My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Monday, April 23, 2012

Postcards From My Ride

On Saturday, 4/28, I'm scheduled to do the "Feed the Need Ride" in Highland to benefit the local food bank there. It's a small ride (they only expect about 70 riders), but with lots of options for distance.

I have been trying to decide if I was up for their longest ride - 150K (~100 mi). But it comes with 10,000 feet of climbing! The longest ride I've had this year is the 42 mi ride (mostly flat) the day I crashed. A long ways from 100 miles. And only a fraction of the climbing.

So I mapped out a route (thanks in part to Twitter pal @kmoorejr) to Blue Mounds and back to ride this past Saturday. It would be just under 80 miles, with over 2600 feet of climbing.

The Day's Route
The Day's Profile
It was a beautiful day for riding, just a little chilly (high of 53F), but sunny and calm. I left home at 11:30 to begin my day in the saddle.

I hadn't gone too far, about 5 miles, when I crested a hill at a farm called "Angel View Acres" outside Waunakee. They have a beautiful view of Madison from there and you can clearly view the capital dome standing out in the skyline.

Looking south from Angel View Acres.  You can see the dome of the state capital building about 12 mi away if you zoom in (one fence post to the left of the flagpole). 
Looking back down from Angel View Acres
I continued west, taking myself up two climbs (158' in 1.2 mi and 195' in 1.6 mi) on Enchanted Valley Rd that Map My Ride classifies as "Cat 5s" (category five - difficult enough to be labeled, but the "easiest" of those that ate categorized).

At the top of the second climb, I turned left onto West High Point Road and continued upward. As the road turned, there was a magnificent view of the farms and the edge of Cross Plains below.  
Now the road name (High Point) makes sense!
I cruised down the hill and contined into the village where I took my first rest stop. I popped into the Kwik Trip for a yogurt parfait and a Gatorade for lunch. Then I was off again.

Next up, a climb up County P, another Cat5 climb (150' in 1.0 mi) and then a left turn on West Mineral Point Rd. in some ways, this road was tougher than the Cty P. It had a series of rolling hills with steep climbs and rapid descents. Before a final downhill, there was this view looking southwest. Beautiful, isn't it? 
Looking SW from West Mineral Point Road.  That's where I'm heading.
I continued on, pedaling closer to County Hwy F, the big climb of the day (587' over 3.7 mi), taking Hwy 78, the Greenwald Rd, and Cty J. The views on Greenwald and J were incredible. Picturesque farms with green fields surrounded by rolling hills and old woods. This was turning out to be a spectacular ride! I am incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy this.

When I reached Cty F, I turned to the south to ride to Blue Mounds. I began to gradually climb. Not steep, but steady. This was it. The Cat3 hill that was on the proposed Olympic course if Chicago had won the bid. I paused briefly at St James Catholic Cemetery. They may rest in peace, but I had mules to go before I could rest.   
May they rest in peace.
Finally, I summitted the hill, after miles of climbing feet. It took me minutes from the time I turned on Cty F until I reached the top. The view was grandiose. This is looking NNE from the top of the hill. 
From on top of County Hwy F outside of Blue Mounds
I turned left on Cave of the Mounds Rd and rode past this visitors attraction. It's a fascinating cave if you're ever in the area. Worth visiting. But I've been there before, so I pedaled on, left on Cty ID and into Mt Horeb.

On ID, I was joined by another rider, a guy from the Twin Cities who was down for a seminar. He had been out riding and was looking for Cty F. He had heard about it, our Alp d' Huez he called it, and wanted to climb it. I told him he just missed it, gave him directions and he said he'd ride it tomorrow. He's going to come back with some buddies for a weekend to climb that hill and do a long road ride. They just don't have hills like that up there he said. I guess he can thank the last ice age for that.

I made my second stop in Mt Horeb. At the Grumpy Troll brewpub. A pint of Maibock to wash down a Clif Bar was a perfect mid-afternoon snack.
An excellent location for a pit stop! A great brew awaits no matter what your taste.  At least 10 beers that they brew on tap.
Time to turn for home. Only one big climb left, another ascent up Enchanted Valley Rd on my way. But first some nice descents, first down Cty S (at 32+ mph) heading northeast out of Mt Horeb. Then going down the Cty P hill (at 38 mph) I climbed earlier heading back into Cross Plains. .

Taking Cty P north thru Cross Plaines, I turned right on Enchanted Valley. In the first part of the climb I noticed this odd formation of roots and ground. The hill is eroding away exposing the roots of the old trees above.  
I finished off my ride, dragging myself across the flats of Schneider Rd, the Hwy 12 bike path, Cty K, then Woodland Dr back to Waunakee. I was tired. My legs spent. If this is how I felt after 80 miles/2600 feet of climbing, there's no way I could do 100 miles/10k in my current shape. I'm just not ready for that.

The next day, I was exhausted. I even napped for a bit after lunch (and I rarely nap).

That evening, I started thinking more about the ride coming up next weekend. The rational side of me says that it can't (or shouldn't) be done. At least not the big ride. Take the the shorter route w/ less (but still a lot of) climbing. But I'm thinking I'm gonna do it. To get faster, stronger, better, you need to challenge yourself. To push past your (imagined) limits.

So... next week, a ride recap from the Feed the Need Ride. Let me know if you want to join me for the ride!
Chasing my shadow the last mile home.


  1. Looks like a great ride. I know you can do it this weekend. Loved the pictures of your ride.

    1. Thanks, Julie! Glad you liked the pictures. That part of Dane Co (W and SW of Madison) is beautiful.

      I;m looking forward to the challenge this weekend. I'll write a post-ride report and post it next week. (If I survive, that is. Haha)

  2. The Grumpy Troll is always a great place to recharge with a beer and break up a long ride - looks like you had a fun ride!

    1. Thanks for reading, Alyson! It was a great ride. And you're right. The Grumpy Troll is a great place to recharge - whether you're riding or not.