Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fuel For Long Rides?

For quite a while I have been searching for a cheap, homemade replacement for CLIF Bars, which I love but, you know, they’re more than $1 apiece and I’m a tightwad. Earlier this year I thought I had found the right recipe, but the bars wouldn’t hold together. I ended up with a very serviceable granola: nothing went to waste, but it didn’t live up to its promise. Now I think I have hit on a real winner.

I spotted this recipe online, then customized it to my own tastes. The most important change I made was to add a third banana, as the mixture seemed too dry when I used only two as recommended.

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Mash 3 medium-sized bananas to create a “batter”
  • Add 1½ cups of rolled oats
  • Add ⅓ cup of raisins
  • Add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal
  • Mix thoroughly by hand
  • Form into 9-10 CLIF Bar-sized servings (these will not spread out as they bake)
  • Place on a baking sheet coated lightly with cooking spray
  • Bake for 15 minutes

The result is really satisfying to eat and something I think I could wrap in plastic and take on a long bike ride without any mess. (The chocolate chips in the original recipe could be a problem.) The finished product doesn’t make my fingers sticky. These are easy to digest too: simple, natural ingredients with no added sugar.

If you know me well, then you know that I am no cook! This recipe, though, barely qualifies as cooking. It’s so easy. And obviously it’s customizable. Maybe someday soon I will try dried cranberries or chopped dates instead of raisins. But what I really want to try is to take these out of the kitchen and onto the bike.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Today's consolation prize.
Today is the last Sunday in April, so I should be recapping this year’s Cheesehead Roubaix. It would have finished in sunny, 60° magnificence for a change. But, of course, there was no Cheesehead Roubaix today. It’s another COVID-19 cancellation. I thought only for a moment about postponing instead, and then I realized that there wasn’t any new date to choose. Every estimate for “reopening” America is just a rough guess. Nobody really knows, and a premature easing of restrictions that proves politically popular could prove disastrous for public health, leading to a second and perhaps more stringent lockdown.

But this isn’t going to be a complete downer of a blog post; I did ride my bike today: 50 kilometers—half the Cheesehead Roubaix distance—and my lower back didn’t complain once, which was a nice surprise. I have had some back pain and limited range of motion since Monday, but as it has gotten better each day I decided to chance a ride. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. If I have come back too soon, then at least only I will suffer for it.

And even more good news: we appear to be done with freezing temperatures for a while. Today I hooked up the garden hose for the first time since October and gave my bikes a long overdue shower.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

There’s That Wisconsin Spring!

April began with such promise: 7 rides in the first 7 days, 10 rides in the first 12 days. And then our characteristically bad springtime weather returned with a vengeance: cold temperatures, high winds, snow. Yesterday was our first 60° day in a week, but relentless 20-30 mph winds kept me off the bike. I did a solid ruck march on the Eisenbahn State Trail and through Forest View Park, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I even got to wear the super cool Merrell trail shoes I bought earlier this year:

Those haven’t seen a lot of action yet, but I expect to have them for a long time. (Would you believe I still have these after almost 10 years?) The Merrells will be my light-duty hikers when I don’t need the extra protection of beefy leather boots. Walking and hiking challenge the body in ways that cycling does not. Both activities are low-impact, but as weight-bearing activities they still stimulate bone cell growth better than cycling. Neither is an anaerobic challenge, but their slow-paced nature makes them great at burning fat while keeping cortisol (stress hormone) levels in check.

Today I got back in the saddle after a 1-week absence. I was content with 24 miles around town. With wind chill in the low 40s, I wasn’t feeling ambitious, but at least the sunshine was nice. Lack of ambition has been kind of a theme for me this season. I still haven’t done a ride in excess of 30 miles. I just can’t talk myself into a multi-hour ride encumbered by layer upon layer of thermal clothing. I'm out of hope for April, so perhaps May ...

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Signal To Noise

I am done with Cyclingnews and VeloNews. I have unliked/unfollowed them on all social media platforms and I have removed the VeloNews feed that used to reside in the right-hand column of this blog. Because these media organizations continue to glorify the exploits of known dopers and continue to give them the appearance of credibility and relevance by using them as sources even after some of them have received lifetime bans from cycling’s governing bodies, I no longer will support Cyclingnews or VeloNews in any way. There are plenty of other cycling news sources from which to choose—e.g., the governing bodies, the race organizations, the teams, and the riders themselves—and most Cyclingnews and VeloNews content comes from these sources anyway. The difference, as I see it, is that these other sources don’t feel compelled to stir up controversy to generate page visits and advertising impressions, and in general they keep apart from riders who have disgraced themselves and brought our sport into disrepute. If the people who genuinely care about cycling don’t stand up for what is right, then parasitic organizations like Cyclingnews and VeloNews will continue to drag the sport through the cesspool of its shameful past.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Do You Want The Good News, Or … ?

OK, the good news: today was the first 70° day in West Bend since October 9th, 6 months ago. I rode outside for the 7th day in a row and for the 8th time in the last 9 days. It was awesome to ride without thermal everything.

The bad news is that the nice weather won’t last. I’ll make every effort to ride tomorrow, but after that …

And the really bad news today is that my hours at work have been cut by 20 percent, which means my income has been cut by 20 percent. If the most alarming unemployment forecasts prove true in the wake of COVID-19, then I’ll count myself lucky just to have a job. But right now all I can see is hardship ahead. This is gonna suck. Bike racing? Forget about it. I’ve taken my 2020 Calendar page down. This might be a year with no license, no races, no special events of any kind.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Training (For What, I Don’t Know)

Today's ride: good enough for early April, right?

Today was the end of my training week and I’m happy with the numbers. I did 6 rides in the last 7 days for a total of 150 miles. So, yes, they were relatively short rides and they were pretty slow, but that’s not important right now. You have to go back to September 16-22 to find my last 150-mile week, and to September 2-8 to find my last 6-ride week. That’s 7 months ago. Ouch.

Tomorrow I will surpass 500 miles, year-to-date, putting me about 2 weeks ahead of last year’s pace. Raw mileage isn’t everything, but for me there’s usually a correlation between mileage and fitness. I expect to be satisfied with my progress if I’m close to 1,000 miles by the end of this month. And it’s looking more and more like I’m not going to race until cyclocross season, so there’s plenty of time to get fit.

I will be busy for the next few days, dodging raindrops if necessary. There’s a cold front coming late Wednesday afternoon and we might feel like winter has returned. I don’t want to give up the momentum I built this week, but when the wind chill drops back into the 20s on Thursday there’s little chance that I will be persuaded to ride.

Friday, April 3, 2020


I don’t write a lot of checks. In 2019 I wrote only 7, and 5 of them were to government entities that penalize citizens for paying by credit card. I understand that the credit card companies have transaction fees, but I’m very disinclined to pay them in the form of “convenience” charges.

Today I wrote my second check of 2020. Like the first one, it was a quarterly water bill payment. Also like the first one, it was delivered to City Hall by hand. That’s how cheap I am sometimes: I won’t even part with an envelope and postage stamp if I can help it.

I’m not a bike commuter and it’s a rare day when I run errands on the bike, but today I did. The dropbox at City Hall is super convenient. I rode straight to it from home, left my payment, then did the rest of my ride. Fitness, frugality, and social distancing? Check, check, and check!