Saturday, July 31, 2010

3,000 Miles

Today I reached 3,000 miles, so I still have a good shot at my first 5,000-mile season.

Between 1988 and 2003 I didn't own a bike. When I bought a mountain bike in 2003, I certainly didn't think of myself as a cyclist. Things changed in 2004 and I became a compulsive statistics keeper. Here's the breakdown since then:

2009: 4,800 miles
2008: 3,787 miles
2007: 4,410 miles
2006: 3,161 miles
2005: 3,050 miles
2004: 1,454 miles

In 2008 I was on pace for a personal record when a broken collarbone set me back. Hopefully there are no nasty surprises awaiting me this year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Want You

Since returning from vacation I have fought the erroneous impression that summer is over. It’s simply not true, and there are many more weeks of warm weather ahead. But I know why I feel this way: cycling. The day before my vacation ended, the Tour de France reached its conclusion in Paris. Now it will be another month before the Vuelta begins, and in the interim there won’t be much to excite a fan of the pro peloton.

But I’m not just a fan. I ride. Whether I ultimately view 2010 as a success is still mine to decide. I have had to clear my schedule of races and just about anything else with a registration fee, but I’m reworking my schedule to ensure that I do more than just spin without purpose through the remainder of the year.

Fortunately there are several Washington County Bicycle Club events in the coming weeks, and both Cream City and Bay View will be in my neck o’ the woods before the end of the club ride season. Weeknights are weeknights: I get whatever miles I can after work. But weekends should be and will be special. Here’s what I have in mind to get through August. Please join me if you can, or suggest other ride options. I’m looking for people to share the experience, as I always find it more motivating and fun to ride with others.
  • 7/31 @ West Bend — Washington County Bicycle Club Ride (33 miles)
  • 8/01 @ Clyman Junction — Wild Goose State Trail (metric century)
  • 8/07 TBA
  • 8/08 @ Richfield — Cream City’s “Around the Barns,” (metric century*)
  • 8/14 @ Newburg — Washington County Bicycle Club Ride (32 miles)
  • 8/15 @ West Bend — Cream City’s “Mayville Towering Maze,” (metric century*)
  • 8/21 @ Trenton — Time Trial (my 3.7-mile road course)
  • 8/22 @ Kewaskum — Time Trial (my 14.3-mile trail course)
  • 8/28 @ West Bend — Washington County Bicycle Club Ride (32 miles)
  • 8/29 @ Waterford — Cream City Cycle Club Century (100 miles)
The asterisks indicate rides I intend to make into metric centuries by riding to and from the start/finish locations; the actual routes are a little shorter. And as much as I would like to do the Cream City Cycle Club Century on Aug. 29, I won’t do it solo. Contact me if you want a ride partner, otherwise I’ll find something else to do on that date. My time trials will be part of longer rides on Aug. 21 & 22 … unless something else comes up. The on-road TT is so short that I could easily do it on a weeknight instead.

With a solid and sustained effort between now and the end of November, I will reach 5,000 miles for the first time in a single calendar year. That’s a good goal. Will you help me reach it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back From Vacation

They ain't kidding: 12 percent on an unpaved rec trail!

I’m back from summer vacation, a week in Pennsylvania devoted mostly to family but not entirely devoid of cycling opportunities. And to whatever extent you find this blog worth reading, it’s the cycling opportunities in which you’ll be interested. (Just between us, I would have had a much better vacation if I had spent more time in the saddle.)

Opportunity #1: I didn’t take my Raleigh Competition, opting instead to drop it off at Mountain Outfitters to get the shifting issues fixed. I knew that would take a few days, so it made sense to have the work done at a time when I wouldn’t miss the bike. I got it back from the shop today, but I won’t get to ride it until tomorrow.

Opportunity #2: I freely admit that I’m a fan of Performance Bike and think that its clothing line represents a great value. The value becomes greater still when you shop at Performance’s retail store in Newark DE, just a little south of Philadelphia. “Happy Hour” runs from 12 noon until 2 p.m. every Tuesday afternoon, offering an extra 10% off clothing and accessories. And there’s no sales tax in Delaware. It’s like stealing. I got two Ultra jerseys (allegedly manufactured by Pearl Izumi, and much improved over last year), a pair of Century gel shorts, and a 12-pack of Clif bars for a total of $96.

Opportunity #3: With only the Giant FCR3 at my disposal and apparently no safe road route anywhere near my parents’ subdivision, I returned to the Perkiomen Trail last Wednesday to finish what I had started way back in 2004. That was the first year I thought of myself as a cyclist, and that summer I took a short ride on the Perkiomen Trail with my trusty Gary Fisher Wahoo. But I didn’t complete the trail. This year I did it all and more: the Perkiomen Trail connects to the Schuylkill River Trail, so I rode a little of that too for a total of 43 miles. Maybe on my next trip I’ll ride the entire trail network from Green Lane to central Philadelphia and back. With a couple of excursions on the smaller connecting trails that I have yet to explore, that could turn into a dirty century.

Of my other cycling exploits little needs to be said. I was putting my work in, trying not to lose too much fitness during a week of restaurant food and family picnic pig-outs. Tomorrow while I’m evaluating the newly tuned-up Raleigh, I’ll also be evaluating myself. Not looking forward to my next weigh-in on Sunday …

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Morning Bad, Afternoon Good

2010 Raleigh Venture 3.0

Morning Bad: What if we threw a Washington County Bicycle Club ride and nobody came? We almost found today. Only Fred Hansen and I showed up for the ride out of Hartford. In fairness to the other members, nobody else indicated that he/she would attend. But still ... just two people on a sunny, 80-degree morning in July? That's pathetic, but it's also a continuation of the attendance pattern we've seen all year. Special rides like last week's Windmills & Hills attract members and guests alike, while ordinary club rides do not. At the planning meeting for the 2011 season, I will expect my fellow club members to recognize, at long last, that the riders we want to reach are not the beginners for whom today's 19-mile option was too intimidating, but are instead the stronger riders for whom today's 30-mile option was unworthy.

Afternoon Good: After the ride I took my road bike to Mountain Outfitters to get the shifting dialed-in. I also had arranged to meet my friend Jim there. He drove up from Menomonee Falls in search of a good all-around bike for riding in town and on well-behaved trails like the Bugline and the Eisenbahn. After a couple of test rides he chose a 2010 Raleigh Venture 3.0 and headed back home as happy as a kid on Christmas. Welcome to cycling, Jim! I'm looking forward to showing you around West Bend's trails and taking you up the Eisenbahn. Go get a few miles between now and the end of summer and we'll do an Autumn Colors Ride up to Eden and back.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Familiar, Yet Different

The only imperative this evening was to ride. I cut through West Bend on the Eisenbahn State Trail, then headed almost straight north to the New Fane mountain bike trails. I figured there would be a couple of familiar faces among the fat-tire folks, so I stopped for a few minutes to say hello. When I resumed I didn't have any idea which route I wanted to take home, I knew only that I didn't want today's route to be a simple out-and-back. I ended up with a pretty decent little 30-miler, using nothing but familiar roads but putting them together in a combination I don't think I have used before. It's nice to have options. Recently I rode with a visitor from Colorado who was blown away by the intricate network of rural roads that we take for granted. Today I was very conscious of how fortunate we are to be surrounded by such great roads and such great trails.

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Don't Mess With The Johan

Fit for kindling, not for Kindle-ing.

Geez, and I like Levi Leipheimer. But all work and no ride makes Dave an insufferable bastard. And just why didn't I ride this evening? Regardez:

Align CenterI can't tell you how many times bad weather has seemed to confine itself to my stomping grounds. It's like there's a target painted on the roof of my house. This evening we had a tornado warning just south of West Bend. You don't mess with that either.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


As bad as it looks, and then some.

Yesterday I brought you a beauty. Today I bring you a beast.

The Washington County Bicycle Club's Windmills & Hills ride lived up to its name. I'll assume that you're familiar enough with windmills, but you might not know about Katzenburg Drive. The elevation profile above doesn't do it justice ... literally. Elevation profiles on MapMyRide top out at 20 percent, and Katzenburg is steeper than that in spots. Located halfway between Campbellsport and Theresa, Katzenburg is a climb that you can see coming but it immediately erases whatever momentum you have built in anticipation. I was the first rider to summit this bugger today, but before I did I fell below 6 mph and my heart rate soared to 175 bpm,
95 percent of my maximum. Because I rode to the start of today's event, I already had more than 40 miles in my legs before I hit Katzenburg, but I don't know how much more I could have gotten out of myself even with fresher legs.

We had a good turnout, great weather and a great route by Jimmy Scharrer, who's never afraid to send people skyward. I'm not sure how many vertical feet of climbing we encountered today. I do know that I burned more than 3,000 calories and finished the day with 72 miles. It was a good effort.

Friday, July 9, 2010


This Holly. She pretty. Me never want her stage previews to end. Screw race itself. More Holly.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alligator Arms

I’m having a crisis of motivation, and the long Independence Day weekend didn’t help.

We had close-to-perfect weather on Saturday and still only four members showed up for the Washington County Bicycle Club ride in Germantown. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: our club rides fail because there’s nothing special about them and because our members treat them as events of last resort, events in which they participate only if they can’t find something better to do. Attendance at our longer, more challenging “Adventure Rides” is consistently higher. We should remember that when we’re planning the 2011 calendar.

Fortunately we had two guest riders on Saturday, visitors from Kentucky and Colorado who were in the area for the holiday weekend and had found us through our website. It was great to have them on the ride. But by the end of August the website will go away; we simply can’t afford to keep it running. Will people find us on Facebook or at our new file repository? I doubt it.

While club ride attendance has been poor all season, it certainly didn’t help on Saturday that there was a Cream City Cycle Club ride at UW-Washington County. That event drew away a few people who otherwise probably would have ridden with the WCBC. We simply can’t compete with the bigger clubs in our area. When the Cream City and Bay View clubs ride in Washington County, we should encourage our members to support those events. Instead of being the first club to publish its 2011 calendar, we should be the last. That will keep us out of the Bike Fed’s annual ride guide, but there’s no evidence to suggest riders are coming to us from that source. We still will be able to publish our calendar through Silent Sports (and, by extension, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

So, midway through the 2010 club season my goal for 2011 is to be less ambitious. That’s not what I would have liked, but I need to be realistic about how much a small and unmotivated club can achieve. And demoralized by the ongoing failure of the club, I’m finding it hard to rally myself for personal achievements in the second half of 2010. I won’t lie: buying a new bike has blown the cycling budget. Paying entry fees for races and centuries seems like a really bad idea. If you need a teammate/partner, let me know. Otherwise, I don’t think I’ll be reaching for my wallet until next year. In the meantime I still have my personal time trial routes to challenge my fitness, and I’m still on pace for my first 5,000-mile year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Time for Le Tour

Who will win the 2010 Tour de France? I think I know, but what do you think? The poll on the right-hand side of this page will stay open until the end of the second rest day, July 21.

And no, I didn't overlook any French contenders; there aren't any French contenders.