Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: A Statistical Review

I rode a lot, surpassed my mileage goal, had a great Race The Lake, bought a new cyclocross bike, and didn’t get injured. There: that’s my 2018 cycling season in a nutshell. It was a good year in the saddle, but one that produced only a few memorable moments. The mileage breakdown by month tells much of the story:

150 Jan
125 Feb
275 Mar
271 Apr
757 May  (PR)
650 June
852 July
827 Aug  (PR)
613 Sep
505 Oct
157 Nov
176 Dec  (PR)

Those are solid totals for the winter months, then a very bad April, personal records in May and August, a disastrous November, and another PR in December. As usual, it was all about the weather. We had a long, cold spring, then a properly warm summer, then an early start to this winter. The speed with which the weather changed was remarkable. Just look at what happened in October:

And that was it; we never recovered. It was wet, too, so the cyclocross season became a cold, muddy mess that held no charms for me. I did only 5 cyclocross races this year: 3 in September, 1 in October, and 1 in November. Combined with Race The Lake, that’s a total of 6 races this year, down from 21 in 2017. My 2019 season must be better! I’m going to return to mountain bike racing after taking this season off. That will stoke the competitive fire early in the year.

In my 2017 statistical review I said that I wanted to return to my roots as a cyclist by taking a series of long rec trail rides. Those never materialized in 2018. I still made frequent use of the Eisenbahn State Trail and paid one visit to the Wild Goose, but I didn’t explore anything I hadn’t seen before and I didn’t return to a couple of long-neglected favorites as I had planned. Giving more emphasis to mountain biking in 2019, I don’t think I’ll be making up for these missed opportunities.

With 5,358 miles this season I had the third best total in my 15-year history as a cyclist. My 183 days of riding are sixth most, all-time. I expect both numbers to drop in 2019. More mountain biking will mean fewer miles overall, but that’s OK. My 2019 will be less about the statistics and more about the experiences and the people: friends, teammates, and rivals.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

It’s A Jersey Thing

Here’s the situation: for 2019, Team Pedal Moraine is breaking out a new look. We’re keeping what we liked about the old jersey, introduced in 2017, and we’re fixing what we didn’t like. It’s going to be hard to miss us in this kit, and hard to mistake us for some other team. What do you think? I can’t wait to get mine!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cross Training (Not ’Cross Training)

Watercolor by A. Kingston Rudd, 1899

I had a busy morning today … the good kind of busy, not the “too much to do / no time to do it” kind. Things kicked off at 6:30 with the NBC Sports Gold webcast of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup from Namur, Belgium. Such a cool setting! Maybe that’s what we need to bring a top-level cyclocross race to Washington County: a citadel. Holy Hill is the closest thing we have. As far as I know, it doesn’t have any artillery platforms, but that’s fixable.

Namur is a gateway city for visitors to the Ardennes, a hilly and heavily forested area not unlike our Kettle Moraine region. I was reminded constantly of the similarities later this morning as I hiked the Ice Age Trail from Ridge Run Park to the Paradise Drive trailhead and back. That was more than 7 miles in 2 hours, a good pace on such terrain. If not for the wind chill, I might have been tempted to do a bike ride today. As it was, today provided an opportunity for my first hike since November 29, 2017.

I’m shocked to realize how much time passed between hikes, given how much I enjoy hiking. But in recent years I have been more willing to ride on these in-between days. There are a few in-between days in the forecast for the final week of 2018, and I wouldn’t mind tacking on some more cycling miles to this year’s total. My next hike may have to wait, but probably not for 13 months! By next weekend we should be consistently below freezing but not yet snow-covered. That’s the right combination to make me lace up the boots again.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

For December, That Ain't Bad

That was my week: 5 rides in 7 days, a total of 112 miles and almost 7.5 hours in the saddle. There hasn't been anything like it since October 22-28. November was dreadful and December didn't start well—I sat out all of last week with some lower back pain—so this week felt especially good. It’s not really training; it’s just getting outside and slowing down the rate at which I’m putting on my off-season body fat. But right now that’s good enough.

Friday, December 14, 2018

My New Bronze Medal

With a 23-mile ride around West Bend this afternoon I did just enough to make 2018 my third-best year ever for mileage. Here’s the new Top 5:

1. 6,236 miles in 2015
2. 5,620 miles in 2016
3. 5,237 miles in 2018
4. 5,236 miles in 2014
5. 5,113 miles in 2011

This season won’t rise any higher in the standings. Only 17 days remain, and you can bet most of them won’t be warm enough to draw me outside. Yesterday and today represent my first back-to-back rides since October 24-25. I have ridden only 55 miles so far this month, so I’m not going to find another 384 to surpass my total from 2016.

But I’m not stopping at 5,237. We might hit 40° tomorrow, a temperature we haven’t seen since November 24. We might get to 40° again on Sunday. The whole weekend should be sunny and dry. Even next Tuesday and Wednesday look OK … then winter officially arrives on Friday and the forecast shows a commensurate drop in temperature. I don’t ride in sub-freezing temperatures, so that might be start of a little break for me.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Switching GEARS: Life After IMBA

These are tough times for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the advocacy group that began in 1988 and rose to prominence by providing a unified voice for access to public land. IMBA started in California when a handful of local mountain biking clubs decided they would be stronger together than they were individually. They needed critical mass to influence lawmakers in Sacramento. IMBA gave them that. In the 30 years since, IMBA has extended its reach across the country and is counted among the special interest groups affecting federal policy in Washington DC.

But recent setbacks and controversies have taken some of the air out of IMBA’s tires, and a new membership model has led many IMBA chapters to abandon the organization … or, at least, to question whether they could be doing things better themselves.

Right here in Washington County, the Glacial Edge Area Riding Society is one of the chapters that has decided on a different path. Rich Ramsey, a founding member of GEARS, has seen the good times and the bad.

“The IMBA chapter was as good as it gets for local clubs,” Ramsey said. “For a one-time setup fee of $500 you got 501(c)(3) status, revenue sharing—a 60/40 split, 40% returned to the chapter—and a membership tracking/communications system … also a regional representative who made connections to IMBA headquarters a breeze.”

That business arrangement allowed GEARS and other clubs like it to focus on trail building, trail maintenance, and riding their bikes. It was a good deal for a while. But this year IMBA discontinued its revenue sharing. Local clubs still may benefit from nonprofit 501(c)(3) status, but otherwise their contributions to IMBA are paying for little more than access to a suite of fee-based services. It’s like paying admission to a shopping mall.

“As with many other chapters, GEARS United decided return on investment was not worth it and we would try to find our own way,” Ramsey said.

The “GEARS United” to which he refers is a recent combination of the original Glacial Edge Area Riding Society with the upstart Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers and Sheboygan County’s venerable FatKats. GEARS United was in the process of reorganizing to prepare for life after IMBA when another disgruntled IMBA chapter came calling.

“Metro Mountain Bikers, reorganized as a standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit under new leadership, has a plan to unite the mountain biking community of southeastern Wisconsin under one flag,” Ramsey said. “They are offering chapter-style organization that will include 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and insurance coverage for the price of individual membership. The Glacial Edge Area Riding Society, Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers, and FatKats would become chapters of Metro Mountain Bikers. We would operate as separate entities but under their umbrella. This was the structure of the former Wisconsin Off Road Bicycling Association: WORBA was the 501(c)(3) with insurance coverage for the price of membership. And, by the way, Metro offers a membership service. We are in the process of working out details of any type of ‘official’ chapter agreement.”

Representing Milwaukee County and Waukesha County, Metro is more than 300 members strong.

“From my point of view, the trail systems will all benefit from the larger pool of resources that this unification will create,” Ramsey said.

Eric Hackbarth of the Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers agrees.

“IMBA’s new membership model … not a good fit anymore,” Hackbarth said. “With the Metro relationship, everything stays local. They know the area. We have access to years of experience in trail building, as well as dealing with local officials that we’ll be able to tap into for advice. And the integration of the membership tracking into the Metro website will be a nice feature. Again: all local. It should serve us well as it gets built out to take on the GEARS members.”

What effect will reorganization have on trail building and trail maintenance? That might be hard to quantify, but reorganization at least should do no harm. Lower administration costs should mean more dollars for GEARS United to spend on tools and other necessities. During the last few seasons there have been numerous refinements at Pleasant Valley and at Glacial Blue Hills, but nothing revolutionary. In a future blog post I will examine some really ambitious plans for Glacial Blue Hills, plans that already enjoy the support of West Bend’s parks department. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Paul Sherwen

The cycling world lost one of its most recognizable voices yesterday. Paul Sherwen was just 62. As a rider he competed in the Tour de France on 7 occasions, but we knew him best as a television commentator for 33 editions of the Tour. Always insightful and always the gentleman, Sherwen teamed with Phil Liggett to define televised cycling coverage for a generation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Simplify, Man!

Our crazy-cold November is almost over. I won’t miss it, but December doesn’t promise any improvement. At this time of year, every ride could be the last ride for weeks—or even months. I have ridden only 6 times this month: 137 miles in a little less than 9 hours. I haven’t ridden on consecutive days since October 24-25. But I surpassed my mileage goal for the year and, unless I get injured or I lose a bike, I’m going to remember 2018 as a successful season. I beat last year’s mileage, riding longer this year but a little less frequently. The higher per-ride average is a function of more days on the road and no days on singletrack.

That’s right: no days on singletrack. I have ridden my mountain bike only 5 times, and not since February 13. This year my 29er has been nothing more than a winter bike. Its disc brakes and wide, low-pressure tires make it a good choice for rides around town when snow and ice are present. There might be a little more of that before the end of this year.

But that’s not what I bought a mountain bike to do. I bought a mountain bike so that I could be a mountain bike racer. This season is my first without any mountain bike races since 2010. That wasn’t by design; my early plans for the 2018 season included a mix of WORS and WEMS races. When WEMS revised its schedule in March, events that had looked so attractive suddenly disappeared from my calendar. A cold, wet spring then destroyed my remaining enthusiasm for the WORS season. It was just easier for me to stay on the road and look forward to cyclocross.

I’m already at peace with the idea of fewer miles next season. I want to reach 70,000 career miles by the end of 2019, and I will need only about 3,000 miles to get there. Reducing the pressure I put on myself to squeeze every mile from the year, I should be willing to spend more time on singletrack. I don’t know whether that means I will return to mountain bike racing. The WORS schedule doesn’t thrill me, so my plans may hinge on the WEMS schedule that hasn’t been released yet. Whatever happens, it’s still a good idea for me to get back in the woods. If riding singletrack isn’t preparation for mountain bike racing, then at least it’s good training for cyclocross, where my handling skills are holding me back a bit.

I am thinking about replacing my 2011 Trek X-Caliber next season, but I probably will wait until 2020. A reliable source tells me that Trek plans a major revamp of its mountain bike line in 2020, more bang for the buck if I can delay my purchase. If I’m just training and not racing in 2019—even if I am racing, but only a little—then getting another year out of the X-Cal is a no-brainer. Again, a lot hinges on the WEMS schedule.

I am re-thinking the future of my 2011 Diamondback Steilacoom, a bike made more-or-less superfluous by my purchase this year of a 2017 Trek Boone 7. The Boone is my cyclocross bike now, but that’s not asking a lot of it. I have spare wheels/tires/cassettes that can turn the Boone into a rail-trail/gravel bike or a backup road bike in a matter of minutes, so it’s hard to make a good case for keeping the Diamondback.

I have a bunch of spare parts to unload too. “Someday I might need this” is an argument whose truth is no longer apparent to me. I want just enough stuff to keep me rolling if one of the bikes goes down for maintenance. Clothing? Same deal. I recently got rid of some old jerseys that I stopped wearing long ago. I’m no hoarder, but stuff just accumulates, you know? It’s time for a leaner approach to my equipment and a more honest assessment of what I really need.

So, that’s an early glimpse of my 2019 season: tear down first, then rebuild.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

First Look At The County Plan

As you may know, in my role as the representative from Bike Friendly West Bend, I am one of the voting members of the committee assembled by Washington County to aid Toole Design Group with the development of a master bike and pedestrian plan to be adopted in 2019. A lot of work has gone into the plan already, but not a lot of public input has been received. Here’s another opportunity for you. Now that there are lines on a map, now that this is not just an abstract idea, go to and give your feedback. It’s not too late to influence the process. I don’t want to hear, at some future point, “what THEY should have done … ”

Monday, November 12, 2018

How To Watch Cyclocross (2018)

Is it just me, or can you see the boredom in van der Poel's eyes?

I’ll say it:

The dominance of Mathieu van der Poel is destroying cyclocross at the elite level. If you are not a fan of the Dutch rider, then you are probably wasting your time as a spectator. Right now he’s so far ahead of everyone else that he simply decides when and where he’s going to take the lead. In yesterday’s Superprestige race at Gavere, van der Poel’s winning move came on a descent that only he could ride at full speed. And once he gets to the front, the fight goes out of the rest of the field.

For the elite women, meanwhile, there’s a different winner almost every weekend. The races have been unpredictable and dramatic.

If you want to know how to watch cyclocross this season, then here’s a quick guide based on my experiences:

1. Wake up early to account for the time difference between here and Europe.
2. Find the streaming coverage on the Internet.
3. Watch the entire women’s race. It will be exciting from start to finish.
4. Watch the staging for the men’s race.

  • If van der Poel is not racing, then continue to Step 5.
  • If van der Poel is racing, then skip to Step 6.

5. Watch the entire men’s race. It will be exciting from start to finish.
6. Watch the men’s race until van der Poel takes the lead.
7. The race is effectively over. Stop watching and put 50-59 minutes back into your day.

On one level you have to recognize and appreciate dominance in athletic competition. The difference between van der Poel and his rivals is remarkable. But on another level you have to want competition. What we have right now is tiresome.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frickin’ Freezing

As I write this, the wind chill is 15° … January cold in early November. Wind speed will increase overnight and the wind chill will fall into single digits. That sucks, but it’s not really surprising. Nor is the inch or two of snow we got this morning. Would you believe that just one month ago—October 9—Washington County had its last 80° day of the year? Then things went to hell: the following day was both the last 70° day and the last 60° day. We were still above 50° last Wednesday, October 31, but time appears to be up. There’s nothing in the forecast for me: all 20s and 30s.

Looks like the bike ride I did on Monday will be my only bike ride this week. I don’t think it will prove to be the last one of 2018, but who knows?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2018 Estabrook Park CX

It’s pretty obvious by now that I’m not contending for a top spot in the Cat 3 Masters 35+ division of the Wisconsin Cycling Association’s cyclocross series. I’m not even challenging for a spot in the top half of the field. But today’s race at Estabrook Park provided many reminders of why I’m still pinning on a number.

I was 16th out of 18 racers today, far behind winner David Studner (Trek Midwest Team). But as was true last Saturday in Oshkosh, I raced well and simply lost to faster guys. Younger too: once again I was the oldest man in the race. I had good energy, the right tire pressure, and a solid tactical approach.

I started from a disadvantageous position on the third row of the grid—that’s the position I earned with my previous race results—but I got into my pedals right away and hung with the group in the early moments. If this year’s course had been more like previous courses at Estabrook, I might have been OK. Unfortunately for me, this year’s course did a lot more twisting and turning. I’m not as suited to that style of racing as I am to hammer-down, straight-line power displays. Still, I handled the bike well enough to keep it upright and moving forward.

At the end of Lap 1, I was working with Don Iwen (Colectivo Coffee) to get rid of Jeff Wren (Team Extreme) and work back to Mac Schroeder (unattached) and Nathan Phelps (Gryphon Velo Racing), who were just a few seconds ahead. At the end of Lap 2, Wren was falling off the pace but Iwen and I were losing a little more ground to Schroeder and Phelps. I resolved to drop Iwen, convinced that I had a better chance with a solo pursuit. My plan almost went awry on Lap 3 when I briefly tangled with the course tape next to one of the barriers, but I maintained and then extended my lead on Iwen and continued in pursuit of Phelps, who by that time was unable to match Schroeder. I could tell I was coming back to Phelps, but not quickly enough. I probably needed 6 laps, but the race was only 4. Still, good times! I always had someone to chase and someone to drop.

I got a complimentary post-race beer and bratwurst, basked in the sun for a bit, and enjoyed the company of friends before calling it a day. It’s a good group of people at a cyclocross race. Special thanks to Travis Goodlund (Brazen Dropouts) for returning a Team Pedal Moraine jacket I foolishly left behind last weekend. I wore it during my warmup, then discarded it on the starting grid and forgot to retrieve it after the race. Those jackets aren’t cheap. It’s nice to have it back!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2018 Sunnyview Cross

Diablo stepped up to take over an already great race from Team Wheel & Sprocket. Nice job today!

Racing for the first time in nearly a month, today I gave a performance at Sunnyview Cross in Oshkosh that was far stronger than it will look in the published results. I was 13th of 15 in the Cat 3 Masters 35+ race. I was also the oldest rider, the realization of which didn’t please me in the slightest. Oh, well.

I got a respectable start from the second row … my best start of the season, in fact. And throughout the race I felt fast and powerful on the straightaways. By the beginning of Lap 2 I was locked in a good fight with Mac Schroeder (unattached), Mike Roth (Team Wheel & Sprocket), and Nathan Phelps (Gryphon Velo Racing). They were a little faster in the twisty, technical stuff; I was a little faster out in the open. I had good energy and I didn’t feel like I was losing anything as the race went on, despite the extra effort I was making to close one gap after another. Schroeder eventually got away but I stayed close to Roth and Phelps. John Svanda (Team Wheel & Sprocket) passed the three of us on the final lap, coming back strong after a front tire puncture early in the race. Svanda’s charge was just enough of a disruption for me that I allowed too large of a gap to Roth and Phelps. I spent the last 2 minutes knowing that I wouldn’t catch them and that nobody would catch me. It was an anticlimax to a race that otherwise was very entertaining and competitive.

Jason Kozicki (Pete’s Garage Racing) took the win, followed by Adam Raychel (Team Wisconsin / Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital) and David Cestelli (unattached).

When you feel strong and have fun, you want to keep feeling strong and having fun. Hopefully the weather forecast will improve for next Saturday’s race at Estabrook Park. During the past month I skipped a couple of races that I would have liked to do if the conditions had been better. I’m going to hit this year’s mileage goal sometime in the next few days, and Daylight Saving Time runs out next weekend, but I would be pleased to do a few more races before I bring down the curtain on the 2018 season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Last Breath Of Summer

Today turned into the warmest October 9th ever in West Bend: 81°, beating the old record of 79°, set in 1963. The good times won’t last—on Thursday we’ll drop into the 40s and it looks like we’ll stay there for a while. Riding today was imperative. I hopped aboard my trusty Diamondback Steilacoom and did one of my favorite workouts: my Eisenbahn State Trail time trial, 31 miles from West Bend to Campbellsport and back.

This was my 9th such ride in 2018:


10/09 53:29 / 17.5 53:23 / 17.5
09/17 55:00 / 17.1 50:07 / 18.7
08/23 53:31 / 17.5 51:10 / 18.3
08/19 54:39 / 17.1 50:35 / 18.5
07/25 54:08 / 17.2 50:18 / 18.6
07/17 54:44 / 17.0 49:40 / 18.8
06/12 52:46 / 17.7 52:36 / 17.7
05/08 55:53 / 16.7 56:32 / 16.5
04/24 61:30 / 15.2 57:30 / 16.2

Achieving a negative split is always the goal. I made it today … by all of 6 seconds! There’s a little bit of elevation gain on the way to Campbellsport, so the return trip is “downhill.” But today the return trip was almost straight into the wind. That slowed me down for sure. Compare today’s return trip to those from July, August, and September.

Statistics aside, this was just a good, solid workout. I needed it, and I need more like it before I wrap up the season. But it’s going to be a struggle to pull on the thermal gear again in a couple of days.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

Just Get Me To 5,000

With 9 months down and 3 to go, I’m 480 miles away from my 5,000-mile goal. I think I’ll make it. I rode 796 miles in the last 3 months of 2017. Barring an injury or weather conditions that are far below Wisconsin’s already dismal standards, I should be OK.

September wasn’t a bad month overall. I covered 613 miles, my highest total since 2015. But September ended badly. From the 18th through the 30th, I rode only 7 times for a total of 198 miles. Of the 6 “off” days, 5 were full-stop; yesterday I got on the trainer in the home gym for the first time in forever. Today’s all-day rain makes me 0-for-1 in October and a woeful 7-for-14 over the last 2 weeks. I haven’t ridden on more than 2 consecutive days since September 13-17. A wet summer has turned into a wet autumn and I’m losing my motivation. When the days were long and warm I could wait out a rain shower and still do a good ride. Now it’s getting hard to find windows of opportunity. I’m still going to ride, but I don’t know how much I’m going to train.

So, realistically, all I want from the remainder of my 2018 cycling season is to hit that 5,000-mile goal. If I can squeeze in a few more cyclocross races, then I’ll be a little happier. But right now my expectations are low.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

2018 LAPT Lion Cross

Here’s the Cat 3 Masters 35+ podium. No, I’m not on it!
It’s now a theme: 3 cyclocross races, 3 bad starts. And I’m left wondering where I would be if I could sort out those first 30 seconds. I rode really well today, but I could manage only a 15th Place finish in the Cat 3 Masters 35+ race at LAPT Lion Cross. The official results show 18 riders. I know that behind me there was at least 1 more guy whose name doesn’t appear, but that’s splitting hairs. I need to worry more about who’s ahead of me. For the most part, though, they’re simply faster.

Held at Waterford Town Park in western Racine County, Lion Cross was a new event on this year’s schedule. The organizers staked out a fast, flowy, fun course on a field with no natural features to exploit, and they made excellent use of a manmade sledding hill that seemed to grow taller with each lap. I really enjoyed my race, largely because I could stay on the gas for almost the whole course. I didn’t hear a single brake squeal from anybody. And I had people to chase and to evade for the entire race; I wasn’t on another lonely solo ride after Lap 1.

Scott Hoyer (Great Dane Velo Club) was today’s winner, followed by David Studner (Trek Midwest Team) and John Orlikowski (unattached). With that trio well out of reach, my race came down to a spirited duel with Mike Roth (Team Wheel & Sprocket). I closed a big gap and overtook him on the penultimate lap, but I couldn’t drop him. In the closing moments of the final lap, he outran me on the sand volleyball court and there just wasn’t enough racecourse left for me to retake the position.

So, now I’m on weather watch. I want to saddle up again next Saturday at PumpkinCross in Grafton, but the forecast shows almost nothing but rain. I might be training in the home gym a few times in the week to come.

Congratulations, Little Badger!

Racine native Kaitie Keough conquered a star-studded field today to win Jingle Cross, the Telenet UCI World Cup cyclocross race in Iowa. And it didn’t come down to a sprint; Keough finished a comfortable 31 seconds ahead of her closest chaser. At 26, Keough is now a veteran racer at the top level of the sport, but today’s victory was her first in a World Cup event.

Jingle Cross attracted some of Wisconsin’s amateur racers too. Nevertheless, turnout was good for today’s WCA event. In prior seasons the WCA was reluctant to schedule an event on the same weekend as Jingle Cross. Today I was grateful for an opportunity to race close to home.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

BMX In Fond du Lac

That’s a great value at $129! If your kids are looking for something to do when the NICA mountain biking season ends, then make the short drive to Fond du Lac. And, by the way, BMX is an Olympic sport. Champions have to come from somewhere, so why not from here?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

More Saving, More Doing, More ... Cowbell?

The Home Depot probably isn't the first place you would look for a new cyclocross bike, and it probably shouldn't be the last. The price is right, though, let's give 'em that.

Support your local bike shop, folks!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 Telenet UCI World Cup Waterloo

What a gorgeous day for the start of the 2018-2019 Telenet UCI World Cup cyclocross season! Trek’s backyard course in Waterloo was the site and I was there ... along with something like 10,000 other fans. I had intended to do a photo essay, but my camera failed and I got only a handful of usable shots.

It’s hard to believe that someone actually could ride these “stairs,” but a few of the riders did:

Here’s Toon Aerts, already getting a gap on Wout Van Aert and on his way to the victory in the elite men’s race:

World champion Sanne Cant and American champion Katie Compton didn’t fare very well in the elite women’s race, but they were relaxed on the starting grid:

Cant was wearing an ice vest to stay cool before the start. Other riders took shelter beneath umbrellas, but the sun wasn’t that hot. (Remember last year?) Marianne Vos took the win today, fighting off a determined Ellen Noble.

Just like last year, the race brought out the Who’s Who of Wisconsin bike racers. I had a great time shaking hands and catching up with friends. Attending the race did keep me off the bike today, though, so I’ll challenge myself tomorrow in atonement. I plan to return to racing on Saturday in Waterford, but I need a good week of training and good weather on raceday.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 Humboldt Park CX

Something’s missing. Today I did my second cyclocross race of 2018 and I’m now 2-for-2 in getting blown away in the first minute. The Humboldt Park race in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood is one of my favorite races each season, so I was motivated today but I couldn’t deliver a good result. I placed 13th out of 16 in the Cat 3 Masters 35+ division. Lance Johnson (Ben’s Cycle / Milwaukee Bicycle Co.) took the win, followed by Jeffrey Bopp (Revolution Cycles), who won last Sunday in Manitowoc.

I didn’t ride badly. By the start of Lap 2 I had settled into a strong, sustainable pace. But by then the damage was done. I warmed up for almost an hour prior to the race, so I don’t know why I started so poorly. Hopefully I can work on my start next Tuesday at the season finale of our Royal Oaks practice series. This week’s practice went well for me, but the confidence I took out of it didn’t count for much today.

I won’t be going to Wausau tomorrow for Cross Of The North. I made that decision back on Tuesday and it looks like a really good one in the aftermath of today’s drubbing. So, my next race will be LAPT Lion Cross in Waterford on September 29. That’s two weeks from today … enough time, I hope, to figure out my start. Maybe I can find some inspiration next Sunday at the UCI World Cup races in Waterloo, where I’ll be watching the top professional riders on a revamped course at Trek’s corporate headquarters.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

2018 Flyover Silver Creek CX

Braun Building Center puts the "Flyover" in Flyover Silver Creek CX.

In my 2018 cyclocross debut this afternoon at Manitowoc’s Silver Creek Park, I had to look for the silver lining around the big black cloud of a 15th Place finish in the 18-man Cat 3 Masters 35+ race.

I got off to a terrible start, instantly squandering my position on the first row of the starting grid. We were 8 riders wide in a space that didn’t really allow for it, and I got squeezed. By the halfway point of Lap 1, my race was effectively over. I overtook one of my rivals on Lap 2, but that was the last time I made a pass. And nobody caught me from behind after that point, so I was almost on a solo ride for the rest of the 6-lap race. I could see the Gryphon Velo Racing duo of Mike Lebeau and Nathan Phelps not too far ahead, but I couldn’t close on them. Curse that bad start!

So, let’s talk about the silver lining. In today’s race I …
  • Didn’t get lapped
  • Finished just high enough to earn 1 point for the series standings
  • Rode up Heckle Hill every lap
  • Enjoyed (believe it or not) getting splashed by Lake Michigan waves as I ran along the beach
  • Enjoyed even more the performance of my new bike, which shares none of the blame for my crappy result

Both in competition and out, today was a great opportunity to see many of my friends, so it was a good day overall. But I need to race better. I wasn’t good today, obviously. Madison’s Jeffrey Bopp (Revolution Cycles) took the victory. He had several podium appearances last season, so I will expect continuing success from him. As for my place in the pecking order … hopefully today wasn’t a sign of things to come.

Yesterday should have been Opening Day of the 2018 WCA cyclocross season, but an overabundance of rain in recent weeks has left many area parks in a delicate state. Milwaukee County shut down the race at Kosciuszko Park, saying the grounds were too wet. That race may be rescheduled on a Sunday in October. There were no concerns about the grounds today in Manitowoc. Conditions were perfect and the race organizers did an outstanding job with the course layout.

If you’re coming to cyclocross practice on Tuesday at Royal Oaks Park, then expect me to go hard. I need to find whatever was missing today. The week ahead looks dry—a nice change—so opportunities for training shouldn’t be limited by bad weather. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s race at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee and I’m hoping to travel to Wausau next Sunday for Cross Of The North … but not if the rain returns.

Today wasn’t the Season Opener that I wanted, but it’s the Season Opener with which I have to live. Maybe disappointment will prove to be motivating.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

How Great Is Our Kate!

Congratulations to Kate Courtney, who won the UCI cross-country mountain bike world championship today in Lenzerheide, Switzerland! Courtney took advantage of a last-lap mistake by Denmark’s Annika Langvad, made the pass and rode away to a convincing victory. It’s the first cross-country world title for an American since Alison Dunlap won in 2001.

Courtney’s victory could be a huge step forward for mountain biking in the United States, which in recent years has lagged behind other countries in international competitions. At only 22 years old, Courtney could be a star for another decade or more. She’s smart, at ease with the media, and just the sort of ambassador the sport needs to attract new fans and new riders … especially girls.

Courtney was the silver medalist in last year’s under-23 world championships. This year she stepped up to the elite level and had an outstanding UCI World Cup season. There was never a doubt that she was a special rider whose stock was rising, but even she must be a little surprised by so much success so soon. It’s a great day for the USA!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Août With A Bang

With a well-paced, 42-mile ride this afternoon, I reached 827 miles for the month of August. That’s a personal record, beating the 826 miles I rode in August 2015. I’m now at 3,907 miles this year, 353 miles ahead of last year’s pace and still on target for my 5,000-mile goal.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 Race The Lake

And I thought I had a good ride last year!

Today I did my first race of 2018: Race The Lake, Wisconsin’s biggest road race. I first did the race back in 2016, and I had a pretty good result despite a rear tire puncture with just a few miles to go. I went back last year for the 10th Anniversary edition—a 100-mile course instead of the normal 88 or thereabouts—and I had an even better result. But today … wow!

After performing so well last year I was willing to move into Wave 3 on this year’s starting grid. Wave 1, a.k.a. the Pro Wave, seemed beyond my ability. Even Wave 2 seemed like a stretch, so my first thoughts were not positive when the race organizers announced that Waves 2 and 3 would start together. But I soon lost any concerns that I didn’t belong. We flew up to High Cliff State Park, the halfway point of the race and home to its only real hill climb. And even the hill seemed easy this year. I was on a storming ride: fit, confident, and sitting atop a perfectly-tuned bike.

I think a lot of people get fooled by Race The Lake. The climb at High Cliff has a reputation that exceeds the reality. Getting up it is good, but don’t think the worst is behind you. The west side of Lake Winnebago is pan-flat, but the east side features a succession of rolling hills. They’re not hard when considered individually, but their cumulative effect is the difference between a good race and a bad one. I met every challenge. On a couple of occasions when others faltered, I rode across gaps to stay with the leaders of the wave. And if I stuck my nose into the wind only briefly, I was always within a shout of the front.

In the final miles I was contemplating a repeat of the move that was so successful last year: descend hard into Taycheedah and then time trial on the flat roads back to Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance. A terrible crash in the Pro Wave left carnage on the road ahead. Law enforcement stopped us, then directed us onto the sidewalk for a brief detour. We resumed quickly but much of the cohesion in the group was gone.

I finished the 88-ish miles in 3:33:32, averaging 25 mph. That’s good for 88th Place out of more than 930 overall and 9th out of 109 men in my age group …

At least, I think it’s good for 88th Place. The race organization has altered the results since I left Fond du Lac late this morning. It’s trying to be fair to the fast riders in the waves that started after mine, some of whom were stopped at the crash scene for more than an hour when law enforcement demanded that the race be neutralized to allow emergency crews to do their work. I was lucky to pass that point just after the crash. I don’t really know who won; I know only that I had great race.

My day got even better when I saw that Laura Van Gilder was the undisputed women’s winner. Like me, she’s 53 years old and a native Pennsylvanian, so it’s easy for me to root for her. We spent a few minutes talking after the race and she couldn’t have been nicer. Not sure if she remembers meeting me at Tour of America’s Dairyland races at East Troy and West Bend in years past, but she does follow me on Twitter, which counts for something!

So, that’s my one road race for 2018. Back to cyclocross …

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Putting On Our Climbing Legs

We had another good cyclocross practice today at Royal Oaks Park in West Bend. This was Week 3 of 7, but I’m calling it the halfway mark because I did a new bike shakedown there on July 31 before the series began. During that July 31 session—my first experience with 1x gearing—I learned how challenged I would be to climb a tough hill with a 40T chainring and an 11-28 cassette. Sure, I could get up the steepest climbs at Royal Oaks, but that’s not the goal. I need to get up the big hills of the WCA series—Manitowoc and Grafton—lap after lap, at race speed. Those are hard enough to climb when conditions are ideal; imagine them with tall, wet grass.

So, my Trek Boone is now outfitted with an 11-36, giving me more climbing gears with no compromise on top-end speed. I didn’t have that solution in place in time for the practice season opener, but it worked well last week on a mostly-flat course and today on the hilliest configuration we have used so far this year. I didn’t even need to install a new chain; this was a simple cassette swap. (And I was able to bring the project in far below the $125 I had expected to pay.) I’m very happy with the performance of the bike now.

Last night’s heavy rains left the wooded trails of Royal Oaks soft and damp, so today’s course took the short way through … which meant using the west side of the sledding hill to make the course long enough. Aside from that concession, the grounds were in great shape. With my new bike set up properly, I felt like I was in great shape too. I didn’t have an answer for Wade Loberger (Team Wheel & Sprocket), winner of our practice race, but I was a strong 2nd Place. Practice is working for me, putting an edge on my fitness at just the right time. It’s a hard transition after months of long-steady-distance training, but it’s going well.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Great Resource For Public Input

There’s an important public input session later today during which Washington County officials will collect comments about bike and pedestrian issues and opportunities. I encourage you to attend. This will be your best chance to influence the process that will result in a master plan by Spring 2019. The County Board already has pledged money for the plan. It’s going to happen!

If you can’t attend the public input session, then here’s a great alternative. The online mapping utility is fun and easy to use. Identify the barriers to safe and convenient bicycling and/or walking, or pick new destinations … it’s up to you! I have been annotating the heck out of the map today and I’m sure I will continue to think of things, as this utility makes it so easy to give input.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Warmup On The Wild Goose

Out and back.

Race The Lake—my first competitive event of 2018—is now two weeks away and while I’m not worried about covering the 88-mile course I am keenly aware that I haven’t done many long rides this year. Today’s 69-mile excursion on the Wild Goose State Trail was just my 4th metric century of 2018. My longest ride was 90 miles, back on June 17. That might remain my longest ride of the year, as I’m going to be all about cyclocross once Race The Lake is behind me. But in the next two weeks I will try to do at least one more metric century. Replicating the duration of Race The Lake is more important than replicating the distance, as group dynamics and raceday adrenaline will count for plenty on August 26.

Like most recreation trails, the Wild Goose is very flat and its unpaved surface is best experienced on something other than a road bike. My Diamondback Steilacoom was the right choice today. I was tempted to use my new Trek Boone—outfitted with backup wheels and tires, of course—but I’m going to try to preserve the Boone as a race-only machine. Jeff Wren (Team Extreme) joined me today, riding the Felt that had been his cyclocross racer prior to this season. We got rained out back on August 5, 2017, when we last attempted to ride the Wild Goose, so this was our first trip on the trail since May 15, 2015.  The Wild Goose is nice, but it’s not appreciably different from the Eisenbahn State Trail here in Washington County. An annual visit is often enough.

This was a very solid 12-hour, 197-mile week. I’ll do another big block next week too, then I’ll taper for Race The Lake. I had abundant energy today—don’t be fooled by the very ordinary average speed in the graphic above—and I seem to be on the right trajectory.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Unofficial Start Of The CX Season

The Tuesday evening cyclocross practice series begins one week from today. And, humble though it is, let me disabuse you of the notion that it just happens without forethought or effort. Today, Jeff Wren (Team Extreme) and I broke out the rakes, clippers, and pruners to ensure a clear path through the woods for next week’s session at Royal Oaks. The park is in fantastic shape. It’s kind of a shame we didn’t have an official practice today.

But we did have an unofficial one! Both Jeff and I have new cyclocross bikes for the 2018 season, so when the groundskeeping was done we went through an equipment shakedown. I got immediate results from lowering my saddle. Jeff might be looking into swapping out his stock handlebar for a wider one. We’ll probably find a few more things to adjust before the WCA season begins on September 8, and that’s fine. That’s one of the best things about cyclocross practice.

My biggest concern coming out of today’s practice is gearing. My easiest combination on the new bike is 40x28, and that might not work for me on the toughest hills of the WCA series. I’m thinking mostly of Manitowoc and Grafton, but even places like Milwaukee’s Humboldt Park and both venues in Waterloo have some short, steep sections. I got up all of the climbs at Royal Oaks today, even the seldom-used singletrack on the east side of the sledding hill, but I surely wouldn’t mind an 11-36 cassette. That would mean a new chain too, so there goes another $125 for the set. Oh, well … it’s only money.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Quiet Saturday

I usually fill mid-summer Saturdays with long bike rides. Not today. After leaving work at 7 a.m., I returned to West Bend to have breakfast and to watch a little of the Tour de France. By 9 a.m. I was at the corner of Hillside and Sleeping Dragon to run one of the rest stops on the Wisconsin Women Century. By 2 p.m. I was home again and by 2:30 I was sleeping soundly. At 6 p.m. I got up and knocked out a quick 20 miles on the road bike. I’ll go longer tomorrow: my 100th bike ride of 2018 will put me over the 3,000-mile mark. Last year I didn’t hit 3,000 miles until August 2, so I’m a little ahead of that schedule and still on pace for a 5,000-mile year.

Friday, July 20, 2018

My 2017 Trek Boone 7

Few things in my world are as exciting as New Bike Day, even when that new bike is “new, old stock.” Trek recently marked down its unsold 2017 Boone 7 cyclocross bikes to $1,800—they were $3,000 originally—and my neighborhood shop, Pedal Moraine, was able to make the deal even sweeter. It was the right time to take the plunge. With the purchase of this bike, I have committed to cyclocross at a deeper level than ever before.

In most ways, the 2017 Boone 7 is the same bike as the $4,000, top-of-the-line, 2018 Boone 7 Disc: same carbon fiber frame, same tires, same shifter, same single-ring crankset, same bottom bracket, same seatpost. If you’re looking for the big difference, the name of this year’s model is a dead giveaway: like most other manufacturers, Trek has gone all-in with disc brakes for cyclocross. My Boone has TRP RevoX cantilever brakes. So, the bikes have slightly different forks and slightly different wheelsets—the new Boone also gets a carbon handlebar and a “better” saddle, though I have always found saddle comfort to be unrelated to price—but without the extra hardware required by disc brakes, my Boone is half a pound lighter than its younger sibling. (It’s something like 5-6 pounds lighter than my 2011 Diamondback Steilacoom, the aluminum bike the Boone will replace at the races!)

My Boone has everything I ever wanted in a cyclocross bike ... except for disc brakes. But when this deal was taking shape, I had to rethink why I wanted disc brakes in the first place. The answer was something like, “Well, that’s where the industry is heading.” And that wasn’t a good enough answer. It certainly wasn’t a $4,000 answer! Like thousands of riders before me, I have always used cantilever brakes for cyclocross. My choice of brakes has never been a limitation. It’s not what keeps me in the bottom half of the Masters Cat 3 field. Sticking with cantilever brakes makes my new cyclocross bike compatible with all of my existing wheelsets, two of which are tubeless-ready like the stock wheels on the Boone. In the last couple of years I have been transitioning out of the Mavic Ksyrium/Aksium line in favor of Shimano Ultegra. My Boone is now outfitted with one of those Ultegra wheelsets. The Bontrager Race Lite wheelset that came with the Boone now will be the primary wheelset for my BMC road bike, allowing me to relegate a well-worn set of Aksiums to backup duty.

There’s something to be said for mechanical simplicity, too. My canti-equipped Boone has fewer moving parts than a disc-equipped cyclocross bike or even my old Diamondback. No more front shifter or front derailleur … 11-speed, but less to maintain, less to break, less to replace. The Diamondback will live on as my gravel and rail trail bike, and as my backup road bike—it has a 46/36 double crankset, giving it more top end speed and more climbing gears than the Boone—and it’s still a capable cyclocross bike if the Boone needs a repair. I still love the Diamondback, but the Boone is on another level and I think the new bike will allow me to get the best out of this season and many more.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

El Contador and Il Cammello

El Contador at the turnaround point in Eden.

This was a 15-hour, 252.5-mile week. Oof! Both of those numbers are personal records. What can I say? The weather was great and I still have a lot of weight to lose before the start of the cyclocross season. Garmin estimates my calorie burn for this week at 16,525, but I’m still dangerously close to 200 pounds. The problem, of course, is that I’m very relaxed about my diet. I’m also massively efficient at doing rides like the one I did today.

Today I went up the Eisenbahn State Trail to Eden and back in the company of, for the first time ever … drum roll, please: Jim Saueressig of Gryphon Velo Racing. Welcome to crunching gravel, Jim! You are a pure roadie no more, and you’ll be better for it.

My ride turned out to be a 50-mile, 3-hour affair, and that’s a solid effort. Still, it was a sweet spot ride. I can crank those out day after day, and I do, and that’s good for overall fitness but not especially effective training for cyclocross. Some big changes are coming. Next week I’ll go shorter but harder.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Chris Froome Fiasco

I haven’t been writing about professional road racing very much lately because I’m disgusted with it. I still love the one-day races, but doping is ruining the Grand Tours. If you follow that side of the sport, then you probably know the UCI on Monday cleared Chris Froome of any wrongdoing despite a test last September that showed he had an asthma drug in his system at two times the concentration allowed by anti-doping rules.

That’s right folks: last September. Froome and Team SKY management took a chapter from the old Lance Armstrong book: Deny, Delay, Denounce.

Froome’s side of the story goes something like this: He never did anything wrong. If the test showed too much asthma medication in his system, then it can only have happened accidentally, or it can be explained by his unique physiology, or the testing process itself is flawed. And asthma drugs aren’t really performance-enhancing anyway. And it’s none of your goddamn business in the first place because the results of the test should have been confidential, but now that you do know about it you had better be on Froome’s side because any criticism of him or of Team SKY is only jealous hatred.

The jealous hatred argument reached its apex of absurdity on Sunday after the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) attempted to ban Froome from this year’s Tour de France, which will begin on July 7. Froome’s fanboys took to social media to decry the action as an attempt by the French to exclude a non-French rider from the Tour. We were here before during the Armstrong years. The argument was complete crap then and it’s complete crap now. In truth, the ASO’s announcement was a calculated maneuver that forced the UCI’s hand. The ASO got exactly what it wanted: Froome will participate in the Tour because the UCI says it’s OK. The ASO didn’t have to make a controversial decision. Its race will feature the defending champion, and that’s good for business even if most fans are lining up to root against him.

Back in May, with the Froome question still unanswered, the Giro d’Italia also recognized that a race without Froome would be seen as second-rate. But the Giro wasn’t a politically savvy as the Tour: it claimed it had a guarantee from the UCI that Froome’s participation would not be nullified even if he subsequently were found guilty of doping. Shame on the Giro for asking for such a guarantee, and shame on the UCI for undercutting the anti-doping movement, even if it only discussed the possibility and didn’t actually give Froome a free pass.

But nothing undercuts the anti-doping movement so thoroughly as yesterday’s decision. The UCI demonstrated its inability to adjudicate a doping claim against a star rider. It ran out of time and it simply gave up.

Time is a hugely important concept in all of this. For example, the time to argue about whether a drug is performance-enhancing in any concentration, or what that concentration is, or how much natural variance can occur within a population of athletes, is before that drug becomes part of the testing protocol. Once it does, then as an athlete you are bound by that limit and you are in violation of the rules even if you exceed that limit accidentally.

And how about the time an athlete should be allowed to respond to a doping claim? Wasn’t 9 months more than enough? There’s no reason to think the Froome fiasco would be over if not for the ASO’s power play on Sunday. Froome and Team SKY showed themselves to be more than content to let things drag on indefinitely, despite weak protests by Froome that nobody wanted a quick resolution more than he did. What incentive did they have to bring things to a conclusion, given that they were allowed to keep racing and to retain the results of those races?

Well, you did it, Chris. You won. But you’re mistaken if you think that what you did was good for cycling or that you convinced anyone who wasn’t already blindly following you. You exposed the impotence of the UCI and set back the anti-doping cause by at least a decade. We’re one step closer—a big step closer—to tossing out the entire charade. When road racing becomes an anything-goes exhibition with all the athletic credibility of professional wrestling, what will you think of your legacy?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Halftime 2018

You know, it didn’t feel like a great June. I had 11 “off” days, mostly because of rain, and it seemed like I couldn’t find any rhythm in my training. But I still banged out 650 miles, which compares favorably to my historical average. And I finished the first 6 months of 2018 with a total of 2,228 miles. That puts me 95 miles ahead of last year’s pace and keeps me in the running for a 5,000-mile season.

I rode 76 times in the first half of the year, my lowest total since 2014. In some ways, I’m still making up for a lousy April. My per-ride average is nearly 30 miles, though, so no complaints there.

At 196 pounds, I’m 2 pounds heavier than I was on July 1, 2017 … not ideal, but not the end of the world. If I can get below 190 by September 1, then I should be OK for the cyclocross season.

When I set a new PR for mileage in May, I said that June would be a good time to introduce more structure into my training. Largely due to the hit-or-miss weather, that structure never materialized. There’s no choice now: I will beat my ass into shape this month.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 Downer Classic

Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, the Downer Classic criterium on Milwaukee’s east side is the same thing every year and you wouldn’t want it to be anything else. I think Downer is the best fan experience in the Tour of America’s Dairyland and I rarely miss it. I surely wasn’t going to miss it on a sunny, 90° day like today.

But crits are hard to watch. Most of the race takes place out of sight from whatever viewing spot you pick, so going to Downer as a fan is really about the party atmosphere. The last few laps are exciting. The first 40? Not so much.

ToAD will conclude on Sunday in Wauwatosa and it could be an interesting day if southeastern Wisconsin is visited by a succession of thunderstorms. I won’t be there in any event, as I will be trying to have a picnic at Pleasant Valley with my Team Pedal Moraine friends. Wish me luck. This is one of the few weekends this summer with neither a WORS nor a WEMS race. I don’t know what I will do if bad weather forces me to reschedule.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018

2018 Downtown West Bend Concourse

The less I say, the better. But I’m disappointed. I know it’s a Monday, but it’s a sunny, 70° Monday, and West Bend just didn’t show up to support the Tour of America’s Dairyland. I was there for almost 4 hours late morning / early afternoon, then went back for the pro women’s race. If it weren’t for the racers themselves, plus their families and friends, then there would be almost no one in attendance.

See the rider on the yellow bike in the picture above? That’s 14-time national cyclocross champion Katie Compton. That’s the caliber of rider you have an opportunity to see, for free, and you’re not taking that opportunity.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

2018 Giro d’Grafton

The Tour of America’s Dairyland began on Thursday in Kenosha, continued yesterday in East Troy, and arrived today in neighboring Ozaukee County for the Giro d’Grafton. For the fifth consecutive year, I volunteered as a course marshal for the Grafton race. Before racing began at 11 a.m., I took the photo above from my post near Turn 2. The first two races of the day looked like good, clean fun. But if I had any thoughts about trying my luck in a criterium, the day’s third race soon reminded me why I have stayed away. Early in the men’s Cat 4/5 race there was a nasty crash right in front of me, leaving one racer so badly injured that he couldn’t pick himself up. The fallen rider was quickly aided by Grafton fire and rescue personnel. I cleared away the broken bike, sunglasses, and little pieces of debris from unknown sources. Before the racers came around on the next lap, I ran down to the corner to signal for them to stop. The crash site was now blocked by race officials and the medical team. Officials were using their radios to neutralize the race, but many racers didn’t get the message until they got back to Turn 2. All riders then stopped at the crash site and waited as the injured rider was taken away for medical attention. Fortunately, he didn’t appear to have a head injury and he could move his limbs, however painfully.

I’ve never done a USA Cycling-sanctioned road event, so the Cat 4/5 race would have been my race if I had entered. Stuff like that makes you think. And this particular crash happened on an uphill straightaway, not in some tight corner. Racing’s a dangerous game. You never know when it’s going to bite you.

I’m sorry for the guy who got hurt, but I’m glad I could help to keep others safe today. I’ll be back at it on Monday in West Bend.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Birthday / Father’s Day Treat

When I was a kid, I hated the occasional sharing of my birthday with Father’s Day. It was my birthday. It wasn’t meant to be shared, and it especially wasn’t meant to begin with two hours on my best behavior at church in my most uncomfortable clothes and shoes.

Today I did something very different: a 90-mile ride through the counties of Fond du Lac and Green Lake on roads and rec trails I had never seen before and in the company of two gentlemen with whom I have only seldom had the pleasure to ride: Sam Tobias, Director of Fond du Lac County Park & Planning, and Derek Moran (Gryphon Velo Racing), one of my rivals during the cyclocross season. The Mascoutin Valley State Trail, the Northwestern Trail, Dike Road, and the extraordinary White River Road—5.5 miles of uninterrupted gravel goodness through the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area—were just some of the highlights on the route. Derek was aboard the gravel bike that served him well earlier this month at the Dirty Kanza; Sam and I were aboard traditional cyclocross bikes. Today’s route was crunchy by design, not a place for 700x23 tires. We still averaged 17.1 mph in 90° heat … not bad. Full disclosure: my partners would have been faster without me! But any way you slice it, this was solid training for all three of us.

I finished this week with 236 miles in 13.5 hours. That’s easily my busiest week of training so far this year, and you’d have to go back to August 2017 to find anything like it. So, next week probably will be less ambitious as measured both by miles and by time. Right now the weather forecast shows a lot of rain, plus a couple of days whose temperatures could have me reaching for the arm warmers again. I will let the weather dictate my ride plans.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

West Bend’s New Group Ride

There’s a new group ride in town! The ride began yesterday and will take place each Wednesday at 5:15 a.m., leaving from the old train depot in downtown West Bend. The organizer, Scott Schultz, says rides will be approximately 20 miles long with an average speed of 16-18 mph. Here’s what yesterday’s ride looked like:

Visit the ride’s Facebook page to see all the details. Scott says if this ride proves successful, other rides may follow.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Author! Author!

Don’t look now, but Yours Truly, a somewhat reluctant member of the bicycle advocacy community, has co-authored an article in the current edition of the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s quarterly magazine. Willie Karidis of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy asked me to share what I know about the effort to link the Eisenbahn State Trail and the Ozaukee Interurban. I felt a bit too restricted by the word count I needed to hit, but the most important details survived. And I expected the biographical stuff to appear separately rather than as a concluding paragraph, but otherwise the article turned out OK. Check it out.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Answer The Call

If you want to have cycling events in Washington County, then you have to support cycling events in Washington County. I’m signed up for course marshal duties for the Tour of America’s Dairyland race in downtown West Bend on Monday, June 25. Join me. Fewer than half of the volunteer spots have been filled so far. Please sign up and encourage your friends to sign up. You don’t have to know anything about bike racing; there are many different ways to help.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

My Most May Miles

Keep reaching for new heights.

Thanks in no small part to a miraculous run of summer weather in a month that doesn’t usually produce it, today I set a new personal record for miles in May: 757. That breaks the old mark of 750 miles, set in 2009.

My all-time highest monthly total is 1,020 miles, set in July 2011. I’m in no hurry to beat that record. I remember how fried I was at the end of that month.

I don’t feel overtrained today despite 10 straight days in the saddle—331 miles in 19.5 hours—but I will allow myself a little rest this weekend. I might devote tomorrow to yard work and Saturday to home improvement projects. And June? Right now I don’t have any goals. That’s not good, but I’ll think of something. It won’t be all about the mileage, though. My June record is 816 miles, set in 2015. Instead of shooting for 817, maybe I’ll schedule some structured workouts and build a routine that emphasizes short, hard efforts during the week, then longer and more leisurely rides on the weekends. I still have several rec trails to explore, and those would be more fun in the company of friends.