Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Covering A Lot Of Ground

Meh.
Today I reached 4,000 miles, year-to-date. It’s a nice milestone even if it has become rather common. This is my 13th consecutive season with at least 4,000 miles. And I feel like I have arrived late. Today’s ride was just my 7th ride this month. What about the other 7 days? We’ve had as many bad weather days as good ones, and I’ve been busy with home renovations and other domestic chores. Tomorrow’s weather looks great—just as warm as today but without the high winds—but I probably won’t have a chance to ride. A thousand square feet of new carpet goes into the upper level of my house tomorrow and I have to stick around for the installation. I’ve carved out a 3-hour block just for the arrival of the installers. Who knows how long the job itself will take? I shouldn’t complain; the house will be really nice by Wednesday evening. But halfway through September it looks like I will be well off the pace for a 5,000-mile season. If I’m being honest, then I’ve already given up on that goal. There are others, though. I’m not done.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Taking Things Too Far

It goes without saying that I should not have been using a tire as far gone as the one pictured above, but I was. Until yesterday that was the rear tire on my road bike. Obviously I knew it was on its way out, but I kept getting “just one more” ride out of it. And, trust me, it didn’t look that bad until the very end. I guess it broke through some barrier on its last ride and then started to come apart in chunks. Whatever. Any way you look at it, I should have replaced this tire long ago.

I got thousands of miles from that old Continental Gatorskin and I replaced it—no surprise here—with another Continental Gatorskin, one of the two I bought way back in early November 2019. I put one of those on the front wheel some time ago … wish I could remember the date. Well, I won’t have to guess about the new rear tire; I’m going to use Garmin Connect to track it:

This will be an easy way to tell how many miles I get out of the new tire. I love my numbers and I love getting my money’s worth, but I promise I won’t push this new tire to the ridiculous limits of its predecessor.

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Hasty Retreat Of Summer 2021

It’s Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Perhaps you enjoyed a day off from work. Good for you. For me, it’s just a Monday without mail. I worked last night, I will work again later tonight.

Last Monday we hit 80° in West Bend and we haven’t been close to it since. On Saturday we didn’t even get to 70° and on a couple of occasions in the last week we had overnight lows in the 40s. We also had lots of clouds, a little rain, and generally depressing conditions, all of which figured in my ride statistics. For the week that ended yesterday, I did only 3 rides for a grand total of 100 miles in 6 hours. You have to go back to May 3-9 to find a weaker effort in my training logs. Going into last week I had completed 7 consecutive 200-mile weeks. Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday was my first 3-day break from cycling since May 27-29. I just couldn’t rally myself.

I’m feeling the change of seasons very acutely, again. And it doesn’t help that we’re losing almost 3 minutes of daylight per day. Next Thursday, September 16, will be the last day in 2021 with a sunset later than 7 p.m.  If you live a normal daytime schedule, then it’s getting difficult for you to ride after work. There’s a little more flexibility for me, but even I have to sleep sometime. Right now I’m still trying to sleep away the cooler hours of the morning so that I can ride in the warmest hours of late afternoon, but each afternoon is getting shorter. It won’t be long until I’m staying up after work so that I don’t miss a tiny window of nice weather early in the afternoon, then I’ll sleep in the evening.

My new training week began today with a 32-mile road ride. The forecast isn’t bad, so I’ll try to rack up 200 miles before the week is done. But last week wasn’t an anomaly; it was an omen.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 2021: A Mileage PR

Last year I rode 835 miles in August to set a new personal record. This year I went even farther: 910 miles. And personal records are always satisfying, but this one is a little sweeter because of how busy I was off the bike. In July I mentioned that I was planning to tackle a number of home improvement projects in August and September. So far, so good. There’s a new light fixture above the kitchen sink and there’s fresh paint on the walls of the living room, dining room, hallway, and foyer. Next comes new carpet for the living room, dining room, hallway, foyer, and bedrooms. Getting that done will be my top priority in September.

It won’t be my only priority, though. With good weather I could make a run at a September mileage PR (currently 806). I also have identified 5 new Garmin Connect badges to achieve in the month to come, so there’s some cross-training in my immediate future. Another 5,000-mile season? That’s not a priority, but it is a possibility. I’m finishing August with 3,757 miles, year-to-date. I’m finally ahead of last year’s pace: I had 3,753 miles in my legs at the end of August 2020. August 2021 is now my No. 2 month all-time, trailing only July 2011 (1,020 miles).

Sunday, August 15, 2021

80,000 Miles


Today I surpassed 80,000 lifetime miles. That’s not bad for someone who didn’t start counting his cycling miles until March 26, 2004. I was almost 39 years old. Now I’m 56, and I’m still hoping to hit 100,000 miles sometime around my 60th birthday. With a little effort, I might reach my goal on my birthday.

And here’s a neat coincidence (I swear to you that I didn’t plan this): it was exactly two years ago that I hit 70,000 miles.

As it was on that occasion, so it was today. Getting to the nice round number was my mileage goal for the season. I came into this year 3,316 miles short of 80,000. Now that these objectives are behind me, in a sense anything extra is just gravy. But in another sense it’s damned hard to ride 5,000 miles in 12 months in this climate. So, I will push on. And there are other little prizes to chase, starting tomorrow. With 477 miles so far in August and half of the month remaining, I’m only 358 miles away from 835, the personal record I set just last year. That’s doable.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

First Metric Century Of 2021

Today I did my first metric century of 2021, the counter-clockwise tour depicted on the map above. Not a bad solo effort. I thought I would be doing more rides like this; now I’m wondering whether my first metric century of 2021 will be my only metric century of 2021. I hope not.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Free Helmets!

Need a helmet … or two? I’m giving away these very lightly used Bell Lumen helmets in white/silver. These helmets have never been crashed and are in excellent condition. If you need a large helmet—23.25”-24.75” / 59-63 cm—then contact me through the email widget on the right side of this page and arrange a pickup time.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Still Rolling

Since I embraced foam rolling in December 2012, I have made it an almost daily part of my training. Even on days when I don’t ride my bike, I still stretch and spend a little time with the foam roller. And I know there’s debate about the effectiveness of foam rolling, but if I am really only relaxing for a few minutes, then at least I am relaxing for a few minutes. There’s precious little of that in my life.

My original foam roller went out with this week’s trash. Its departure was long overdue. I had pretty well worn out all of its resistance—for the last few months it was more foam than roller—and it was starting to go to pieces, shedding little black dots all over my carpet. So, now there’s a new one and I haven’t missed a beat. As with most training tools, consistency is the key to results. I’m convinced foam rolling helps me to avoid soreness and even cramping.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Worthy Of A Record, But Not A Record

Close, but no cigar!
It was a busy month in the saddle. I spent almost 54 hours on the bike: 27 rides for a total of 902 miles. That’s my second-highest mileage total in any month ever, beating last month’s 880 miles. But it’s not a record. I still haven’t topped the 1,020 miles I rode in July 2011.

And I still haven’t caught last year’s pace, but I’m close. At the end of July 2020, I had amassed 2,918 miles. Right now I’ve got 2,847 … with 11 fewer rides. That small difference in total mileage combined with this season’s higher miles-per-ride average has me thinking about making this another 5,000-mile year. Getting to that threshold wasn’t in my original plans for 2021, but it’s a very real possibility now. I haven’t had back-to-back 5,000-mile seasons since 2015-2016.

Bring on August!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Dedication


Dedication is the word of the day. It works on two levels. First came the dedication of Bike Friendly West Bend to create on-street bike routes in the city. It was the work of more than 5 years, and in 2017 the dream looked like it was over when the city’s Common Council refused even to vote on the idea. But BFWB stuck with it, breaking down a big plan into smaller, easier-to-digest chunks. Last December the city approved one of those chunks: the Orange Loop. And today BFWB met with city officials at the intersection of Sylvan and Vine for a short dedication ceremony to mark the opening of the route. Mayor Chris Jenkins and City Administrator Jay Shambeau were among those on hand.

After the ribbon-cutting, Shambeau rode the loop with BFWB representatives. It was an opportunity for BFWB to share its observations with someone at City Hall who is in a position to help. Along the way, I commented that the Orange Loop goes where it goes so that it can connect what needs to be connected: residential neighborhoods, schools, parks, and the Eisenbahn State Trail. To the dismay of some critics, the loop does not always travel the best-maintained streets. And one or two intersections will feel a little challenging to a less-skilled, less-confident rider. Witnessing these limitations and fielding recommendations from long-time local advocates like Jeff Puetz and Rich Ramsey will give Shambeau a first-hand perspective to share with city employees and elected officials.

I rode to the dedication ceremony, took the tour, then rode home again. At only 8 miles, it was the shortest ride I’ve done for a while! But it was an important ride. It was a way to show appreciation for the combined efforts of BFWB and City Hall, and it was a chance to have the attention of people in government in a casual but still respectful and collaborative way. It’s only in that way BFWB has been successful, and it’s only in that way BFWB will succeed in the future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Next Two Months




Yesterday I announced to the  West Bend Cyclocross group on Facebook  that I won’t be hosting a practice series this summer. The series ran at Royal Oaks Park from 2012 through 2019, then got wiped out by the pandemic in 2020 along with the entire WCA season. There will be cyclocross in Wisconsin this fall and I intended to bring the practice series back, but my priorities have changed.

In late September my oldest child will return to the nest to enjoy rent-free living and, I presume, accelerated student loan repayment! I couldn’t be more delighted; the house has been empty without my kids. But now there are household projects that just won’t wait any longer, and many of them can be done only with fair weather. None of this stuff was unexpected, but I had a longer timeline in mind when I was building my project list. Fresh paint, new carpet, various other decorating touches … it’s going to feel like a new house, not like the one I have occupied for 20 years. And there will be no shortage of work outside, where the trees are dying but the bushes and weeds are overgrown. Can’t forget about that September 18 block party on my street. I don’t want my house to be that house.

Also, it looks like there will be an East Coast vacation for me in October, which serves as an additional incentive to finish the household projects by the end of September. But as that trip will coincide with one or two WCA cyclocross races, it’s an additional disincentive to commit to the season. I’m still knocking out 12- to 15-hour weeks on the bike, typically surpassing 200 miles per week. My commitment to ride has not changed. But racing is a bad fit at the moment. It wants time, energy, and money when all three are needed elsewhere.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Two-day

Nice day! I did a 2-hour Ice Age Trail hike in the morning …




and a 2-hour road bike ride in the evening …




Each activity completed a 2-point Garmin Connect challenge, so I earned 2 new badges.

It’s good that I continue to find motivation from Garmin, because I’m not finding it in many other places. I am planning for some home renovations and a week-long October vacation, but so far those are only plans. I could use something new and novel right now when things are, frankly, kind of a grind. I’m doing a good job, but sometimes it seems like my only reward is that I get to do the same good job tomorrow.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Just Like Paradise

I averaged 17 mph on Friday’s 42-mile road ride, but as I got close to home the 0.7-mile section of Paradise Drive between 7th Avenue and Stonebridge Road demanded something more. Outside of the city, Paradise Drive is a treat! Within city limits, I usually avoid it. Paradise is one of the least bike-friendly streets in West Bend: too many cars, too many traffic lights, too many conflict points. But for whatever reason, on Friday evening I took it on … and even had fun with it. The secret is speed. Or maybe that’s obvious and not a secret at all. Whatever. Get up to automobile speed and you’ll be fine. Looks like I even had a little burst above the 25 mph speed limit. Sorry, WBPD, got to go along to get along. I was hardly the fastest vehicle on the road; I was just fast enough not to be an impediment. Not one horn sounded. Not one middle finger extended. Not one driver shouted for me to get on the sidewalk … and woe to any pedestrians if I had. Bikes are vehicles. They belong on the streets. The more we share the road with cars in a safe and courteous manner, the more we normalize our presence and improve the relationship between riders and drivers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Halftime 2021




This month, two people suggested to me that my commitment to cycling is waning. I don’t suspect collusion; these people live 1,000 miles apart, have never met, and could not have coordinated their statements in any plausible scenario. And we’re all entitled to our opinions, but first let’s look at some facts.

With 6 months of 2021 behind us and 6 still ahead, I have ridden 1,945 miles. That’s not far behind the 2,096 miles I rode in the first half of 2020, and it’s ahead of my pace from 2019. Last year turned out to be a 5,214-mile season, my 5th best. I’m not shooting for 5,000 this year, but I should be comfortably above 4,000 by the end. And I’m finishing this month with a new personal record for miles in June: 880. That beats the 843 miles I rode last June and it is my second-highest total in any month ever, trailing only my 1,020-mile effort in July 2011. Good, right?

One of the comments about my commitment to cycling was very specific: I’m not doing really long rides anymore. My last 100-mile ride was on August 13, 2017, the 10th Anniversary edition of Race The Lake. But in truth, I have never done a lot of long rides. I have ridden 15 centuries all-time … out of 2,724 career rides. In 2015 when I rode an all-time best 6,236 miles, my average ride was only 29 miles. I did 215 rides that season. Consistency produced that big mileage total; I didn’t ride a bunch of 100 milers.

I think the other comment was substantially influenced by my lower profile on social media this year. On Facebook, Twitter, and even on this blog, I have been saying less about my own cycling activities. Why? I guess it’s because so far in 2021 my rides have been just rides. I haven’t been racing or riding with groups, and there’s a sameness to my training rides that I wouldn’t expect anyone to find interesting. This is Season 18 and much of the novelty is gone. What can I tell you about an out-and-back Eisenbahn State Trail ride or a quick loop around the Cedarburg covered bridge that you haven’t heard before?

A new month begins tomorrow. I don’t plan to make a run at a mileage record in July. But there are several new Garmin Connect goals for the new month and for the new quarter. I’ve been hitting all my targets on Garmin Connect. That’s good. It’s even kind of competitive. But it’s not racing. Perhaps my biggest challenge in July will be to find the motivation to train specifically for cyclocross. If I don’t race this fall, then I don’t know if I ever will again. And at that point I wouldn’t be able to deny that my commitment has waned.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Some Cycling Notes For June 2021

Today's route, completed counter-clockwise.



Today was my third straight day on the bike, so I guess I have another streak going. But it doesn’t compare to the 22 consecutive days on the bike from May 30 through June 20. I had hoped to ride every day this month … and then “summer” arrived. On Monday the 21st the air temperature reached only 64° in West Bend. That’s 15° below average, and it was windy in the bargain: it felt like only 50-something. I couldn’t be bothered. I was still demoralized on Tuesday, so one rest day became two. Today we got back to 80° for the first time since last Friday but there isn’t another 80° day in the 10-day forecast. And the severe lack of rain that has plagued us this year? We’re on our way to solving that! There’s a chance we will see at least some rain every day for the next week.

The Tour of America’s Dairyland has carried on despite the recent rains. ToAd will conclude on Sunday in Wauwatosa. I made a brief appearance in Grafton last Saturday before I had to beat the sunset back to West Bend. Saturday is a work night for me, after all. And I meant to check out Downer Avenue last night but I couldn’t justify the drive down to Milwaukee when the chance of rain was so high. If you insist on racing in the rain, then that’s fine but don’t expect me to stand in it to watch you. This evening I might have gone down to Shorewood but I got such a late start on my day that it was either ToAD or my own ride, and my own ride was more important to me. If tomorrow’s forecast proves true, then the day might be a complete washout and my new streak will come to an end.

This rainy period is threatening Sunday’s WORS race in Waterloo. Saturday’s pre-ride has been canceled and Sunday’s racing schedule has been pushed back to allow pre-riding in the morning. But the whole weekend could be wiped out if we get another 1.5-2 inches of rain in the next 24 hours.

In better news, WEMS announced on Wednesday that there will be a mountain bike race at New Fane on July 10. That’s great for racers in this part of the state. Without New Fane on the calendar, the closest WEMS venue was Wausau … more than 150 miles from West Bend.

Finally, the Tour de France will begin tomorrow. I won’t be following the live TV coverage the way I once did. For most stages, I will rely on YouTube for highlights. But two stages will be shown on standard broadcast TV. Tune into NBC—that’s Channel 4 in the Milwaukee market—to watch Stage 14 on Saturday, July 10, and Stage 21 (the finale on the Champs-Élysées) on Sunday, July 18.

Friday, June 11, 2021

The 2021 WCA Cyclocross Calendar




The Wisconsin Cycling Association announced its 2021 cyclocross calendar today and Washington County will have a race for the first time in almost a decade. But that race won’t be at River Hill Park in Kewaskum, where we raced in 2011 and 2012. The new venue is Richfield Historical Park.

There are always some differences between the season that is planned and the season that is raced, and the schedule in its current form recognizes the uncertainty still presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, expect some changes but start looking forward to the season.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Return Of The 200-Mile Week

I was on my way to my first 200-mile week of 2021 last month when bad weather wiped out Sunday the 23rd and I had to settle for a lousy 179. But this week I flew past the 200-mile mark, finishing with 246. I spent 15 hours, 15 minutes in the saddle. It was my biggest week of training since September 21-27 last year, when I rode a personal best 283 miles in 16:44. Stringing together 90° days is always going to meet with my approval, but I could do without the wind. I’m happy with the numbers I put up this week, but they would have been even bigger if I didn’t feel limited by high winds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Up With Downer!



Was it only Monday that I was lamenting the absence of the Downer Classic from this year's Tour of America's Dairyland schedule? ToAD caught me off guard in a good way today by reinstating the race. The Downer Classic won't occupy its usual Saturday slot, but a Thursday works even better with my weird work schedule. See you there!

Monday, May 31, 2021

Some Notes To End May 2021


May is a spring month in Washington County, not a summer month, so again we took the bad with the good as the weather fluctuated wildly. We had some days in the 80s, some days with wind chill in the 30s, and everything in-between. We had rain, but not too much. And we had wind … lots of wind. I didn’t have big expectations coming into May, so I’m satisfied with what I got: 17 rides for a total of 550 miles, my highest totals so far this year. Add another 47.4 miles of walking/hiking and it was an active month. Looks like I may have lost a couple of pounds. I’ll know tomorrow when I do my “official” monthly weigh-in.

There was bike racing in Wisconsin—four of my Pedal Moraine teammates competed in the WORS season opener on May 16—and there was bike racing around the globe, with very competitive UCI Mountain Bike World Cup races and a terrific Giro d’Italia. May also was a month of steady progress in the development of the new mountain bike trails at Heritage Trails County Park near Slinger. And here in West Bend, the city has started to install the signs for our first official bike route, the “orange loop.” This is all good stuff!

I did a little shopping in May, adding two jerseys, another pair of bib shorts, and a couple of better water bottles. I’m looking for a new helmet too, but I don’t need much more. I appear to be finishing a process I began last year when it seemed like all my cycling kit wore out at once.

June should be a high-mileage month for me. It typically is, and last June was a personal record: 843 miles. But June will be somewhat atypical this year for the Tour of America’s Dairyland. ToAD was canceled outright in 2020 because of the pandemic. It’s back for 2021, but it will not feature the Downer Avenue race that, for me, was its signature event. Weather permitting, I will be an unmasked face in the crowd in Grafton on June 19 and in Shorewood on June 25. Somebody beer me—the good stuff, not that watery, low-cal, domestic swill—and let’s all start to feel normal again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Finally: 1,000 Miles In 2021




I was on a mission today … a slow, wind-blown, and by the end chilly mission to reach 1,000 miles, year-to-date. With 5 miles to go I was very conscious of the 13° temperature drop and I retreated to my house for the arm warmers I had talked myself out of about 2 hours earlier. Oh, well. Mission accomplished: my first 1,000 miles of 2021 are complete. This is the latest date on which I reached 1,000 miles since May 28, 2007, and I now have a streak of 6 seasons in which I reached the milestone later than the year before. I’m starting to wonder whether I ever again will finish this goal before the end of April. I haven’t done so since 2017. It probably doesn’t matter, but I always thought April 30 was a good target.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Finding A Little

Today's route, completed counter-clockwise.



If this blog goes silent, then you can be sure I’m not happy with how things are going on the bike. Such was the case for the last couple of weeks. This month began with a pair of 80° days but then rapidly dropped below normal for two weeks. I struggled to find the motivation to ride. I wasn’t completely idle—I did a lot of walking/hiking and I stuck to my strength training schedule in the home gym—but in the first 12 days of May I reached for my bike only 3 times.

Things look like they’re about to get much better: I reached for my bike 3 times in the last 4 days. Today’s ride was by far my fastest this year. Friday’s ride was by far my hilliest this year. The week to come will be much warmer than the week that just ended. I hope that means I can record my first 200-mile week of 2021. I need to start cranking those out like I did last year.

Today’s ride, my 28th this season, got me to 719 miles. I am well behind last year’s pace for both metrics. But I’m going to make an earnest effort to surpass 1,000 miles by the end of May. In a good year, that’s a number I see by the end of April. Yes, I’m that far behind. Good times are coming, though. Better weather, better attitude. Better attitude, better performance.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Rusco Trailhead Groundbreaking

It has begun! The southern terminus of the Eisenbahn State Trail at Rusco Drive will have several new amenities this year, and today a group of about 50 people turned out to celebrate the beginning of construction. The ground is being cleared on both sides of the trail to accommodate off-street parking, a bike repair stand, portable toilets, and more. This picture gives some idea of the orientation of the parking spaces:


Several local dignitaries were on hand from the City of West Bend and from Washington County government. County Executive Josh Schoemann read a proclamation honoring the work of Bike Friendly West Bend President Jeff Puetz, who addressed the audience:

Bike Friendly West Bend raised $20,000 for the project and played a key role in keeping the conversation going for more than 5 years. The project stalled when a telephone company raised the issue of liability if construction disturbs its underground lines. BFWB helped to coordinate conversations with all stakeholders at the local, county, and state levels to overcome the opposition.

Puetz is now the outgoing president of BFWB. He is retiring from corporate life at the end of the month and will step away from his leadership role in the advocacy group soon thereafter as he moves on to a new set of goals. Replacing him will be hard—it might be impossible—but there’s still more work for BFWB to do. If you have an interest in that role or would like to volunteer to help BFWB in some other capacity, then let me know. Let’s keep the ball rolling!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Meh

April 3-7 was uncommonly nice in Washington County: 5 straight days in the 70s. That’s about 20° above the average daytime high for that time of year, and of course it couldn’t last. When things went back to normal I went back to accepting any excuse not to ride my bike. On the days that failed to reach 50° I could argue—if only to myself—that it was too cold. On other days it was too windy or too rainy. One week ago today it was too snowy, and for proof I recall to your memory the 100-car pileup on Interstate 41 that left one person dead and sent several others to the hospital.

Today was … just OK. Yeah, you read that right. Sure, we got back above 70° for the first time since April 7, and I did my first full-distance Eisenbahn State Trail ride of 2021. But it was 74° when I started at 1 p.m. and only 61° when I got back at 4:30. The wind shifted from southeast to northeast when I was about 12 miles into my 50-mile ride. I had studied the forecast and expected the shift to come a little later and a little more gradually, but when it came it was like somebody threw a switch labeled “Screw you, Dave.”

And keeping with the theme of just OK, that badly neglected bridge south of Old Fond du Lac Road in Kewaskum has been repaired. It’s far better than the decaying mess it had become, but I’m not a fan of bridge decking that runs in the same direction as bicycle traffic:




The perpendicular decking is great: a bike rider will hit that at a 90-degree angle. But the middle of the bridge will be a problem eventually. Decking pops up when it wears out. When the perpendicular planks start to pop up, they will do so at the edges of the bridge where there’s no traffic. In the middle of the bridge, planks will pop up in a high traffic area. That’s a tripping hazard for walkers and a potential over-the-bars danger for bike riders. There’s also expansion and contraction to consider. It’s not a problem when the gaps between perpendicular planks get a little wider—your tires will handle that easily—but it’s a bicycle tire trap when gaps appear between planks running in the same direction as the trail. I asked a Washington County administrator with oversight for this project to ensure that all bridge decking be perpendicular, but I was ignored. So, good luck to you. Don’t be the person who proves me right.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Coming Soon: Celebrate Trails Day




Next Saturday, April 24, is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s nationwide Celebrate Trails Day. Here in Washington County we have lots of trails, but only one rail trail: the Eisenbahn. Washington County government will provide cleanup kits and instructions for volunteers who want to help with litter removal. If you can help, then please see the county’s Facebook event page or go directly to the signup website.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Breaking Ground South Of Town


This is a big deal! Bike Friendly West Bend, the City of West Bend, Washington County, the DNR, the DOT … lots of different groups have looked at the southern terminus of the Eisenbahn State Trail over the years and always they have agreed that the trailhead needed to be improved. Standing in their way, however, was a telephone company whose buried lines in the old railroad corridor might be compromised by construction. All opposition is finally laid aside and the trailhead improvements are coming soon! Watch for off-street parking, a portable toilet, a bike repair stand, and other amenities. The new trailhead will have come a long way from its origins. Check out this picture I took in 2004, before paving and even before the old rails were pulled from the road:



Thursday, April 8, 2021

2021 Washington Park Velodrome Schedule

Track racing is returning to the Washington Park Velodrome in Kenosha. Here’s the schedule for the 2021 season:


Saturday, April 3, 2021

The 2021 WORS Schedule Redux

Way back on July 6, 2020, WORS announced its 2021 schedule. Yesterday it made a big splash across social media with a new announcement, and people reacted as if all the information were minty fresh. In truth, the new schedule is almost identical to the original. But whatever; people are excited about the return of bike racing, and that’s a good thing. Here’s the revised schedule:


Friday, April 2, 2021

For Sale: Cycling Fan Bundle

All items: cash only.

DVDs
$5 each or $20 for the lot
  • American Flyers
  • Breaking Away
  • The Flying Scotsman
  • Joe Kid on a Stingray: The History of BMX
  • 2003 Liege-Bastogne-Liege & Flèche Wallonne
  • 2004 Paris-Roubaix
  • 2006 Giro d’Italia



Rabobank Replica Jersey (Men’s XL)
$10




Team Discovery Channel Fan Pack
$10
  • 2 water bottles (never used)
  • 1 LIVESTRONG bracelet

Thursday, April 1, 2021

For Sale: 26-inch Mountain Bike Wheels




$40

This is a mismatched set of 26-inch wheels. Front: Matrix 550 rim, Trek / Gary Fisher OEM alloy hub, black. Rear: Alex x2000 rim, Shimano FH-RM-40-8 8-speed hub, silver. Both rims are drilled for Schrader valves. No rim strips. Cash only.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

For Sale: Yakima “Super Joe” Bike Rack




$60

Strong and versatile 2-bike trunk/hatch rack from Yakima, for use with most coupes, sedans, and minivans. User’s guide included. Cash only.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

For Sale: Thule “Spare Me” Bike Rack




$120

Enjoy worry-free transport for 1 or 2 bikes with the super strong Thule “Spare Me” rack for Jeeps, RVs, and other vehicles with an exposed spare wheel. This rack locks to a mount behind the spare wheel and the arms easily fold down when not in use. Original box and installation instructions are included. Cash only.




Monday, March 29, 2021

Everything Must Go!




Well, not everything … but I am having a sale this week. Come back tomorrow through Friday for great deals on bike stuff from my personal collection.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

March 2021 News And Notes

As you may have guessed, there won’t be a Cheesehead Roubaix this year. I’ve known that for a while and on Monday it became “Facebook official,” so there you go. Until we get past mask wearing and social distancing, I can’t be bothered. Let’s put this ridiculous pandemic behind us and shoot for April 24, 2022.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that West Bend has begun the installation of the Orange Loop, the city’s first signed and painted bike route. It’s not much to look at right now, just a few naked signposts. Soon, though, you will have an east-west loop to complement the north-south Eisenbahn State Trail. The route will connect multiple parks, schools, and commercial areas. I will be very interested in how people use it once it’s ready. I rode the 5.5-mile loop on Sunday, but I left off the spur that runs over to the UW-Milwaukee Washington County campus.

Even more good news: Logan Bliss, Washington County’s new Parks & Trails Manager, confirmed today in a meeting with Bike Friendly West Bend that the county will move forward this year with the development of the long-awaited Rusco Drive trailhead at the southern terminus of the Eisenbahn. That development will add parking, a portable toilet, a bike repair stand, and other amenities to the popular access point.

In early February credible sources announced that this season’s cyclocross nationals would be held in suburban Chicago, which would have been the site of last season’s championships if not for the pandemic. USA Cycling confirmed the location last week. It remains to be seen how nationals will affect the Wisconsin cyclocross calendar. Don’t be surprised if the season is very Saturday-heavy to allow our top riders to compete on Sundays in the Chicago Cyclocross Cup series, races with higher point values whose participants will get better starting positions at the national championships.

It also remains to be seen whether there will be a full road racing season in Wisconsin this year. Wisport and the ABR have announced a handful of events, but there’s still no word from the WCA and there’s still no guarantee that the Tour of America’s Dairyland will take place. But it looks like there will be both a Wisconsin Off-Road Series season and a Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series season. WEMS announced its calendar on Tuesday and it looks like this:

6/05 - Jack Lake Crazy 8's @ Deerbrook
6/19 - Romp in the Swamp @ Wausau
7/10 - TBD
8/21 - Thunderdown in the Underdown @ Gleason
9/04 - Buzzard Buster @ Neillsville
9/25 - RASTA Rock N Root @ Rhinelander

I’m very unlikely to line up for any of those, but the most intriguing one is July 10’s “TBD.” Remember when a WEMS season included races at places like Greenbush, New Fane, Alpine Valley, and John Muir / Emma Carlin? It will be a real shame if the series has disappeared from southeastern Wisconsin.

Finally, April 24 will be the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Celebrate Trails Day for 2021 and there will be many opportunities for volunteers to help clean up the Eisenbahn. Hope for good weather and watch this blog for more details soon.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday, March 8, 2021

Looking For Some Momentum

Today's improvised ride.

This afternoon when West Bend hit 60° for the first time since November 19, out I went! We didn’t set a record, but we were a full 20° above normal for March 8. And we may reach 60° again on Tuesday and Wednesday before we slide back toward seasonal averages. I have a lot of winter weight to lose and a lot of fitness to recapture, but it’s great to be moving again. Today’s ride was my fourth in the last six days, which is good for this time of year. At the end of this week, the return of Daylight Saving Time will make things even better for me. If the weather doesn’t take too much of a bad turn, then I will start stretching out my rides next week. I haven’t gone past 27 miles yet this year. I need miles ... lots of them.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Season 18 Begins!




Slow and short, but who cares in February? Today I rode my bike outside for the first time since December 10, exactly 11 weeks ago, and the weather forecast looks good for this time of year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Way I Use My Walk




Most of us learn to walk by the time we’re 1 year old and then don’t think about it thereafter. But bipedalism is pretty cool. For one thing, it allows us to carry way more stuff than we could otherwise, and that’s a useful adaptation when we’re gathering food or assaulting our enemies with any number of clever handheld weapons.

I’ve been walking a lot during the last few months—I didn’t miss my chance today, the first 40° afternoon in West Bend since December 23—and I haven’t just enjoyed walking; I’ve enjoyed how I walk. It’s purposeful and efficient. It’s head up, shoulders back, eyes straight ahead. It’s maybe a little haughty, maybe a little disdainful of the shoegazing shufflers who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the wild without being eaten by something they never saw coming. It’s also the product of some refinements over the years, most notably in high school when a female classmate pointed out how pigeon-toed I was. I haven’t been pigeon-toed since; I’ve trained it out of my gait.

I’m closing in on 100 miles of walking this year. That’s walking expressly for fitness, not counting my steps during everyday activities. This will be the first full year with data, so 2022 will be the first full year of trying to beat old records! That’s just how I’m wired. So, what are we talking about … 500 annual miles? Could be. Walking has been great for offseason cross-training, but I’m still principally a cyclist and our improving weather forecast is going to compel me to start riding again very soon. I think there will be time enough for both, but cycling is going to win if there’s only enough time for one.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Seeing Something New

That’s Sunburst Winter Sports Park in the background, 6 miles to the southwest. (Nathan Patton photo)
Ever so briefly, in West Bend today we surpassed 32° for the first time since February 4. (The last 2.5 weeks weren’t just below freezing, they were way below freezing.) But the wind was biting today, and the absence of sunshine also made things feel much colder than the thermometer led us to expect. With a few days around 40° in the forecast, I might be riding outdoors sometime in the week ahead. Today was still too cold for that, but it was good enough for a hike on the Ice Age Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine.

I did a 5-mile, out-and-back hike on a section of trail that I had not seen before, roughly from St. Matthias Catholic Church to New Fane. There was plenty of elevation change, plenty of snow, a steady hum of snowmobile engines, and a very unexpected encounter with a horse-drawn sleigh. It was a good workout and a good break from the home office, where I spent entirely too much time during the last week.

One of these days—a warm, snow-free one—I want someone to drop me off at a distant trailhead so that I can spend a whole day on the trail just walking home. There’s so much of it nearby and so much more for me to see for the first time.

Friday, February 12, 2021

It’s (Kind Of) Working

It was a double-dipping effort today: 2 badges for the price of a single, 3-mile walk.

To be precise, the middle of winter was last Wednesday, February 3. If you’re a “glass half full” person you could say that winter is more than halfway done. But in West Bend winter pays no attention to the spring equinox, which this year will occur on Saturday, March 20. No, in West Bend winter might hang on all the way through April. You just never know. And when it comes to our weather, I’m very much a “glass half empty” person. I expect the worst and, for what it’s worth, I’m seldom wrong. So, it’s no surprise to me that here in the reputed latter stages of winter we’ve now had 8 consecutive days with below-zero wind chill and we’re going to have at least 4 more before the big warm-up that gets us close to 20°.

Historically, the average high temperature in West Bend in February is 31° and, as you would expect, the month typically begins below the freezing mark and finishes above it. Right now we’re at the turnaround point … historically. The average high on February 12 is 32°, but on this February 12 we made it only to 9°. It was properly cold despite brilliant sunshine, and with the wind chill the mid-afternoon “feels like” temperature was -8°. Riding my bike was absolutely not an option. I did, however, get some outdoor exercise.

In early December I wrote about the potential of Garmin Connect to encourage me to exercise more during the winter. And it has: by the end of that month I had completed 12 walks for a total of 44 miles. In January I did 11 walks for a total of 50 miles. So far this month I have walked 4 times for a total of 18 miles, including a 3-mile walk today. I would have done a few of those activities even without Garmin Connect, but there’s no doubt that I was driven to do more by the ability to track my efforts and to be rewarded for them with Garmin’s badges and points. Don’t let it trouble you that the badges are just computer icons and the points have no monetary value. The 17 badges and 22 points I have earned since December 1 were mostly rewards for exercising consistently. And that’s really all I have to do at this time of year.

Questing for badges and points encourages me to do a variety of activities. I mean, you can’t earn a walking badge if you do nothing but cycling. Variety is beneficial for any number of reasons—e.g., strengthening muscles that I can’t target effectively on the bike, promoting bone cell growth in ways that zero-impact sports do not, breaking up the monotony of single-sport training, and so on. Perhaps in 2021 I finally will commit to aerobic cross-training throughout the year, not just during the cycling offseason.

I am already thinking about how I might accommodate a two-a-day plan when I start riding outside again. I like the idea of an early morning 5K ruck march and a late afternoon bike ride, at least early in the season when outdoor rides are relatively short. Burning an extra 2,500-3,000 calories per week simply by walking couldn’t be a bad thing. I didn’t gain a single pound in January. That’s unusual and obviously welcome and certainly a product, at least in part, of all that walking. But I’ve been a little piggy this month and will have to make amends before my weigh-in on March 1. Garmin called me outside today with a promise of 2 different badges that I could earn with a single activity, so I bundled up and did just enough to meet its requirement. That’s not really in the spirit of the challenge, but it’s more than I would have done otherwise. Now I have to motivate myself for the remainder of February. Game on, again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

More Signs Of What Might Be

On the heels of last week’s announcement of a 2021-2022 UCI Cyclocross World Cup season that will begin with 3 dates in the United States comes today’s big news: the 2021 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships will be held in suburban Chicago, December 7-12. It’s a do-over for Cantigny Park in Wheaton IL, whose plans to host the 2020 championships were wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This news has obvious ramifications for the Wisconsin cyclocross schedule, as our state association recognizes that many of our racers will participate in a national championship week so close to home. With top domestic pros and many amateurs competing on the prior weekend at the UCI Pan American Cyclocross Championships in Oklahoma, don’t be surprised to see a USA Cycling regional championship on December 4 or 5 somewhere in the Upper Midwest. And if that happens, then look for the Wisconsin state championships no later than November 27 or 28.

For what it’s worth, Illinois and Wisconsin typically hold their state championships on consecutive weekends, and there’s some cross-pollination—no pun intended—by racers who want to compete even if they are ineligible for another state’s title. But that won’t be the case this year: the Illinois championships will be held on October 2 in downstate Beardstown.

Where?



If that seems awfully early and awfully far away from Chicago, then you’re not wrong. But the Chicago Cyclocross Cup pulled the plug on its season early in 2020, leaving Beardstown as the only applicant for the state championships. Those races ultimately were not held due to the pandemic, but Beardstown’s bid will carry over to this season.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Let's Hope

Hot off the press! Click here to see the full schedule.


If this actually happens, then 2021-2022 will be the biggest season in the history of American cyclocross. The first 3 of the 16 races on the World Cup calendar will be in the United States, including a return to Trek headquarters on October 10. And we’ll host the UCI World Championships next January in Arkansas. Go away, coronavirus. Don’t wreck this for us.