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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Prescription Cycling Sunglasses

My friend Darryl over at Loving the asked me to write a product review for prescription cycling sunglasses made by ADS Sports Eyewear.  I jumped at the chance.  You can check out my review over on the Loving the Bike website.  Thanks for the opportunity, Darryl and Michael!

Enjoying my ride with clear vision and stylish shades.

UPAF Ride for the Arts

No photos today, sorry....

I rode the same route for this year's UPAF Ride for the Arts as last year.  And, I suspect, I will in future years as well.  That is, I did the "75-mi" route (actually about 71.5) up to Port Washington and back.

The highlight of the ride is going over the Hoan Bridge (I-794), which the WI DOT and Milwaukee County agreed to close for the morning of the ride. This was the third year riders could traverse the span over the Milwaukee River at Lake Michigan. Prior to that, cyclists were not permitted on the bridge (and aren't during normal operations as it is a part of the interstate highway system) because of concerns about wind gusts and rider safety.

The route runs thought the northern burbs on Milwaukee (Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside, Mequon) and goes to Port Washington. The local law enforcement agencies and countless volunteers do a great job keeping riders safe and traffic on the open roads moving. 

The route is pretty flat, especially compared to the ride I did in Arcardia two weeks prior. Strava says I did 1240' of climbing (compared to the 5302' in Arcadia).

This year's ride was significantly slower than last year. I averaged 16.5 mph for the 71.5 miles. Last year, I was booking at 18.6 mph. It took me about 35 minutes longer this year to cover the same route. I think that reflects how much bikecommuting into Madison helped my overall fitness and strength last year. This year, working 40 miles from home, I have to try and ride at dawn (or before) and I don't get out every day. *sigh*

Anyway, it is a GREAT ride.  There were about 7500 people participating total, riding the 5, 12, 25, 50, or 75 mile courses. Lots of families doing the shorter rides. And it's for a great cause, supporting the United Performaing Arts Fund, which supports a variety of organizations in MKE, including the Milwaukee Ballet, MSO and MYSO, The Rep, Milwaukee Children's Choir, and multiple theater groups. 

Sorry for not having more details and photos. I was just chugging along for the most part. But if you read last year's report, you can get a better feel of the event.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Arcadia Brute

The Arcadia Brute.  Over 100 km of hills.  And more hills. And for masochists out there, there were options to ride 150km (over 90 mi) or 200 km!  But this was more than enough for me.  I haven't had the opportunity to train the I wanted to. 

And to be perfectly honest, I was a bit nervous about having the legs to do that much climbing.  I wasn't worried about the distance - I had done a couple of 50+ mile rides before this event.  But I hadn't done anywhere near this much climbing in one ride.  The most I had in me was a couple of 2200-2400' of climbing.  Well short of the advertised 6500'. (Note: I haven't seen two sources of data have the same amount of climbing.  Even though they all use GPS data.  See my Strava report linked below - it says I did 5300' of climbing, not 6500'.)

So, on the morning of the ride, Saturday, May 18th, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. at home (just north of Madison) and got ready and then drove more than 2-1/2 hours to Arcadia (30 min north of Lacrosse), arriving at about 7:30.  Time to check in and finish getting ready.
I think I'm on the right road.  It turns out the red car was my daughter's 4th grade science teacher!  We chatted in the parking lot when we arrived.  (Yes, I followed them into town.)
My goal for the day was to ride the 65 miles in about 5 hours of riding (not including rest time at the stops), 5-1/2 total time.  I rolled out at 8:00.  Riders were sent off from the start line every 5-10 minutes starting at 7:00 (or was it 6:30?).  When I left it was a small group that gathered to start their rides.  All distances started together.

Let's roll!
It was clear pretty quick that this would be a challenging ride.
Early miles outside Arcadia
Just 2-1/2 miles into the ride, we started our first climb - about 500' over 1.75 miles.  It was a steady climb.  The kind that this old man prefers (relative to the sharp, steep climbs).  After a nice downhill (crawl up, fly down!), we hit the second hill just after the 11-mile mark.  This was another steady climb... until....  Until the last 1/2 mile.  We made a sharp right hand turn and immediately went vertical.  I stopped, but was able to continue up.

Once at the top, I was greeted with the following scene:

Clearly, something was wrong.  When I caught up to the stopped riders, I learned that someone had crashed on the descent down from this hill.  Some riders had been there for a half-hour or longer.  I was there for about 25 minutes.

MedFlight coming to medevac one of the riders.  I learned later that he was ok, but was going to be kept overnight for observation.

There were three injured riders, from two separate incidents.  One rider was MedFlighted out after hitting a sink hole in the road.  Not a pothole.  A sink hole.  The other two were riding together and hit a second sink hole not far from the first.  One had a bad road rash, the other broke a bone.  I'm spo glad to hear that they are (relatively) ok.

Once the MedFlight and two ambulances cleared out, we proceeded on the route.  We went down the hill very cautiously.  Ride volunteers were marking the area and warning riders.  It would have been easy to hit (and crash on) one of the two holes.  The hole in the pavement was small (size of a softball and a baseball), and if you're flying down the hill, you'd be on top of it before you could react.
The descent where the riders crashed and were injured.
I blew past the first rest stop at the 17-mi mark, having just spent some time on the side of the road as the first responders did their job.  This was the point where the riders doing the 50K route would break off from the route and start heading back to town.  I was feeling good after two tough climbs.  And felt good about taking on five more (plus a couple smaller ones).  Besides, I didn't drive 2-1/2 hours one-way to only ride 2 hours total!
Of course, I think I regretted that (not really) on the next climb.  I actually stopped and walked a bit.  And I "slalomed" up (weaving back and forth across the road - which actually worked!).  Hill three was brutal, and the steepest of the hills.
Over the next few hours, I met and rode with a few different people as we climbed and descended.  It was great working with other and chatting with them.  I rode with an older gentleman from Minnesota, doing 150K with his son; a woman from the Milwaukee area; a guy from the Chicago area here with a friend and his wife; and a couple other guys from Wisconsin.  (And, no, I don't remember their names.)
Working on conquering the most brutal ride I've done.

The next stop was in Fountain City, a river town on the banks of the Mississippi.  We descended from the bluffs to the highway just south of town.  The rest area was at a park along.  Of course, when you go down, you have to go back up.  In the downtown area, we turned right to climb back out of town.  I noticed as we rode up the hill that Fountain City reminded me a lot of some parts of my hometown, another city on the Muddy Miss.
When we cleared this climb, we had five big (aka "category") climbs, and over 35 miles, behind us.  There were two more big climbs, plus two more that would test the riders.  At least they did me.  My legs were weak.  I could have ridden up these final hills if my legs were fresh.  But after 50 miles of this madness, I couldn't hammer it out.  On the last climb, I stopped twice on the way up.  Just for a minute or so each time, but I had to stop nonetheless.
It was a tough ride.  The toughest I've ever done.  But, I finished.  I completed the Arcadia Brute. And I can't wait to go back!
So, here's my ride stats from Strava.  You can see how I did on each of the climbs here.
And here is the official timing from the race organizers.  I finished 165th of 256 on the 100K course.  No idea how many ahead or behind me were also caught behind the ambulance.  But scroll to the bottom.  Look for Robert Tschabrun.  Humbling and inspiring. 71 years old and his start-to-finish time was 4:33:50.  Blew my ass out of the water!  Well done, Robert!

More photos from the ride.  GORGEOUS scenery.  Look forward to returning next year!

Along the Mississippi River at Fountain City.  Hello, Minnesota.