Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Problem Is You

If you read this blog regularly, then you know I am on the planning committee for Washington County’s proposed bike and pedestrian master plan. Here’s a challenge for you: name anybody else on the committee. No cheating, now. Don’t run off to the county’s website to look up the answer.

This afternoon the committee met for the final time, bringing to an end a process that began back in August 2018. It should have been a celebration of a lot of hard work by Washington County Planning & Parks staff, Toole Design Group, and several committee members. It should have been the day we voted to recommend the plan as it moves on to the next stage in the approval process. In reality, it was a depressing anticlimax. The meeting failed to produce a quorum, so those of us who were in attendance were unable to take any action.

That failure could come back to haunt bicycling in Washington County for generations to come. When the people who were charged with the development of the plan can’t get their act together long enough to recommend it formally, then the County Board and other stakeholders might reasonably conclude there really isn’t a significant demand for bicycling infrastructure. Planning & Parks will present the plan to the Public Works Committee on May 21, and the County Board is supposed to hear the plan on June 12. The lack of a formal recommendation from the planning committee isn’t necessarily fatal, but it weakens the argument.

Most of the people on the planning committee were elected officials or professional staff in the service of Washington County municipalities—i.e., people who should be working for you. There were numerous public outreach efforts since last summer. Did you participate? Did you contribute suggestions or concerns? Did you contact your representatives to voice your support for bicycling infrastructure? A few people did—the committee counted the number of individuals who gave input at meetings or over the Internet—but certainly there was no groundswell of support.

Where are you, so-called “bikers” of Washington County? I see faint traces of you on social media, not infrequently expressing fears that apparently only a massive investment in infrastructure will address, and not infrequently expecting that “They” should fix your problems. This is who “They” are (or, at least, were until today):

Who are you, really? And what’s it going to take to convince you that you are the most important link in the chain?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Recapping The 2019 Cheesehead Roubaix

How lucky were we yesterday for the 10th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix? The map above shows the Saturday/Sunday forecast issued by the National Weather Service last Friday. I was seriously thinking about rescheduling the ride for May 5. Almost any accumulation of snow would have rendered the unpaved roads effectively impassable by bike, as they would not have been plowed. And what is Cheesehead Roubaix without those unpaved roads?

But as the hours wore on, the storm’s track kept shifting south. In the end, northern Washington and Ozaukee saw only flurries. About 150 riders left Fireman’s Park in Newburg under a brilliant sun and rode in relative comfort: mid-40s and only light winds. Yeah, it was a below-normal turnout on a day with below-normal temperatures, but I was grateful for every rider and every degree. The day exceeded my expectations.

Newburg Fire Department was delighted too. We were a small but generous group, raising more than $1,200 to aid the department in its recovery from damaging floods at Fireman’s Park earlier this year.

My personal performance at Cheesehead Roubaix wasn’t statistically impressive but I was pleased with it. I completed the 63-mile route in 3:52:28, a 16.3 mph average. I rode alone for almost the entire time and would have benefited from a cohesive group. I drifted in and out of a couple groups, but nothing worked for long. Oh, well. I’m most pleased with the way I rode the unpaved sectors—Lovers Lane in particular—where I drew a couple of positive comments from riders who didn’t expect me to fare so well on a standard road bike with 700x25 tires.

Usually I have about 1,000 miles in my legs by the end of April. This year I’m behind schedule: 701 at the end of Cheesehead Roubaix, and I won’t add to that total today or tomorrow. But the weather for next weekend looks good, and that will draw me out … if the forecast proves accurate. I’ve been misled before.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter, Indeed!

West Bend hit 78° this afternoon, making this the warmest day so far in 2019 … and one that won’t be surpassed anytime soon. I count Sunday as the end of my week, not the beginning, so with today’s ride I had 8.5 hours in saddle this week. That’s my biggest training block since the middle of September, even though I didn’t ride yesterday. Saturday was nice enough, but I devoted it to road marking, trash pickup, and other preparations for next Sunday’s Cheesehead Roubaix.

Everyone always asks about Lovers Lane. Rightly so: it’s the toughest of the unpaved sectors on the Cheesehead Roubaix route. But this year there’s a clear Second Best (Worst?). Unless Ozaukee County grades it in the meantime, you won’t believe how bad Sauk Trail Road is. Lovers Lane is still the only 5-star sector but Sauk Trail is now every last bit of 4. A couple of the other sectors have gotten tougher too. Enjoy!

Tomorrow I’m getting my BMC road bike back from Pedal Moraine, where the front shifter needed to be replaced. I love SRAM Red until it breaks, and then I hate paying for the replacement parts. Oh, well. That shifter served me for 12,680 miles, so I shouldn’t complain! Tomorrow’s ride will be my first on the BMC in almost a month. It will be an important shakedown ride for Cheesehead Roubaix and a chance to climb some hills, which I admit I haven’t really been doing so far this year.

In the week to come, keep an eye on the weather. I suppose I could say that every week, but rain would really cut down the attendance at Cheesehead Roubaix. The ride will go on, rain or shine, but I need good weather to get a good turnout to generate a big payday for the Newburg Fire Department. Fireman’s Park really got clobbered by flooding earlier this year, and the donations generated by Cheesehead Roubaix will be a big help in the restoration effort.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Middle Of April

My backyard view this morning at sunrise.

How is Spring 2019 working out for you? Still dealing with snow and wind chill in the 20s, I can't say that I'm impressed. So far, April has been almost a total loss for me as a cyclist.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pedal Fest 2019

1421 S. Main St., West Bend
(262) 338-2453

Monday, April 1, 2019

Not The Biggest Fool

It’s 30-something and snowing right now in West Bend. No fooling; it really is. And that’s not unusual on April 1 but it’s still disappointing.

I’m heading into April far behind where I thought I would be. My 15 rides and 325 miles compare very unfavorably to last year’s pace: 25 rides for a total of 550. Those 325 miles are my weakest effort since 2009, when I entered April with only 275. But I ended 2009 with 4,800 miles—a personal record at the time—and this year my “official” goal is only 3,087, the number I need to reach 70,000, all-time. I’m not worried about hitting my goal, but I can’t say many good things about my 2019 cycling season so far.

Here’s some encouraging news: my weight is down. At 199 pounds, I am 7 pounds lighter than I was on April 1, 2018. Sure, that’s still too heavy, but it’s better. It’s something on which I can hang some hope. I have been working consistently in the home gym throughout the winter and I have made some positive changes to my diet, so there’s good reason to believe my weight will drop significantly once my cycling volume increases. Last year I went from 206 on April 1 down to 186 on October 16, the middle of the cyclocross season. This graph shows my body weight over the last 12 months:

Fat, fit, fat, fit … year after year. That’s a cycle I need to break.