handled the distance easily. My takeaway is to get my road bike fixed! About 60 miles into the ride, a spring broke in my rear derailleur. Fortunately that left me with my easiest gearing combination for tough climbs: 34x27. Unfortunately I was spinning out at about 16 mph in my 50x27 when the route went flat, and I wasn’t about to ride 40 miles like that. When the route passed close to West Bend I said goodbye to my companions and detoured home to get my cyclocross bike ... and to change out of the thermal clothes! At the moment my cyclocross bike is outfitted with 700x32 slicks—good enough to get me back to Cedarburg. I have never started a century I couldn’t finish, and I wasn’t about to end the streak today. I improvised a route that allowed me to complete the 100 miles, and I still got my 4,400+ feet of climbing.

It was my first century since August 2, 2014. It was also the exclamation point on a 13-hour, 217-mile week. The week to come looks wet and much cooler than I would like. It also brings the first of this year’s Tuesday evening cyclocross practices, an altogether different kind of effort that I expect will be a real shock to my system. And it’s back on the mountain bike next weekend, not to race—I couldn’t be less interested in the WORS event at La Crosse on August 6—but to look for more improvement in my skills. Juggling the not-so-complementary needs of race preparation for road, mountain, and cyclocross is no easy task.

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