My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Time is Bike Time!

The last time I posted, it was to wrap up #30DaysOfBiking with snapshot capsules of each day.  That was April.

Now it's mid-May.  May is Bike Month.  May 14-18 is Bike to Work Week.  May 18 is Bike to Work Day.  7:46 a.m. is Bike to Work Minute.

Nearly all my rides this month have been #bikecommute rides on most workdays.  And what a great way to get to/from work. It doesn't take much more time, it saves gas, it adds joy. And I feel good.

12 of 13 days so far this month, I've left the car in the garage and have ridden the 10.5 miles to work.  That's 283 miles from home to work (including rides home the west way and riding to vote earlier this month).

Plus a 45 mi road ride.  It was a great ride going 20 miles east on Highway 19 to Marshall and then back home, via the east/north side of Madison.  Not a lot of hills, but it was a bit breezy.

Unfortunately, that's been my only road ride of the month so far.  But that's ok.  The ride time will come.  Some times there are more important things to do.  Like Mother's Day.  :^)  And spending the day at dance recitals and/or competitions. 

My next organized ride is Sunday, June 3, in Milwaukee at the UPAF Ride for the Arts.  I'm registered for the 75-mile route.  This'll be the third year I've ridden this ride, so I'm familiar with the route (pretty flat). But it's my first doing the 75. 

So, to get ready, I'll ride on Sunday, then again next weekend.  And I'll keep doing the bike commuting.

What about you?  Are you riding?  For transport? For sport? For fun? For exercise?  Tell me about your Bike Month.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

#30DaysOfBiking final

April is over, and with it, this round of 30 Days of Biking.  I left off last time with Day 16 of the challenge.  Here's what I was up to for the last two weeks. 

Day 17:

A couple other commuters on the bike path in Madison. (And fun w/ InstaGram)

Day 18: Faster than a speeding train:
Follow this link to a brief video.  Ok, not speeding, but I did pass it on the isthmus that day.  :^)

Day 19: Late. Wet. Cold. But I rode.
A brief one mile ride in the rain at the end of the day.  I reached behind me and took a shot of the tail light on my saddle bag.
Day 20: The Bridges of Madison City are rivetting!
An old railroad bridge over the Yahara River now converted for bike / pedestrian use.
Day 21: Chasing My Shadow
At the end of a long road ride, I snapped this pic.  I previously blogged the details about the day here.
Day 22: Twilight Ride
Again, a short ride before the day ended.  This one offered a beautiful view of Venus and a crescent moon.
Day 23: The view outside my office
When I get work, I get to look at the most beautiful state capital building in the country.
Day 24: Bike Commute: Not just for home to office and back
I had a meeting to end my day out by East Towne - about 7 miles from the office.  So, not only did I ride to work, but I rode from the office to the meeting and then from the meeting home.  This is me pedaling out E Washington on my way to the meeting.
Day 25: Bike Commute: Not just for sunny days
Drizzle and light showers marked my ride this day.  But, with the right gear, it's not a problem.
Day 26: Not my pic
I'm not the only one enjoying two wheels.  This pic is courtesy of my sister who now lives in Florida.  That morning, she and Nick rode to the beach to watch the sunrise while enjoying some coffee. *Jealous*
Day 27: RELAYS!
It's Drake Relays weekend in Des Moines, IA.  In honor of my alma mater, and the friends I miss who were gathered to eat, drink, and enjoy America's Classic, I wore my Drake jersey.  Wish I was there.
Day 28: Feed The Need
This pretty much summed up the day's weather. To read about the ride and see some pics, go here, to a blog post I wrote earlier this week.
Day 29: Another late night spin in the rain
I don't know why this won't rotate - even after resaving the original post-rotation. C'est la vie.  Anyway, it was 10:30, it was 43°F, and it was raining.  But I needed that ride.  Wasn't the greatest day.  And, yes, this was the highlight of the day! :^)
Day 30: CHECK!
I completed the challenge! I rode a bike every day this month.  Even if only for a spin around the block.  I was in the saddle and on the road.
Oh, and cool little side note, for me anyway... I was part of Team and Darryl had a contest on who could earn the most points in the month. The results are in, and I came in second with 108 points (#WW, r.i.p.).  And, thanks to the fine folks at Clif Bar and Sufferfest, I have a prize package on my way.  Congrats to Julie for winning the contest! 

Next up, Bike Month (May)!

Ride On! And Keep the Rubber Side Down!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Follow the Red Arrows

This past Saturday, I loaded my bike into my Honda Civic (put the back seat down, and take the front wheel off the bike and it fits no problem!) and headed to Highland, a small town west of Dodgeville, WI.  The local cycling club there has been organizing a ride to benefit the local food pantry.  It's an incredible effort - they have six different routes (14 mi, two 50K (~31 mi), a 75K, a 100K, and a 150K). Pretty ambitious, but well organized.  The routes overlap with rest stops serving multiple routes at the same time.

As you know, if you read my previous post (or follow me on Twitter), I was planning to go big - the 150K route, which was actually closer to 100 than 93 miles, with 10,000 feet of climbing.  That's almost two miles of vertical.  To put it in perspective, Denver is "The Mile High City." In other words, this route had A LOT of hills. No big hills, but there are fourteen "Cat-5s" - big enough to challenge you, but small enough to get over them with several minutes of effort.

The week before I rode an 80-mi training ride with over 2600 feet of climbing. One of the hills I rode last week was bigger than any hills on this ride.  I thought I was ready.  And I was pumped to conquer this challenge.

I woke up at 5:00 and took the dogs on a short walk, made breakfast (eggs and bacon - protein) and pulled everything together. I packed food (peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, oranges, Clif Bars, and energy bloks) and took off.  It was in the upper 30s with a forecast high of 43 for the day.  And it was overcast, with intermittent rain predicted.  Yay! Cold and rainy. (*end sarcasm*)

But I was prepared. I had rain gear over thermal gear. I wasn't going to let the weather stop me.

I arrived at 7:40, got checked in, then rolled out just after eight.  "Follow the red route. There are arrows on road at the stop signs."  Simple instructions, right?

As I headed out of town, I arrived at the first stop sign, I looked down and saw four arrows: green, white, yellow, and pink.  Ok, I thought, they must've used pink for red because of visibility.  So I turned right and followed the pink arrows.  For 6+ miles.  Until they met up with another set of arrows ... including a red arrow.

FUCK! I went the wrong way! Mistake #2.

#2?  Yeah.  The first was not remembering to bring a printed map with me so I'd know where the hell I was.  My iPhone was nearly worthless as a GPS as there was little or no signal on most of the course.  And where there was, it wasn't 4G, it was only cell reception.

So I turned back. And rode all the way back to town. Back to the first intersection.  Where I saw six arrows - the four pointing to the right I saw before.  And two pointing left.  A blue one.  And a red one.  Ok.  75 minutes later and I was on my way.

This was a small ride (I heard that under 50 people registered, compared to the 7500 that will be in Milwaukee in four weeks).  And the handful that opted for the 150K route were looooong gone.  So I pedaled on.  Looking closely for red arrows.  There were a couple of times that I was worried that I had made a wrong turn.  But then I'd see another red arrow.  Pedal on.

The scenery was beautiful. Amazing views.  The rolling hills and valleys of SW WI are gorgeous.  I stopped occasionally, grabbing a bite to eat, looking around, snapping a pic. (Pics below)

Then the route turned right.  Onto Shop Hill Rd.  68' of climbing in a half-mile.  Doesn't sound like much.  But that is a seven story building.  There was no run up to it.  No momentum to carry you.  Not that it would have helped much.  It was like a wall.  I got up about a third of it.  One-third.  Then I walked.

As the hill flattened out, I climbed back on. And pedaled my way to the top.  Even then I was gassed.  I paused and a van pulled up.  It was a support vehicle for the ride.  They were surprised to find a rider that far back on the route.  Yeah, that 75 minute "delay" was a problem.  So they had me load my bike and me into the van.  Ahh, the "broom wagon" sweeping me up.

I was driven 18 miles to the next rest stop.  There was another rider doing the 150 there taking a short break.  The wind was picking up too.  The other rider and I saddled up and headed out.  Looking at the other rider, I arrogantly thought "Is he going to be able to keep up with me?"  He looked about 5-10 years older than me, was 6" shorter then me, but looked to weigh about the same. 

Within four miles, he dropped me. Like a lead balloon.  I couldn't hold his wheel even with a tail wind.  This. Was. Not. A good day.

I pushed on.  Slowly.  My legs ached.  The voice in my head said it I couldn't do it.  I tried to tell my legs to shut up and the voices that they were wrong.  Finally, I made it to the next stop.  It was about 15 miles from where I re-started riding.  And this was the "flat" section.  And I had a tail wind for most of the way.

I was done.  I was the last rider on the course.  And it was just going to get worse.  I asked the volunteer at the stop to call for a ride back to the starting point.  It was only 5 miles, from Montfort back to Highland.  But it was hilly.  I didn't have any more in me.  So I quit.  After 51 miles.

Not a bad day's ride.  51 miles with 2000+ feet of climbing.  A good ride.  But not the ride I planned for.  (Not that I anywhere near prepared for the ride that I planned for!) 

I was (and am still) disappointed with my performance.  My average speed was under 13.  I didn't climb well.  I made mistakes.  I expended emotional energy on chasing back from a wrong turn.  I was cold.  And I was hot.  And I was tired of fighting the wind.

In retrospect, there are some things I would have done differently - no, will do differently next year.
  • Add hill repeat training;
  • Do more than two 30+ training rides prior to the event;
  • Drink more water (I barely drank one bottle in nearly four hours of riding);
  • Eat more (I had one banana, one orange, and half a Clif bar while riding);
  • Know where I'm going (or have a map);
  • Select the appropriate route - I should have done the 100K (~62 miles) route.
So, there you have it.  A beautiful, nasty, challenging, ass-kicking (mine), and humbling day.  I'm glad I did it.  Most importantly, it was for a great cause.  And I will be back in 2013.

The Pics: