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.