Sunday, May 31, 2020

Watching The Clothes Go Round

See that? That’s a good sign. It’s laundry night for me and I’m cleaning just about every piece of cycling kit I own. And I wouldn’t be cleaning them if I hadn’t used them, now would I? Today I put the finishing touches on a 10.5-hour, 168-mile week. Last week’s effort (May 18-24) was 11 hours, 175 miles. So, that’s a nice block of training to bring May to a close. I’m 21 miles ahead of last year’s pace, and the forecast for the upcoming week is promising. I’ll need 747 miles in June to reach 2,000, and that’s not guaranteed but I feel like after a slow start to this season the tide is now turning in my favor.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

West Bend may have reached 80° yesterday. Different weather websites say different things, and I didn’t see anything higher than 79° first-hand. But there’s no doubt that today we went soaring past the 80° mark. If we didn’t get there yesterday, then today was the first 80° day since September 30 of last year. That’s 8 months ago, and too long from my point of view. I celebrated, of course, with a 2-hour ride during the warmest hours of the day.

Today was Memorial Day, sometimes referred to as the unofficial start of summer. In Wisconsin it’s nothing of the sort, and for proof I offer next weekend’s forecast. We might struggle just to reach 60° on Saturday and Sunday. I will wait to complain about that in its own time; this is supposed to be a day of solemn reflection on the sacrifices of America’s war dead. And here’s something else to ponder:

Someone has placed a ghost bike where the Eisenbahn State Trail meets State Highway 33. Ghost bikes typically mark the locations of vehicle-versus-bicycle crashes—usually fatal ones—and it’s news to me if there has been such a crash at that intersection. Whatever the case, it’s good to remind ourselves of the dangers inherent in what we do … not to live in fear or to create martyrs, but to mitigate those dangers.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Passing A Couple Of Tests

No complaints about the weather today: nearly 80° and sunny this afternoon with manageable winds. It was the nicest day so far this year, and I responded with my longest ride. My solo metric century was almost double the length of my previous best effort. I wasn’t fast but that’s OK; today was about the time and the mileage and, to a lesser degree, the climbing. Right now it seems like every bored professional racer is “Everesting” or chasing Strava KOMs, so my 1,946 feet of climbing won’t seem like much by comparison. But around here, that’s not bad. In fact, it’s the most climbing I’ve done since last August. So, test passed! I accomplished my goals today and had plenty left in the tank when I got home.

I’ve done metric centuries without food before, but today I wanted to take something with me for a mid-ride snack. I grabbed a couple of my homemade CLIF Bar substitutes, wrapped them in waxed paper, and shoved them in my jersey pocket. They worked perfectly! Comprised only of oats, bananas, raisins, and flaxseed meal, there was nothing to melt and nothing to make my fingers sticky. Another test passed!

This turned out to be an 11-hour, 175-mile week, and again you have to go back to last August to find a bigger effort. Hopefully we will have enough stability in our weather to allow me to string together a bunch of weeks like this one. Statistically I am pretty close to last year’s pace, but I still feel like I’m behind.

Friday, May 22, 2020

2020’s First Thousand Miles

Today's ride, enjoyed counterclockwise.

On today’s ride I finally surpassed 1,000 miles, year-to-date. It’s always my desire to hit that mark by the end of April, but in recent years the needle has been moving in the wrong direction:
Well, at least I’ve gotten there. Now I’m going to shoot for 2,000 miles by the end of June. That won’t be easy, but what else do I have to do? I’ve become convinced that the one thing I can achieve in an otherwise lost season is a big mileage total. It’s up to me and no one else, and it’s independent of the fortunes of the races I would like to do and the economy by which I would like not to be forsaken.

Friday, May 8, 2020

2020 WCA Cyclocross Schedule

To the best of my recollection, the Wisconsin Cycling Association’s cyclocross schedule has never survived intact between its first public appearance and the state championships, so take this schedule as a good starting point and not as an unbreakable promise.

In years past we saw races get wiped out by poor preseason planning on the part of the organizers and by bad weather that led some government agency to rescind permission to use its property. Those possibilities still exist, but the biggest question is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will our lives be anything like normal by mid-September? I have my doubts. If they are, then 2020 could be a great cyclocross season in this part of the world. But a lot will depend on whether the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships—December 8-13 in suburban Chicago—take place as scheduled. USA Cycling plans to give an updated statement on June 15. Postponement or cancellation are very real threats. If the national championships stay on the schedule, then having them so close to Wisconsin will add a dimension to the season that wouldn’t be there otherwise. A lot of Wisconsin racers will aspire to compete at nationals, and Illinois racers will flock to our Saturday events in search of points that would be harder to get on a Sunday in the Chicago Cyclocross Cup.

And then there’s the World Cup race at Trek in Waterloo on October 4. With so much uncertainty about not just public health but also the global economy, will the Europeans even bother to show up for the only 2020-2021 World Cup race outside of Europe? Will their teams take on the expense of sending them here? There’s little incentive: with an expanded World Cup schedule, the points lost by skipping Waterloo won’t amount to anything in the final standings. I think the Europeans will let the North Americans have their day, and then the North Americans will have to make some hard decisions about their own campaigns in Europe.

So, be excited about the possibilities, but be flexible with your plans. Cross is coming … probably.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Same As It Ever Was

On this date 10 years ago I started Bike Washington County. I like to think it’s still going strong. Certainly, I still enjoy sharing things with you. But I probably gave myself enough pats on the back in February when I reached 1,000 blog posts, so today I will refrain from congratulating myself further.

Cool picture though, huh?

Sunday, May 3, 2020


This weekend we had back-to-back 70° days with lots of sunshine. Hard to complain about that … unless you were riding a bike. My original plans for long days in the saddle were wiped out by high winds. If you don’t ride, then you can’t imagine how limiting and frustrating it is to battle unrelenting 20+ mph winds. I settled for 30 miles on Saturday and 20 miles today. At least I didn’t have to wear four layers to be warm enough. I won’t be able to say that in the week to come. The 10-day forecast shows a March-like pattern in which we will struggle to reach 50° in the afternoon and our nights will literally be freezing. I thought we were done with that. I was going to start my vegetable garden this weekend; now I’m looking at May 16-17, maybe.

I supplemented today’s too-short bike ride with a 90-minute evening hike around Ridge Run Park. From the time I left home until the time I returned, the temperature dropped 20°. Fortunately I had enough sense to take a jacket to the park. I needed it within the first half hour.

One of these days we’re going to be able to say we had truly nice weather. No asterisk. Not nice but windy. Not nice but cloudy. Not nice for Wisconsin. Just nice. But it won’t be anytime soon.

Friday, May 1, 2020