My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Bike Commute

Some people think I'm crazy. It's the middle of winter. In Wisconsin. And I'm on my bike. Riding almost 11 miles each way to/from work.

Yeah, maybe I am.

Snow fall and I'm riding, at least part of the way.  10°F and I'm riding. (For the record, I think that's about my bottom limit, at least with the gear I have.  My feet were cold that morning!)

And I arrive at work or home, my back drenched in sweat, feeling awesome. (Thankfully, we have a locker room at the office w/ showers!)

Tonight, as I start this post, it's snowing out. Big, wet flakes. It's quite beautiful. Clinging to the trees. I think there's about 1-1/2 inches in the ground already. I don't know how much more will fall.
Fresh Snow Fall in the Morning!
But I know I'm looking forward to my ride to work tomorrow.

I'll decide in the morning if I'll ride the whole way. Or if I'll load DB (an older hybrid bike with wider tires) on the rack and drive into town before riding 4.5 miles to the office. The main issue is the 1.5 miles of highway between Waunakee and Madison. So, we'll see if it's still snowing in the morning. And if the plows have been out.

I'll finish the post tomorrow. And maybe include a pic or two of my bike commute.

The Next Morning: Madison ended up with about 4" of heavy wet snow.  A little less in Waunakee.  Despite that, the highway between the suburb and the big city was not especially safe to ride on.  So, I did end up driving into Madison and parked at a strip mall just over half-way to the office.  I call this type of commute a "Park-N-Bike"  I rode DB about 4-1/2 miles from there.
Riding thru Tenney Park in Madison
Hey! I'm not the only nut job riding in this!
The Trusty Steed (DB).
Oh, and for the record, I'm not completely nuts. Of the first 8 weeks of the year (40 weekdays), this is only my 17th trip by bike. (Missed days due to holidays, a conference, meetings or appointments out of the office. There was one day I didn't ride because of the weather. Ok, I am a little nuts.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Viva Gets a New Bike!

We've been talking about getting our 10 y.o. a new bike for some time. Her current bike is a 20" single speed that was too small for her. It's the steed that she first learned to ride.

Originally, my thought was to get her a kids' road bike. The problem is that they don't make them! Ok, I did find one at the LBS (local bike shop), but there aren't many of them. My wife Carol and I discussed it. And debated. And discussed some more.

This past weekend, Olivia and I headed over to the Trek Store Madison to see what they had. There we saw a couple bikes that looked interesting, but nothing that really grabbed her attention. Our sales person, Leah, then offered to get another bike that was just built up the day before.

Olivia test rode the one from the back as well as one on the showroom floor. After the test ride, she was real excited about the bike that Leah pulled from the back room. I placed a deposit and we left.

That night, Olivia talked excitedly about the bike and asked if we could go back and buy it. The four of us (Olivia, Carol, her sister Whitney and I) actually did run back into Madison for something else and swung by the store. Closed. She was disappointed.

Sunday morning, Olivia asked again. But Carol had to go into the office. We talked about it and made the decision to go ahead and do it when she came home. When Carol got home, we piled into the car and headed back to Madison. And bought the bike.
(I know, she's not wearing a helmet. This is in the Trek lot, riding it from the door to the car.)
We headed home and, surprise, surprise, Olivia wanted to go for a ride. So, off she and I went for a quick spin (about 2 miles).  It was a little cold, but she didn't care. She loves her new ride!  She's getting used to shifting the gears as well handbrakes.
See? A helmet! She knows that she MUST wear it whenever/wherever she rides.
And while it's not a road bike (my prejudice), she is very happy with her MT220.  We're already planning for a ride this weekend (if the weather cooperates - it is February in Wisconsin, after all!).  And she's talking about what accessories she wants/needs: lights, a lock, cycling clothes (a Loving The Bike kit, perhaps?!?), gloves, etc.

I may have created a monster! But that's quite alright!

Monday, February 13, 2012

RAGBRAI 2012 - It's ON!

I am now signed up for this year's ride across Iowa and will again be joining Team LIVESTRONG, fundraising for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).

I'm really looking forward to being able to ride the full week again this year, having only ridden two days last year. RAGBRAI is a fun and challenging way to push myself to be healthier and stronger than I have ever been. (For example, my Cycling For Life post documents the improvements in my health since I started riding in 2010.)

The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is a week-long adventure. This year, the 40th edition, is scheduled for 477 miles from Sioux Center in the NW corner of the state to Clinton on the Mississippi. The week looks to be challenging with three long days (75+ miles each) sandwiched between two shorter days to start and to end the week. And then, there's the Karras Loop, an optional loop of additional miles to bring one of the days up to about 100 miles. The reward for completing the Loop is ... a patch. But well worth it!

But really, it isn't as daunting as it sounds. The key, I think, it not think of it as a 60, 70 or 80 mile day, but rather 10 or 15 miles to the next town. And the next town always has at least two things: PIE! and BEER! And while the beer is not always the best, the pie always is!

This year, there is a new event to coincide with RAGBRAI. There is a Gran Fondo ride from Sioux City to Sioux Center the day before. The feature ride is a 100 mile timed ride. This would be a fantastic way to kick off the week. (And will likely result in the first day or two of RAGBRAI being ridden at a more leisurely pace.)

If you are interested in RAGBRAI, I encourage you to check it out. The website is Info about the Iowa Gran Fondo can be found at

Fundrsaising for the
And, as in the past, I am using this opportunity to fund raise for the LAF. In the last two years, thanks to the generous support of my family, friends, colleagues, and readers, I've raised over $7500. These funds are used to support programs and services dedicated to serving cancer patients and their loved ones as they fight like hell against this scourge.

As you likely know, the reason that supporting efforts to fight cancer and support patients fighting cancer is important to me is that my sister died at age 21 of cancer. Hard to believe but it will be 30 years ago this summer - not long after I finish this year's ride.

The reason I chose LAF was easy - it was an obvious connection between cycling and fighting cancer. Only after I signed up in 2010 for the ride did I learn that there was a team of riders from across the country doing the same thing.

I'm proud to be associated with LAF and be a member of Team LIVESTRONG. After camping with the team for the days I did ride last year, I know that the work LAF does is helping people. And that's what it's all about. (You can read more about my experiences with the team last year in this post, scroll down to the "Camp Life" section.)

If you want to support my fundraising efforts and support the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, you can make a donation on my fundraising page, here. Thanks!