Monday, July 29, 2019

Summer-wise And Some ... Otherwise

Today’s top priority, bike-wise, was to ensure my tubeless cyclocross tires are properly sealed and inflated. That may seem like a strange concern in July, but ’cross is coming! Practices at West Bend’s Royal Oaks Park begin on August 13 and the first race is on August 24 in Kenosha.

But last weekend belonged to the road. I did a rare morning ride on Saturday before volunteering at the Little Cedar Lake rest stop on the Wisconsin Women Century. On Sunday I watched the final stage of the Tour de France before heading out for a fast 50 miles with Jeff Wren (Team Extreme) on many roads west of I-41 that we had not visited since the days of the Washington County Bicycle Club. So close and yet so far, I guess; I-41 is a substantial obstacle.

Despite a modest start—just 25 miles today—this should be a high-mileage week for me. I want to stretch it out this week and then taper next week in preparation for the Little Apple 100, a gravel road race in Manhattan IL on August 11. But …

Today’s top priority, other-than-bike-wise, was to start looking for a replacement for my 2003 Dodge Caravan. That’s my daily driver, and it’s near death. This has been an expensive year already and replacing a vehicle is no small thing. There may be some cuts coming to my racing schedule.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Why Am I Not Time Trialing?

If you’re watching this year’s Tour de France—and you should be, as it has been a very entertaining edition—then you know yesterday’s stage was the only individual time trial in this year’s race. It was a short one: only 27.2 kilometers / 16.9 miles. Many Grand Tours have been won or lost in an individual time trial, but this year’s Tour de France will not be. Still, time trials continue to be an important part of the sport.

I have done some training TTs, alone and against others, but so far I have done just one honest-to-goodness race of truth: the 2011 Kirke Vei Time Trial in the Wisport series. I did that race on a standard road bike and got smoked by the guys who were rockin’ the aerodynamically superior TT bikes. It’s 8 years later and I think I would give a better account of myself if I tried again … especially if I had the right equipment.

That may seem like a strange sentiment from a guy who this summer has sold his old cyclocross bike and his only mountain bike, leaving just an endurance road bike and a new-ish cyclocross bike in the stable. But I think I have the physiological and psychological makeup to be good at TTs, particularly long ones. With a dedicated TT bike I might be an age grouper with whom to be reckoned. I won’t take on that expense this year, but I won’t rule it out for 2020.

The Wisconsin Cycling Association’s road season is almost exclusively a criterium season, but there are 3 TTs on this year’s schedule. Wisport offers 11 TTs this year, but many are so far away that I wouldn’t consider going to them. My objective, though, would not be to fill my spring and summer with TTs, but rather to give myself a few more opportunities to race close to home. Adding just 2-3 TTs per season might be enough to scratch the itch.

Monday, July 15, 2019

For Sale: 2011 Trek X-Caliber

  • Fun, fast, well-maintained bike with many upgrades from its original configuration
  • Comes with an extra set of wheels already set up with a cassette, tires, tubes, and brake rotors


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Comfortably Warm

Today was the first 90° day in West Bend since August 4, 2018. Too hot, you say? Not for me. I was absolutely in my element this afternoon as I scorched one of my favorite training rides, an out-and-back trip on the Eisenbahn State Trail between West Bend and Campbellsport:

However, today’s effort was not a personal record. My quickest trip to Campbellsport was 51:17 (18.25 mph) on July 4, 2015. My quickest trip back to West Bend was 48:25 (19.33 mph) on April 14, 2015. I’m pretty sure both of those were wind-aided, because that’s flying on a mostly-gravel rec trail!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Super Satisfying Sunday

Today's ride was a counter-clockwise romp through four different counties.
With my second metric century of 2019—the first was Cheesehead Roubaix on April 28—today I finished my biggest week of training since July 2-8, 2018. I spent 12 hours in the saddle and rode a total of 210 miles. Today’s effort was solid from start to finish: 63 miles in 3:30 at an average speed of 18 mph on a route with more than 2,000 feet of climbing.

It was easy to be inspired today. The weather was beautiful and before my ride I watched today’s stage of the Tour de France and both the women’s and the men’s UCI World Cup mountain bike races from Andorra. Unfortunately the Tour and the men’s mountain bike race coincided. I watched them simultaneously but I listened only to the mountain bike race. Its commentary was more valuable to me than the commentary on the team time trial, which is a tactically simple event. Great to see Team Ineos not win the TTT (you’re still Team Sky to me, and you can suck it). Great to see Nino Schurter win a World Cup race for the first time this season. Great to see Anne Terpstra become the first woman from the Netherlands to win a World Cup race … ever. And maybe greatest of all was Jenny Rissveds’ fifth-place finish in just her second World Cup race after two years away from the sport. Rissveds won the gold medal for Sweden in the 2016 Summer Olympics. More recently, she has been very open about her struggle with depression. Mental health issues forced her to retreat from the highest level of competition. Now she’s back, and today her post-race interview was perhaps the most heartfelt, soul-searching self-evaluation I have ever heard from an athlete.

The week to come should look a lot like the week that just ended. There’s more Tour de France and more UCI World Cup mountain bike racing to enjoy. There’s more good weather in the forecast. And there’s a very good chance that I’ll be looking for another metric century next weekend. I want to ensure that I’m very comfortable at that distance before August 11, when I expect to line up for a 100-kilometer gravel road race in Illinois.

Friday, July 5, 2019


If you’re a cyclist in Wisconsin, then you should know about 346.37(1)(c)4. It’s a provision in our statutes that allows you to proceed through a red light under these circumstances:

“Notwithstanding subd. 1., a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle facing a red signal at an intersection may, after stopping as required under subd. 1. for not less than 45 seconds, proceed cautiously through the intersection before the signal turns green if no other vehicles are present at the intersection to actuate the signal and the operator of the motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle reasonably believes the signal is vehicle actuated. The operator of a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, or bicycle proceeding through a red signal under this subdivision shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicular traffic, pedestrian, personal delivery device, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device proceeding through a green signal at the intersection or lawfully within a crosswalk or using the intersection. This subdivision does not affect any authorization for a bicyclist under subd. 2.”

This very situation presented itself to me earlier this week and, knowing the law, I took advantage of it. I was the only person waiting to travel straight west through an intersection. A motorcyclist on my left was waiting to turn south. A couple of automobile drivers behind him also were waiting to turn south. There was no eastbound traffic. With only my bike and the motorcycle foremost at the intersection, the red light wasn’t getting triggered to change. We waited and waited. I even used hand signals to encourage the nearest motorist to move closer to the motorcyclist, hoping he would recognize the situation, but he refused.

Oh, well. Having tried to help everybody, it was time to help myself. When I knew that it was safe to proceed, I did so … prompting a southbound driver to honk a horn at me from a block away. In the driver’s mind I had done something wrong. That’s an unfortunate part of being a cyclist: even when you know you’re right, you’re still wrong if only because you’re something other than a car.

So, does anybody who isn’t a cyclist know about 346.37(1)(c)4? I’m not going to let that question stop me when I have a rare occasion to use it, and I’m ready to defend myself if anybody objects.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Halftime 2019

Sunday provided a fitting end to the first half of 2019. I had to be very patient and let the day evolve. Intermittent rain kept me inside until late afternoon, then I went out for 30 solo miles on the road. It proved to be my fastest ride this year, so it looks like my fitness is coming around. Maybe my entire season is coming around, despite a slow start … and despite an overabundance of rain.

In the week that ended on Sunday, I logged 10.5 hours of saddle time and 178 miles on roads and rec trails. Those are my highest totals this year. June was easily my busiest month so far, and my three biggest weeks have come from the last four. Suddenly, instead of being embarrassingly behind last year’s pace, I’m respectably close. My year-to-date mileage total on June 30, 2018, was 2,228. This year it was 1,909, a deficit of 319 miles.

But I never intended 2019 to be as big a year as 2018, and I’m likely to fall farther behind. I had a big July last year: 852 miles. I don’t think I’ll be riding 1,171 miles this July to catch up! The only 1,000-mile month in my career was July 2011, when I rode 1,020 miles and finished the month almost completely burned out. I can’t afford that this year. July should be a big month for sure, but it won’t be purely about the miles. With cyclocross season starting in August instead of the customary September, this July will feature a mix of long endurance rides and shorter, more intense efforts.

And with a modest goal of 3,087 miles for the year—the number I need to reach 70,000 all-time—I don’t need to be a slave to the odometer. Even an average effort in July and August would get me to 3,087 before cyclocross season begins. No, the best number for me to work on is my body weight. Today the scale said 193, down 4 pounds from the beginning of June and 10 pounds from my off-season peak in February. That’s also 3 pounds less than I weighed last year on this date. Getting my weight down even further will be the best preparation for racing. Bring on the intervals!