Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Statistical Review

I put up such big numbers in 2015 that I never thought to challenge them this year. I didn’t expect to get close to 215 rides and 6,236 miles, both personal records. In fact, I didn’t even set a mileage goal for 2016. Nevertheless, 2016 proved to be another high-volume season. I rode on 185 occasions—not 186, as shown above … Garmin broke one of my rides into two pieces—and I amassed 5,620 miles. The 185 rides are 3rd most all-time and the 5,620 miles are 2nd only to last year’s total. Here’s the breakdown, month-by-month:

050 January
205 February (PR)
365 March
426 April
654 May
725 June
796 July
717 August
594 September
620 October (PR)
409 November (PR)
059 December

I competed in 10 WCA cyclocross races and 3 mountain bike races (2 WEMS, 1 WORS), exactly the same totals as last season. I also competed in Race The Lake, Wisconsin’s biggest road race. Again this year there were no centuries for me—at 89 miles, including a little warm-up and cool-down, Race The Lake was my longest day in the saddle. My last century was on August 2, 2014.

I have set a mileage goal for 2017, one that is much lower than you might expect: 3,378. That will take me to 60,000 career miles. Of course, I probably will exceed that goal. This was my 8th consecutive season above the 4,000-mile threshold, after all. But in 2017 my primary focus will be mountain bike racing, training for which will mean long hours at much lower speeds than I would experience on the road. The 2017 WEMS and WORS calendars line up nicely for me, and the racing season begins just 18 weeks from today!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cursed Periode

Everything was fine until the ice pellets started to cut into my eyeballs.

In Belgium, this is a busy time of year for pro cyclocross. There was a big race today. There’s another one on Monday, and another one next Thursday, and next Friday, and one on New Year’s Day …

It’s kerstperiode, which translates pretty well as “Christmastime.” Family and community activities abound; cyclocross is only a fraction of the fun. And the weather isn’t bad: it’s going to be in the mid-50s there on Christmas Day.

In West Bend the situation is rather different. Our last 50° day was November 29. That also was our last 40° day, which just goes to show how quickly things can deteriorate here. Winter officially arrived on Wednesday and must have liked what it saw, as Autumn had left behind a foot of snow and a streak of sub-32° days that stretched back more than 2 weeks.

I had not ridden my bike since November 29, but I rode today. We hit 36° this afternoon and the wind wasn’t bad. I took my 29er out for a 90-minute reconnaissance loop of the city. I found exactly what I expected: the Eisenbahn State Trail is open from Rusco Drive to Barton Avenue, and Regner is open for Enchantment In The Park, but most other park paths are snow-covered. Oh, well. It was nice just to get outside. Time will tell whether today’s ride was my last ride of 2016. Fresh snow is falling now, and despite the promise of 40° next Monday, the 10-day temperature trend is down.

I still hate winter, but I’m trying to make the best of it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shoveler’s Blues

It’s a losing proposition. But one you can’t refuse?

Today, finally, is the end of the 2016 cyclocross season in Wisconsin. The USA Cycling Midwest Cyclocross Championships took place in Sun Prairie on a course that literally had to be forced open with snowblowers. Racers competed—or, in some cases, just rode around the course uncontested—in single-digit wind chill. There was supposed to be another race on the same course tomorrow, but the organizers have canceled it in anticipation of wind chill that could reach 30° below zero. The Wisconsin Cycling Association has canceled tonight’s season-end party due to the snow that is expected to continue into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Only 28 racers were preregistered for tomorrow, spread across 8 different groups classified by gender, ability and age. The competition would have been a farce, just as it was in many categories today. How legitimate is a race when you’re the only one in it, or when merely crossing the finish line guarantees a spot on the podium? Those situations occurred in 11 of today’s 20 races. Preregistration for today was fairly robust, but many racers ultimately decided to forfeit their entry fees rather than to brave the elements.

Meanwhile in Antwerp, Belgium, the world’s top professional cyclocross racers enjoyed a dry, 46° Saturday. At this time of year, that’s a normal day there. But in Sun Prairie, the high temperature of an average December 17 is just 30° before you calculate the wind chill. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? I’m torn between respect for the organizers who work very hard to make these races viable, and a desire to see such events fail so that we can return to a schedule whose end date recognizes the harsh reality of Wisconsin weather.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Presenting The 2017 Cheesehead Roubaix

You don’t have to be as badass as Nicki Lock and Jessica Helmlinger to enjoy the ride, but …
The 8th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix will begin at Newburg Fireman’s Park on Sunday, April 30, at 9 a.m.  Inspired by Spring Classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, Cheesehead Roubaix is a 63-mile ride that features almost 10 miles of dirt and gravel. The ride will test your fitness with rough road conditions and about 2,000 feet of climbing.

Cheesehead Roubaix is free of charge, but please consider making a voluntary contribution to the Newburg Fire Department to show your appreciation for the use of its facility. There will be a donations jar at the concessions stand before and after the ride. Last year we collected $1,542 and the department made an additional $472.75 in food & drink sales after the ride. Thanks for your generosity!

There will be a free, mid-ride rest stop courtesy of our friends from BELGIANWERKX. Please let us know you plan to attend so that we can ensure there’s enough food & drink at the rest stop. Join the fun at the Facebook event page, send me email or leave a comment below.

Moroder Photography will be on hand again to preserve your Cheesehead Roubaix memories. Check out these awesome images from last year!

Cheesehead Roubaix is designed for self-sufficient cyclists. The rest stop will be your only support. The ride uses only open public roads and park paths. You are responsible for your own safety and conduct, and you are expressly not exempt from Wisconsin traffic laws. Represent the sport well. Please visit the Cheesehead Roubaix website and print out your own copy of the cuesheet and map. The website also offers a data file for Garmin GPS devices.

See you on April 30!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

ToAD To Return To West Bend In 2017

There’s nothing yet at the website of the Tour of America’s Dairyland, or at its Facebook page, or at its Twitter page, but apparently ToAD will return to West Bend in 2017 after a successful inaugural race this year. The good news comes from the Downtown West Bend Association, which says the West Bend race will be on Monday, June 19. That little bit of information gives us the rest of the dates: June 15-25.

I’m not a criterium racer, but I know some guys who are already training for ToAD 2017!