Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where Did Winter Go?

And could we persuade it to stay there all the time?  I took advantage of yet another freakishly warm January day to close out the month with 117 miles.  That’s 117 more than I had ever ridden in January before!  The mileage total might have been a lot higher if things had gone according to plan in Georgia.  But the weird fact is that 4 of my 7 January rides were right here in West Bend, accounting for 72 of those miles.

Last year I didn’t reach 117 miles until March 10.  I had a personal record of 55 miles in February 2011.  That’s not much, and it could fall within days if the weather forecast is correct.  We’re looking at highs in the upper 30s and lower 40s through the weekend.  I will try to get out as frequently as I can, but I will restrict myself to roughly 1 hour for each ride.

For selfish reasons I hope February 11 isn’t especially nice.  Unusually warm weather would have a bad effect on attendance at Washington County Winter Bike Day, and I want the event to be a success.  Look again at what’s on offer at this year’s event—it’s not the same old trainer party you may remember from previous winters—and please let me know if you plan to attend.  You can “register” via Facebook.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Presenting The 2012 Cheesehead Roubaix

Keep on rockin' in the free world!
The third annual running of Cheesehead Roubaix will leave Fireman’s Park in Newburg at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 29.  As always, the event is free of charge and no registration is necessary.  However, if you plan to attend please indicate your participation at the Facebook events page, email me, or comment below.  That will help me to ensure that I have enough cuesheets for everyone.  Cheesehead Roubaix is an unsupported ride; you are expected to be self-sufficient.  It’s not a race, but it is an intentionally challenging ride during which you might find yourself alone on the route.  Know how to navigate and how to perform basic bike repairs.  We’ll pass Belgium and Fredonia twice on the route.  Those are your food and water stops if you need them.

This year’s Cheesehead Roubaix route will be slightly different than in years past.  The new start/finish in Newburg will give us ample parking—we nearly ran out of spaces last year at Goeden County Park.  The route is still a metric century with 8 unpaved sectors that total more than 9 miles of dirt and gravel.  In 2011 most riders detoured around the treacherous descent of Lovers Lane near Boltonville.  On this year’s ride, we’ll travel in a clockwise direction and that sector will be a climb.  Good luck!

As it is currently routed, Cheesehead Roubaix doesn’t qualify as a true “gravel grinder” by the standards set at Gravel Grinder News.  It’s not an all-gravel or even mostly-gravel event.  I could redraw the route to utilize some unpaved sectors more than once, but for me it’s more important to have a course that feels like it’s going somewhere.  It’s a ride, not a criterium.  In this part of Wisconsin, it’s remarkable that we still have any unpaved roads.  But I’m glad that we do and that other people also enjoy riding on them.

By setting the date for April 29 I have once again ensured that I won’t be participating in the BALLS Ride, a two-day adventure in south-central Wisconsin that covers most of the unpaved recreation trails in that area.  But BALLS already has reached its 50-rider limit.  It will be fine without me, and perhaps Cheesehead Roubaix can pick up some of the riders who wanted to do a little gravel grinding but didn’t register in time.

Also, I selected April 29 because on the previous weekend—April 21, to be exact—I might be tempted to try the inaugural Dairy Roubaix in Dodgeville.  That’s starting to get some attention and might be a fun event.  And there’s a new Facebook group called the Wisconsin Gravel Syndicate, which is dedicated to gravel road rides and races.  There’s also a new blog called Wisconsin Gravel Grinders, which is proposing a free, unsanctioned race on the Wild Goose State Trail.  Looks like all of my fellow nutjobs are starting to organize and collaborate!  It will be interesting to see how many new events come out of these initiatives.

So, three months from today: Cheesehead Roubaix.  It probably won't be very warm.  It probably will be very windy.  And the ride itself is supposed to be hard.  But if you give it a try, I know you'll love it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Georgia Trip: A Photo Essay

I drove home today but I still have Georgia on my mind.  These photos will give you a pretty good idea of how I lived for the last two weeks.  The cornerstone of my "Winter Training Camp" was good nutrition.  And nothing says good nutrition like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner almost every night:

Well, it was whole wheat bread, organic peanut butter and sugar-free blackberry jam, so that's pretty healthy in the world of PBJs.  And my beverage choice of skim milk with Ovaltine was better than soda, at least.  I took breakfast and lunch in the company cafeteria, eating lots of vegetables and passing on the desserts.

The fitness center was terrific.  I was able to keep up with my normal weightlifting routine, and I added some treadmill time just to mix things up.

I didn't try racquetball or handball, but the court was often busy with very serious-looking singles and doubles matches.  I snapped this shot during a quiet moment.  The observation windows are painted in a 1996 Olympics theme.

Just for fun, I played a little basketball.  Nothing serious, though, I just shot around.

My main fitness objective was to ride my bike.  In two weeks I managed only three outdoor rides.  Fortunately I had my trainer in the hotel room, so rainy days were merely a disappointment and not a completely wasted opportunity.

What a neat place!  If I hadn't been down there for a work assignment, if the trip really had been just a training camp, then this would have been an ideal location.  I caught a bad break with some uncharacteristically rainy weather, but the physical setting and the amenities were outstanding.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rides Of The Yankee

When you last heard from me I was kvetching about the lack of riding opportunities here in Georgia.  I rode on the day I arrived and then suffered a conspiracy of late workdays and rainy weather.  This week was better: I rode after work on Wednesday and again today.  But that’s it.  I’m done.  My grand total for “Winter Training Camp” is a paltry 45 miles.

What about next week?  Well, the work project that was supposed to be a three-week commitment is now taking a different course.  I will resume the work from home on Monday.  The entire project will require far more than the three weeks we initially predicted, and we’ve recognized that bringing the team together in teleconferences and web-based meetings will be at least as effective—and certainly cheaper—than bringing the team together in person.  So, my next “ride” is the 850-mile drive home.  I intend to bang it out tomorrow.

Atlanta’s weather will be nice this weekend and I would have had great opportunities to ride if I were staying.  That’s too bad.  But on a positive note, getting home early will give me an extra week to promote Washington County Winter Bike Day.  And I plan to spend Sunday morning watching streaming coverage of the UCI World Cyclocross Championships, something that would have been impossible with the slow Internet speeds I get in my hotel room.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not So Peachy

The training camp that I imagined for myself during my three weeks in Georgia hasn’t fully materialized.  Things aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either.  The 1-hour ride I enjoyed when I arrived last Sunday remains the only outdoor ride I’ve done.  My hopes for this weekend were washed away by rain.

On the bright side, I hit the weights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, just as I would have at home.  I also mixed in two 30-minute treadmill workouts and three 60-minute bike trainer workouts.  And I’ve played a little basketball, just for fun.  My diet has been very solid.  I have completely eliminated snacking and soft drinks, and I should return to Wisconsin a few pounds lighter if only because of those changes.

Sunset is at about 6 p.m. and last week I let that fact keep me from riding after work.  During the next two weeks I’ll try to show more ambition.  I have lights for the bike and if I just do loops of the office park I should be able to ride without worrying about motor vehicles.  I don’t want to risk next weekend being another washout and leaving me with only 16 miles to show for all my troubles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dave In Dixie

Howdy, y'all!

I guess you could say I have settled into a new—albeit temporary—way of life here in Georgia.  I arrived early Sunday afternoon and quickly unpacked before heading out for an hour-long ride around the beautiful residential neighborhoods near my company’s remarkable business campus.  One could, I suppose, be reasonably content just to ride laps around the campus itself.  There’s a pretty decent little hill to climb as the main service drive winds through tall pine trees.  I’m staying in a company-operated hotel that features a large workout room, basketball and racquetball courts, a two-lane bowling alley, a game room with table tennis and billiards and a cafeteria where I eat breakfast and lunch every day.  The quality and variety of the food is very good, the showers are hot and the bed is comfortable.  Glad I’m not paying for any of this!

My only real complaint about the accommodations is the TV in my room.  It’s small, the channel selection is poor and what channels I do have vary greatly in video and audio quality.  And there’s no NBC Sports Network, which means no daily highlights from the Tour Down Under.  (History shows that nearly every stage is a lifeless slog through a flat, arid wasteland, finishing with a bunch sprint.  Maybe I’m not missing anything.)

I suppose dinner would be nice, too.  But the cafeteria closes after lunchtime and I’m on my own.  Because I have a microwave and a refrigerator in my room, I bought some groceries and so far have contented myself with very simple evening meals.  Simple and healthy.  I have been very disciplined with my diet since this adventure began and I’m determined to shed weight and build fitness while I’m here.

There’s little sunlight at the end of my workdays, so I’m counting on the weekends for long rides outside.  Right now it looks like this Saturday could be a washout.  I had planned to take on both the Arabia Mountain Trail and the Silver Comet Trail this weekend, but I may have to save one of them for next weekend.  So far, Sunday looks great: partly cloudy and 67 degrees.  Between now and then I will continue to avail myself of the weight room and of my indoor trainer.  (I wonder what the housekeepers thought when they saw that thing sitting in the corner of my room.)

During working hours I have been fully engaged by the project that brought me here.  It’s big and complicated and something I need to understand completely.  But back in my room I’ve got cycling on my mind.  Today I did a little online shopping at Performance Bike: disposing of a gift card I received for Christmas, taking advantage of sale prices on the items I wanted, and sealing the deal with free shipping.  And today I learned that it’s time to order my Team Pedal Moraine kit for the 2012 season.

I wanted this business trip to function as a training camp for me.  So far, so good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Escape From Wisconsin

An extraordinary Wednesday in West Bend would have been just another January day in Atlanta.
I rode 20 miles on Tuesday and another 20 on Wednesday, taking advantage of weather too beautiful to ignore.  This has been the nicest January I have ever spent in Wisconsin, but we haven’t even reached the midpoint yet.  If the weather forecast is correct, then the situation is about to change dramatically.  As I type, the first tentative snowflakes are falling.  For me, this is not a change for the better.  I didn’t want snow in any event, but I especially hoped to avoid it this week.  On Saturday morning I will begin my two-day drive to Atlanta.  I need dry, safe roads.

I will stay overnight in Louisville KY on Saturday.  Louisville is hosting this year’s UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships, today through Sunday.  I could check out some of the late races on Saturday or the early ones on Sunday before I continue my drive, but I probably won’t.  There are some familiar names on the start list—even a few from Wisconsin—but my experience as a spectator is more about the people I’m with than the people I’m watching.  And it should be a nice 50-degree afternoon in Atlanta.  I might get there in time to ride for an hour or two before sunset.

During my three weeks in Atlanta I’m sure I will have a mix of good days and bad.  But whatever I get, it’s got to be better than what appears to be heading into southeastern Wisconsin.  My workout plan for today and tomorrow?  Shovel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 NBC Sports Cycling Schedule

The TV network that began as OLN and became Versus is now NBC Sports.  I wasn’t certain what that would mean for cycling coverage.  Versus spoiled us for years with live coverage of the Tour de France and other major races.  In some cases the network resorted to next-day or even next-weekend coverage, but the last 1-2 hours of big races like the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix were always live.  With yesterday’s release of the 2012 NBC Sports cycling schedule, you can rest assured that there will continue to be a lot of good coverage, but many events that used to air live now will be delayed.  We will have to avoid our online cycling news outlets if we don’t want to learn the winners before the broadcasts.

Here’s the schedule with times converted to Central.  Back in the Versus days, cycling events often got moved around to accommodate other broadcasts.  Take this as a "best guess" and watch out for last-minute changes.

Tour Down Under Classic
January 15 at 2 p.m.

Tour Down Under
January 17-22 at 4:30 p.m.

Tour of Qatar
February 20 at 3:30 p.m.

Tour of Oman
February 26 at 2 p.m.

March 4 at 2 p.m.
March 5-9 at 3:30 p.m.
March 10 at 2 p.m.
March 11 at 10 p.m.

Critérium International
March 25 at 10 p.m.

Ronde van Vlaanderen
April 2 at 10:30 p.m.

April 8 at 6 p.m.

Flèche Wallonne
April 21 at 11:30 p.m.

April 22 at 11:30 p.m.

Tour de Romandie
April 24-27 at 4 p.m.
April 28 at 9 p.m.
April 29 at 9 p.m.

Amgen Tour of California
May 13 at 10 p.m.
May 14-18 at 4 p.m.
May 19 at 6 p.m.
May 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Critérium du Dauphiné
June 3 at 8 p.m.
June 4-7 at 3 p.m.
June 8 at 2 p.m.
June 9 at 12 a.m.
June 10 at 6 p.m.

Tour de Suisse
June 9 at 1 a.m.
June 10 at 8 p.m.
June 11-16 at 4 p.m.
June 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Tour de France
June 30-July 22, times TBD

USA Pro Cycling Challenge
August 20-25 at 3 p.m.
August 26 at 1 p.m.

October 7 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

US Cyclocross National Championships

I had a great time today in Verona at the US Cyclocross National Championships.  The racing was awesome at it was fun to see so many friends in the crowd.  Team Pedal Moraine was well-represented, with no fewer than 7 members in attendance.  Jeremy Powers won the men’s race:

Katie Compton won the women's race for the 8th consecutive year:

Racine’s Kaitlin Antonneau, who won the women’s collegiate championship on Saturday, couldn’t challenge Compton but easily outdistanced the other women for 2nd place:

Zach McDonald, who won the U23 race on Saturday, made a strong bid in the men’s elite race before finishing in 4th place.  Sheboygan’s Brian Matter was Wisconsin’s highest-placed male at 13th:

As you would expect, at the elite level of the sport there are plenty of cool bikes and wheels on display.  But sometimes cheap, low-tech solutions work too.  Arley Kemmerer, 10th among the elite women, used wine bottle corks to plug the ends of her handlebar:

Great stuff!  And we get to do it all again next year.  But who wants to bet that it won’t be 40 degrees and snow-free two years in a row?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Personal Records Of 2012

This isn’t much to brag about, but today I rode 15 miles in the 1 hour of daylight that remained after work.  It was the first time I have ever ridden outside in January.  My old record for earliest ride of the year was Feb. 5, 2005.  There’s still snow and ice out there and unpaved trails are too soft to ride on without leaving deep ruts, so today I split my time on side streets, park paths and paved sections of the Eisenbahn State Trail.

You know how I love statistics.  Because I had never ridden outside in January before, today’s ride added to my best ideal year.  That’s the mileage I would cover if all of my monthly records fell within the same calendar year.  Looks like this:

0015     January     2012
0055     February    2011
0350     March       2010
0650     April       2010
0750     May         2009
0772     June        2007
1020     July        2011
0756     August      2011
0800     September   2009
0532     October     2010 & 2011
0257     November    2009
0045     December    2011

And that adds up to 6,002 miles, which is pretty good.  Tomorrow—another sunny day above 40 degrees—should provide an opportunity for me to extend that mark.  But my biggest gains this month should come in Georgia: the start date for my special work project has been confirmed for Jan. 16.  With a few long weekend rides during my 3-week assignment, I might be setting a January record that will rival my November and March numbers.

So, I’m in for the US Cyclocross Championships this Sunday (as a fan, anyway), in for Washington County Winter Bike Day, and in for the annual meeting of the Washington County Bicycle Club.  But I’m out for the Team Pedal Moraine party, as I will be driving down to Atlanta that weekend.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Not Knowing

Last week I learned that my business trip to Georgia has been postponed.  I had expected to begin a three-week project there on Jan. 9.  I have been looking at the trip as a unique opportunity to create a training camp for myself, as I can take my bike and trainer, ride outdoors on the weekends, use the company’s fitness center, and control every aspect of my diet.  The project is still on, but the start date is now anyone’s guess.  Hopefully I will get a firm start date during this week’s teleconference.

Because the business trip is delayed, I have an opportunity to attend the cyclocross national championships in Verona next Sunday.  Right now the weather forecast is favorable.  If it turns too cold or wet, then I’ll watch the live webcast.  And I’ll use the next 7-10 days to buy my new USA Cycling license, my state trails pass and my state parks vehicle sticker.  It remains to be seen whether I will attend the Team Pedal Moraine party/meeting on Jan. 14.  I would love to spend time with teammates and make plans for the 2012 season, but I might be heading for Georgia that weekend.

Moving the project’s start date to Jan. 16 would be OK, I guess, but moving it just one more week into the future would jeopardize my participation at Washington County Winter Bike Day—an event I am supposed to host—and at the annual planning meeting for the Washington County Bicycle Club, both scheduled for Feb. 11.  I will make every effort to get back to West Bend in time for those events.

Meanwhile the 2012 racing calendars still are not available from the WCA, Wisport, WEMS, ABR, ToAD or Superweek.  Having that information would allow me to create my personal race calendar, and that would be very good motivation as I get serious about my winter training.  Most of those races fall on the same weekends every year, so I can make some assumptions.  But it’s the not knowing that sucks.