Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Sunburst Surprise

Because it was kind of a rest day but not a complete day off, today I decided to visit a short section of the Ice Age Trail that I had not seen before. My brief hike turned out to be something more than I expected.

I started at the Ridge Road trailhead and followed the trail to Sunburst Winter Sports Park. I thought my hike would be a simple out-and-back, but on my return I decided to leave the Ice Age Trail and its familiar yellow blazes for wherever the white blazes might lead. And by following those white blazes I not only got to see even more trail I had never seen before, but I also got to revisit some that I had. In the days of the Sunburst Showdown—formerly part of the Wisconsin Off-Road Series—I raced my mountain bike there. The back of the ski hill always had more potential for fun than the front, but it’s all private property and getting access was a challenge.

Anyway, the combination of the Ice Age Trail and this other trail made for a short but challenging loop with a lot of elevation change. My counter-clockwise, 2.7-mile lap took 47 minutes.

That’s as much as I could squeeze into my schedule today, but I’ll go back soon to knock out a couple of laps now that I know it’s an option.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Ride For The Statuesque And The Not-So-Chiseled

West Bend has a surprising array of no fewer than 36 significant pieces of outdoor sculpture. Some are visible from public streets, but others are tucked away in city parks and the best way to experience the collection is by bicycle. You’ll have that opportunity on the Tour de Sculptures next Sunday, October 3, no matter what kind of bike rider you are. Tour guides will be on hand to provide information about each piece. Check out the flyer below, and keep watching the Facebook event page for updates … especially if bad weather creeps into the forecast.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Late September Is Looking Up

As I mentioned on Monday, I am focusing on climbing for the remainder of September. Today I got plenty: 3,182 feet. There wasn’t a lot of flat road today. Check out the profile:

Today’s ride was stupidly windy too. The combination of hills and wind made for a lower average speed than you should expect from me. I’m very satisfied, though, not disappointed. And I tested a loop in northwestern Washington County that would be excellent for hill repeats. Maybe I’ll go back to it in the week to come. My goal for September is 20,000 feet, and after today’s ride I’m still looking for another 4,019. I’ve allowed myself too many days off the bike this month; otherwise I could have hit my goal with the sorts of rides I usually do. So, now I’m pushing myself and today’s ride was a big step in the right direction.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Last Of The Summer Whines

Autumn will begin on Wednesday. That’s the official start, anyway. Unofficially, autumn has been here since August 31st or thereabouts. It was then that the days became noticeably shorter, the mornings noticeably colder, the leaves a noticeably less uniform green. Things are unraveling quickly. We’re still getting an occasional burst of summer, but have we seen the last of the 80° days in 2021? In the 10-day forecast there are no 80° days and only one 70° day. On Wednesday we might be lucky just to hit 60°. And with overnight temperatures dipping into the low 40s this week I may be turning on the furnace and forgetting all about the air conditioner until next July.

Fortunately, I have no cycling mileage goals for the remainder of September. I will be happy with whatever I get. My real focus will be on climbing: I want to climb at least 1,000 feet on every ride between now and October 1st. That’s not guaranteed around here, and I certainly won’t find it on the Eisenbahn State Trail. I plan to spend the bulk of my time in the Town of Wayne (Washington County’s northwest corner) and in the Northern Kettle Moraine.

When October rolls around I will be in my native Pennsylvania. My vacation will feature some cycling, but in a sense it will be the end of my season. On my return to Wisconsin I will ramp up my cross-training program. More than ever before, this year I have continued to cross-train throughout the cycling season. But autumn, for all of its sickening crimes against cycling, really is the time for those other activities to shine. I plan to walk more, hike more, ruck more, and return to longer and more structured strength training workouts in the home gym. I will be only a fair weather cyclist for the rest of the year.

This morning I reached a walking milestone: 100 walks since I started tracking on Garmin Connect this time last year. And with my next walk I will surpass 300 miles of walking in 2021. Garmin treats hiking and walking as distinct activities, so my hikes have not contributed to these totals. There’s a lot more of this to come in the next three months.

And then what? I’m still thinking about a smart trainer and a Zwift membership to get me through the deepest, darkest months of winter. If something as simple as a Garmin Forerunner GPS-enabled sports watch can make me train more by turning my non-cycling workouts into a game, then how much more would I get out of indoor cycling with Zwift? I hesitate purely on financial grounds. If I could have the equipment and the membership for free, then I would grab it in an instant.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Covering A Lot Of Ground

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.