My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Rides

So I'm looking at the calendar trying to figure out when and where I can ride an organized ride that isn't too far away.  There are three coming up in the next 6-1/2 weeks that I am really interested in.  Two are on the same weekend (4/30 and 5/1).

The first is a charity ride, Feed the Need Ride, raising funds for local food pantries in SW WI.  That part of the state has always struggled economically for as long as I can remember.  (I grew up in Dbq, IA which is just across the Mississippi River from this region.)  So, this is a great cause.  There's a 12-mi family ride option, two 50K rides (morning and afternoon - or you can do both!), 75K, 100K, or a 150K.  I am thinking I'll sign up for the 75K ride. 

The next ride is a part of LaCrosse Fitness Festival the weekend of April 29-May1.  In addition to a marathon, half-marathon, and cycling criterium, there is also a bike tour of the Coulee Region on Saturday of the weekend, with 32 and 62 mile options.  The website describes the rides as "a liesure, noncompetitive, untimed event."  But goes on to describe the 62-mi route as having "rolling hills and a few major climbs. Incredible scenery and great cycling for the experienced rider!"  I am torn.  I would like to do the 62, but...

The next day is the Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride and Minnesota Gran Fondo (MGF).  The Gran Fondo is a timed ride, with 68 and 100 mile options.  The riders ride the same course as those doing the untimed Ironman Ride.  The Ironman also has 17 and 30 mile options.  There is a limited number of riders for the MGF, but if I can't get in that, I can still ride the Ironman.  The only difference is the timing mechanism.  And the reg fees for the MGF include the jersey.  The Ironman jersey is sold separately (and I might not buy it - not a great design, imo).

I could do a 62-mi ride in LaCrosse on Saturday and a timed 100-miler on Sunday if I were back in RAGBRAI shape.  But, I'm not.  Right now, I'm riding 3-miles twice a day during the week and getting in a 12-15 mile ride in on the weekend.

If I didn't have other commitments after-work, maybe I could devote more time to riding a couple/few hours each day and take longer rides on the weekends and it wouldn't be a problem.  But, I don't know if I can get enough serious ride time in to be ready for a 100K and a 100-mi on consecutive days.

What do you think?
a) 62-mi in LaCrosse + 100-mi MGF,
b) 32-mi in LaCrosse + 100-mi MGF,
c) 62-mi in LaCrosse + 68-mi MGF, or
d) 32-mi in LaCrosse + 68-mi MGF?

If I were to be conservative, I would (and maybe should) choose D.  I would like to choose A, but don't seriously think I'll be ready in time.  What would you do?

Later in the spring, on Sunday, June 5, I'll be in Milwaukee for the Miller Arts Ride for the Arts pedaling the 75-mi route. I know I can be ready for that!

If you are in the neighborhood of any of these rides and want to meet up, follow the links above and let me know.  I'd love to ride w/ you.  Or at least watch you ride away from me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Advent of Spring!

Sometime in the middle of night we lost an hour this past Saturday.  If you went to bed at 11pm and got 8 hours of sleep, you woke up at 8am.  I've been mulling this antiquated change over the last couple days and haven't reached a conclusion about it.  One thing's certain, the change in chronography has harkened the start of spring, with the "longer" days and all.

Temperatures have been climbing as well.  After an overnight low of 19, it climbed to 45 this afternoon.  (Tomorrow, it's supposed to hit 50 and by the end of the week it should get up to 60!)  This creates a challenge for bike commuters.  Clothing required for temps in the low 20s are dramatically different from what's needed in the mid 40s.  Today, when I got back to the car, I was sweating pretty heavily, in my Columbia coat and two layers on my legs.

So, it seems clear, this is the advent of spring.  The snow is melting.  They days *are* getting longer.  The air is warming up.  It's a pleasure to ride any time, but the spring time is especially nice.

I am happy to report that last week, I did ride 5 of 7 days (4 of 5 park-n-cycling to work + a ride over the weekend).  And I love how I feel when I finish even the short rides.  The adrenaline... and the endorphines... have kicked in. It feels great.  I'm loving life and #lovingthebike.

And here is the bike I use on the commute.  Meet DB: 
Just added the fenders this week - a good thing, with the melting snow.  Next up a rear rack and panniers, so I don't have to sling a messenger bag over my shoulder. 
Something like these would be perfect - and they're only about 25 bucks!

Are you ready to ride this spring?  If you are, keep the rubber side down!  If not, I encourage you to dig the bike out of the garage and tune it up.  Spring is here!  Happy cycling!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bike Jersey Designs

One thing that bicycling has brought me is connections with other bikers across the country and even overseas, primarily through Twitter.  It started with opening a Twitter account to share my thoughts while on RAGBRAI last summer.  My connections to the "outside world" (or maybe its the insular world) of bicycling culture came when I started being followed by @thebeerrunner, who is from Milwaukee and who also rode RAGBRAI XXXVIII.  (Twitter almost sounds like cyber-stalking, doesn't it?)  Of course, with a handle like that, I had to follow him back.  Through The Beer Runner, I started following @bikerly (Jim), @lovingthebike (Darryl), and @egggman (Mike), as well as the folks at @grouchosports. (More on Groucho in a moment.)

Turns out that Jim, Mike and Darryl have conspired to create #bikeschool - originally conceived as a way to tag life lessons learned while riding a bike.  It evolved into a weekly tweetchat on Thursday evenings. (History here.) 
Through #bikeschool, I've met many more bike enthusiasts.  People from a variety of walks of life who approach riding in an infinite number of ways.  It's been great cyber-meeting some great people.

One day, tweeting with Jim, we were talking about a #bikeschool RAGBRAI team, when I sarcastically said something like "only if there's a jersey in it!"  And an idea was born.  So, I began sketching.  I sent my idea to Jim and he liked it.  Ironically, at the same time the three (Jim, Mike & Darryl) were talking amongst themselves about creating a jersey and/or having a design contest.  In fact, Mike had posted his own draft of a design for the jersey.  Turns out, that they liked my drawing.  I revised my sketch to incorporate some of Mike's ideas and we collaborated to come up with a near final design.  A twitter friend Heather (@shitcyclistsays) suggested adding more green - a great idea that we added.  Nice touch!  Now, it's moving forward with production.

Which is where Groucho Sports comes in.  Groucho is a new sports apparel company in the Twin Cities with a target clientelle of runners, cyclists, and triathletes.  The drawings are currently with the Groucho designer and being prepared for production.  I can't wait to see the sample when it's ready.  Groucho is going to contribute a portion of all sales to non-profits.

Here are the sketches for the #bikeschool jersey:

The other jersey is for a year old biking website,, that Darryl has developed.  We've worked through a few different concepts and this is what we came up with.  It's really cool.
Darryl is working on securing sponsors to be placed on the back pockets.  These sketches have just been sent to Groucho for the designer to work on and prepare a sample before going to production.  Darryl and I are both excited about this design.

The final products will probably be a little different than what's shown above.  But it's still cool to know that my concepts will be made and sold.  Kinda fun to express the creativity.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bike Commute Continues

Not a lot to report on my own riding this past week.  I logged 35 miles during the week, including a 12 mile ride on Sunday.  I have been doing the park and ride during the week.  Generally, I park about 3 miles away from the office and ride my bike in.  It's not of riding, but it works out great.  Even in the current weather (in the 20s on the ride to work).

Sunday was a great ride, despite not having acquired the appropriate footwear (see last week's post).  My rides are slower than last fall (ok, summer), but it'll come. As will lung capacity and leg strength.

So, the long and short of it that I rode 5 of the seven days last week.

One new development in the bike world is #30daysofbiking.  What is 30 Days of Biking?!?  Simply a commitment to ride every day for a month in April. 

The only rule for 30 Days of Biking is that you bike every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—then share your adventures online. We believe biking enriches life, builds community, and preserves the Earth. This is the second year, and third round, of 30 Days of Biking!

So, if you like biking and/or want to take a step to improve your health and happiness, make a commitment to ride every day this April.  Register here.

I'm hoping that part of my 30 days will include a charity ride called Feed the Need to benefit local food pantries in southwestern Wisconsin.  Ride distances include 12-mi; 50K, 75K; 100K; and 150K.  There are also run option, duathlons, and a 50K ride-5K run-50K ride combination.  Wanna join me?  Or want more information?  Click the link above.

I would also like to wrap the month up with riding the Coulee Region Bike Tour in LaCrosse at the end of the month (4/30).  There are 32-mile and 62-mile options. 

Big things in the works for April.  Better get busy in March to get ready!

Oh, and before I go, this is a great time to remind my readers that I am raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation via the RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG.  So far, I am already more than 25% towards my goal.  While I won't be able to ride with the team this year, that doesn't mean the work that LAF does gets time off, too.  If you want to support a great cause, please consider supporting my efforts by making a donation here.  THANKS!