Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pick The Winner

The 2011 Tour de France will begin on Saturday.  Who is your pick to win the General Classification?  The poll in the right-hand column of this page will remain open until the first rest day, July 11.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spanning The Mighty Milwaukee

More than a year ago I mentioned that West Bend was replacing an old snowmobile bridge with a nice new one that would link Quaas Creek Park and Wingate Creek Business Park.  Construction of the bridge and the boardwalk that leads to it was completed a few weeks ago but until today I didn’t have a picture.

The picture shows the bridge from its north end, looking south into Quaas Creek Park where it joins the Riverfront Parkway.  Heading north from the bridge is a 200-yard gravel path to the corner of Stockhausen Lane and Enterprise Street.  The old span was used mostly by snowmobiles, but the new bridge, boardwalk and trail extensions are very welcoming for cyclists and pedestrians.  And there’s a new canoe launch, accessible by boardwalk on the south side.  What was a remote corner of the park is now a key piece of the city’s infrastructure for non-motorized transportation and recreation.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crushed Gravel

Felt a little like one of these today, only faster.
Back from a week in Pennsylvania, I wanted to do something special to regain momentum for my cycling season.  I rode last Monday, Tuesday and Friday to keep my fitness from slipping too far, but those rides added up to only 65 miles.  Yes, there were some tough hills, but mostly I was touring the subdivisions near my Mom’s house.  Today I needed to make more of an effort, so I did my Eisenbahn State Trail time trial.  As always, the Giant FCR3 was my weapon of choice for the gravel trail.

It’s a little more than 9½ miles from my house to 2nd Street in Kewaskum where the TT begins, and that distance makes for a good warmup.  I knew right away that I had good legs and I thought a personal record was possible.  But I didn’t expect to beat the old mark by such a big margin!  I reached the Eden town line sign in 46:27, averaging 18.6 mph over the 14.4-mile course.  That blows away the previous mark—set on May 23, 2010—of 49:44, an average of 17.25 mph over 14.3 miles.  I don’t know how to account for the extra distance today.  I will remeasure on my next trip to Eden, and I may have to settle on an average distance rather than one I have to recalculate with every attempt.

Despite being gone for a week, things are good on the home front: all laundry is done, the grass is cut, the pantry is restocked with groceries.  And it looks like I don’t have a big backlog of work to sort out tomorrow, so hopefully this will be a good week of training capped off by the three-day Fourth of July weekend.  What I’m training for … remains something of a mystery.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


My father died today.  I will spend next week in Pennsylvania with my mother, sister, extended family and friends.  Dad’s death was neither sudden nor surprising.  I am saddened by it, of course, but I also feel relief that his struggle is done and that my mother and sister can begin to move on to happier pursuits than the vigils they kept this week.  Dad lived his last years in a long-term care facility as dementia robbed him of his ability to care for himself, to recognize his loved ones and, eventually, to communicate.  His mind underwent a shockingly rapid decline while his body endured, and we lost more of him each day.  At the end, grief is dulled by long use.

Some of my readers knew to expect this news.  I am grateful for their understanding and support.  By next weekend I will be back in West Bend, back on the bike and, hopefully, in possession of some good news to share with you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Struggling To Stay Motivated

Last week was not good to me.  It started on Monday with a rest day that immediately felt like an opportunity wasted: it was 93 degrees and I do love the heat.  On Tuesday we hit 95 and I reveled in it, riding 45 miles after work.  I planned to do a short, hard ride early on Wednesday but it didn’t happen, then my softball team played poorly and dropped to 4-2.  I didn’t have an opportunity to ride on Thursday and I didn’t want to on Friday when the high temperature was a mere 54.  That’s fine for March but I found it so depressing that I didn’t even consider riding.  Saturday was another bummer: overcast and 59.  I had to force myself to ride and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

On Sunday I made a little comeback, riding 50 miles in under 3 hours.  I averaged 17.4 mph on a rolling route that took me to Germantown, Mequon, Cedarburg and Newburg.  I found that I can’t get into my 12-tooth cog when I’m in my big ring, so I’ll need to address that in the week to come.

I’m still undecided about Ride the Rock next Sunday.  I don’t have the fitness to do well, but it still makes sense to go ... do what the guys in the Critérium du Dauphiné did over the last week and treat the race as training.  We’ll see.  If rain moves in next weekend, I’m out.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Have you seen the light ... at the intersection of Decorah and River?
By next Thursday I will have reached 5,000 hits on this blog since its inception on May 7, 2010.  I’ve had hits from Germany (I think Jens Voigt digs me), the United Kingdom (Mark Cavendish self-Googling), Russia (“Party always finds you”), Canada (no doubt due to my brief flirtation with Rocky Mountain), India (tech support), South Korea (spoofed IP address that allows North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il to surf anonymously), Netherlands (Rabobank wants its jersey back), Lithuania (I am to Vilnius as Jerry Lewis is to Paris), and Colombia (which for some reason wants to know how many balloons filled with cocaine I think I could swallow).

But most of my hits have come from the good ol’ USA.  If I could break them down further I probably would see that most have come from the same four or five guys.  And by now those guys have probably gotten their invitation to join a new road ride that will start next Thursday evening in West Bend and, hopefully, repeat every Thursday throughout the summer.  The ride will attempt to recapture the spirit of the old Pedal Moraine Ride, circa 2007-2009.  Even if you didn't get an invitation through Facebook, you're invited: high school parking lot, June 16, ride starts at 6 p.m.  Be there.

Now, I am not the ride owner but I have agreed to help with the routing.  My first inclination is to create a different route for each week.  Good plan?  You tell me: what would you like to see?  The rides are supposed to be roughly 30 miles long and should take 1.5-2 hours to complete.  Post comments here or on Facebook.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pump Up The Volume

In anticipation of my first mountain bike race, last month I spent a fair amount of time working on skills.  I needed to develop them—I still do—but it almost felt like I wasn’t really riding.  Generally, I ride better as I ride more.  The sluggish pace with which I was building my mileage total was, for me, cause for alarm.  During the week of the Greenbush race I rode only 61 miles, including the race itself.

But with the race behind me, I’m back to what I really do best: chewing up miles.  I covered 229 miles with 5 rides in the last 7 days.  Monday’s time trial was the high-intensity portion of a 50-mile ride.  Tuesday was a planned rest day.  On Wednesday I did an easy 25 miles before my softball game.  (The right quadriceps, injured on May 11, held up fine and my team improved to 4-1.)  Thursday unintentionally turned into another rest day as a combination of factors kept me off the bike.  On Friday I put in a solid 50-miler on the Eisenbahn State Trail, riding to Eden and back for the second time this year.  On Saturday I did the Washington County Bicycle Club ride and today, with a smaller group, I went back to Port Washington for the second day in a row.

The new week will start with rest on Monday, then on Tuesday I will make a more intense effort than this weekend’s rides required.  On Wednesday I plan a short-but-intense lunchtime ride to break up my workday; I have a 6 p.m. softball game that will prevent me from riding after work.  Thursday?  We’ll see.  It might be time to reintroduce a spirited West Bend-based group ride on Thursday evenings … more on that soon.

I’m still trying to find the right schedule to accommodate endurance rides, high-intensity efforts, and skill-building days on the mountain bike trails.  And I’m still undecided on my next competition goal.  The WORS race at Wausau is now just a week away and that seems too soon.  I’m tempted to make the June 19 Wisport race at Fort Atkinson the focus of my training during the next two weeks.  I did the inaugural Ride the Rock in 2007 but haven’t been back since.

Tonight I unwound by watching the Critérium du Dauphiné and the TD Bank International Championship on Versus.  (Unfortunately I didn’t realize that earlier in the afternoon Versus showed highlights from last weekend’s US championships, won by Dave Zabriskie and Matthew Busche.)  Versus will have same-day coverage from the Dauphiné throughout the coming week, plus Tour de Suisse coverage next Saturday and Sunday.