My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Today is World Cancer Day. And the day after I learned my brother Jim was recently diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

Once again I'm registered to ride RAGBRAI (the weeklong bike ride across Iowa) this July with Team LIVESTRONG.  Riding with this group us an amazing experience. I'm honored to be a part of this team.  The LIVESTRONG Foundation provides support for cancer patients and their support team (family, friends, and professional care takers). To do its work, the Foundation relies on the support of donors ... like you. 

In the past, I've ridden RAGBRAI in memory of my sister, Julie, who was taken from us in 1982 when she was only 21. 
This year, I will again be riding in her memory. 

And in honor of my brother Jim. Jim is one of the nicest, most genuine, and incredible people I know. A Renaissance Man. Artist, Artisan. Iron worker, Computer programmer. Thinker, Doer. And, at age 57, cancer fighter.  


At the top of my blog page, there's a LIVESTRONG Foundation logo that is linked to my fundraising page. Please follow that link and donate to the Foundation. In Jim's honor. Or the honor or memory of a loved one. 

As for me, I plan on pedaling 418 miles across Iowa in July. Thinking of Julie. And Jim. Sharing their stories. And raising awareness of all that LIVESTRONG does. And donating as well. Until then, I'll be training. And fundraising.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Out With the Old, In with the New

Until September, it was,I thought, a pretty good year on the bike. I rode a number of events,including RAGBRAI, the UPAF Ride for the Arts, and the Wisconsin Triple Crown series. Since mid-Sept, I haven't been on the bike. (Long story, not for here.) At least until the new year. I've been on the trainer three of the first four days of 2014. And I can feel the layoff in my legs and lungs. 

By far, the most challenging thing I did was the Triple Crown. Ever. The three rides, in Arcadia, Viroqua and Dodgeville were seriously hilly. The first two had some really steep climbs (that I had to walk up!). But I completed the three rides and earned my jersey. I was REALLY looking forward to riding it again in 2014. I wanted to make it up those hills. And ride longer distances. Then, on 12/30, I got an e-mail from the organizers that they are discontinuing the series and not running two of the events (Arcadia Brute and Kickapoo Kicker [Viroqua]). My guess is there is some personal/family issues with the one group of organizers. The Dairyland Dare (Dodgeville) ride is still a go. And I'm going for it!  

Looking ahead to 2014, I am looking at some of the same rides: Minnesota Ironman Ride (late Apr), Ride for the Arts (early June) and Dairyland Dare (mid Aug). The big question mark is RAGBRAI. It's a week long ride in late July. That's a long time to be away from home. And it's right around the time of the audit at work. (Since I'm the business official of a public school district in WI, so it's kind if a big deal.) I'll have to see how things shake out. I do love it. But I hate being gone that long. 

Whether or not I ride RAGBRAI, I plan to still fundraise for the LIVESTRONG Foundation as part of the team. (If you want to get in ahead of the crowd, here's my fundraising page if you want to make a donation:

So, for 2014, I'm going to ride as many events as I can. I hope to ride 3000 miles (including trainer) and be on my bike 250+ days this year. I'm also going to try (again) to be more diligent about updating this blog. Perhaps expand the scope of the blog to beyond just my riding adventures: updates on pro cycling, including women's cycling; commuting information (even though I don't bike commute any more); cycling safety; and other miscellaneous stuff. 

What are your plans for the coming year?

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dairyland Dare

August 10th: The Dairyland Dare - Stage Three of the Wisconsin Triple Crown Series.  For serious riders, the Dare offers options up to 300km (nearly 200 mi).  Riders who are much more serious than I.  Evidence: this was my first ride since RAGBRAI.  So, I opted for the 100K route - or about 65 miles with 5,000' of climbing.
So many choices.
I woke up at 4:30 to get going.  It's an hour drive from home to Dodgeville.  The ride began and ended at the Lands End headquarters in town.  Nice facility.  Registration was well organized. 
If this isn't motivation, I'm not sure what is!
I rolled out with the 7:15 wave.  Riders left Lands End every fifteen minutes.  My plan was to do the 100K ride, finish about noon and head back home.  Ahhh, the best laid plans of mice and men....
Time to ride!
There were about 35-40 riders leaving when I did.  Most of the riders who had committed to the longer routes (200K +) had left in the earlier waves.  Our group was mostly 100 and 150K riders.
The 7:15 wave riding out of Dodgeville
The rider in the picture above #121_ is wearing a RAGBRAI jersey from this year.  He and I talked for a bit.  He was from Iowa City and took up cycling in 2010 because he was having knee issues and couldn't keep up with his running.  He rode the 150K.  I saw him later in the day, when the two routes crossed, riding strong.
The rolling countryside of SW WI.
The first 50K were mostly rolling hills, and lots of them.  The cue sheet listed nine separate hills.  It was, especially compared to the first two stages of the Triple Crown in Arcadia and Viroqua, relatively easy.
Must've been early when this photo was taken.  I still look like I could ride.

And then I had a little issue.  About 3-1/2 miles from the 50K finish (aka my half-way point).  I had passed a water stop by a couple miles when I started experiencing some difficulty shifting.  Then I couldn't shift at all.  So I turned around to head back to the water stop.  I was able to make most of the way back, but did have to walk up one hill.  (Side note, I was disappointed that only two riders had even asked if I was ok.  Most just rode past.)  There was a support truck there to call in for a SAG ride.  Within a couple minutes one was driving by as he got the call to pick me up.
Umm, I don't think this is right.  Anyone got duct tape or some super glue?  Busted shifter cable.
The SAG drove me about 10 miles to the next rest stop in Governor Dodge State Park, where there were two mechanics ready to help.  They had shifter cables and repaired my broken steed.  (I forgot the guy's name who worked on my bike for me.)  I was good to go again.

The ride into the Park was beautiful, but there was a steep hill about just before the rest stop.  I decided to make up most of the mileage I lost by getting SAG'd by riding the loop through the park, about 6 miles, from the rest stop to the entrance/exit and back to the rest stop.  In addition the two miles riding back to the water stop with the broken cable, I covered about 8 of those 10 miles.
The descent into Governor Dodge State Park.  The lake in ahead on the left.
Now, on to the second 50K.  There were five hills listed in the next section of the ride.  But they were much larger and more daunting than the rollers of the first half of the day.
A long descent. My kind of road!
After rolling out of Governor Dodge State Park, there was about six miles of relative flat riding until we hit the big hills.  First was a 400' descent, and then a climb back out of the valley.  Up 200' then a slight drop and then more climbing.  This part of the ride was turning out to be brutal.
Suffering up the Dyerson Rd hill. Not pretty ... in so many ways.
Especially for a guy carrying more than a few extra pounds.  They come in handy when going down hill, but it's like dragging an anchor going up. I am a SLOW climber.  I've since heard that each pound a rider is overweight cost him/her 15 seconds for every mile of climbing. If that's true, I lose about 5 minutes each mile going up. 

More of SW WI hills.  A little more severe in this part of the county.
The route was well supported, not only with the SAG support, but also with full stocked rest stops with mechanics, and also water/snack stops.  The route was well marked and the volunteers and staff were awesome!
Last stop, for us on the 100K route.  13 miles to beer!
After the last stop, there was one more hill (technically it was two) before the finish.  Not as severe or as long as the others.  But after fighting the others, it was no less challenging on my tired legs.  So I did what my jersey said - I fought head down.  (Jersey was our LIVESTRONG team jersey for RAGBRAI.)
Last hill of the day.  I can do this.  I will do this.  I did it!
Finally, after over six hours, I rolled back into the Lands End complex and finished the Dairyland Dare and the Wisconsin Triple Crown.
And the reward!  A cold pint of Capital brew.  
A tasty reward to rehydrate with.
While I was enjoying my beer, someone called my name and was walking towards me. It turned out to be a teammate from 2011 Team LIVESTRONG, Amy.  We had talked about connecting at each of the stages of the Triple Crown, but never connected.  So, at the end of the last day, it was a little ironic that we actually were able to reconnect. 
Riders who complete the Triple Crown receive a personalized jersey commemorating all three stages on the back pocket.  You can select what you want it to say.  Mine will be "CRAWL UP - FLY DOWN" in honor of my great skills on the hills.

My Strava data from the ride. 
You'll note that straight line from mi 30 to just past 36. That's where I paused as I was getting SAG'd to the mechanic. I rode an extra loop thru Governor Didge State Park, which was gorgeous!) to make up for some of the list mileage. Still ride more than 100K (thanks to the loop).

Monday, July 29, 2013


The. Last. Day.
Sorry, not a lot of pictures on the way to Ft Madison.
Day 7 2013
The Mason House Inn B&B in Bonaparte.  This little community has maybe a half0dozen buildings.  Everyone was in period costume (1880s) and they were very welcoming.  They even let us use the indoor bathroom (and not porta potties)! 

Norm and Libby chatting at the meet up point a mile from the end of the ride.  We gathered here for a group ride to our final destination.

Last pic with John, Mary Lee and Tim.

Riding in a two-by-two formation the last mile.  Survivors in the front.  A moving spectacle.  I always think of Julie during this part of the ride.

And those in formation behind me.  That's Barb on the left and Meg on the right.

The final yards.  (Photo from Tim's daughter.)

It's official!  Another RAGBRAI completed.  Front tire in the Mississippi.

In Memory of Julie.


Day 6 2013
Rolling into Fremont

Bike parking in rural  Iowa - attach a cable to tractor and wrap your handlebars over it.

Source of two blow-outs in 3 miles.  This year, the Iowa roads chewed up my rear tire.

Mike (left) and Bill (right) escorted me to the next town where I got a new tire. Great teammates!

Congressman Braley (D-IA, 1st) took time from his ride to speak with Team LIVESTRONG in Hedrick about his experiences with cancer.

Last Day for Mr. Pork Chop.  Still delicious!

RAGBRAI - a family affair.  (Love the jersey!)

A lot of numbers for a small town!

Main St Packwood.  (All the action was out on the highway.)

Our destination for the day, Fairfield.  Home of the Maharishi University.

Camp Fairfield HS

The RV was plastered with these "I appreciate" cards from the LIVESTRONG Foundation staff in Austin for the team riders.


The concert that night was an 80s cover band called The Spazmatics. Clearly, they aren't too concerned about preserving the stage as their space.  VERY fun evening!


Day 5 2013

Today I was riding for my Dad and brother Chuck, both of whom have survived prostate cancer.  And thinking of my brother Jim, who has a history of high PSA counts, but hasn't had any issues.  Keep getting checked, bro!  (Also, this Loving the Bike jersey (and shorts) were designed by yours truly.)
No, Iowa is not flat.
Memorial to the fallen in Pella, IA.

Pella is a Dutch community with, of course, a tulip festival each year.  This windmill is new (circa 2002), but based on a 1850 design and built using traditional methods.  A beautiful building, inside and out.


Lunch in the Bussey fire house.  Proceeds will go to help the FD purchase a jaws of life, a common tool for urban departments, but an expensive "luxury" for rural departments.  They were doing a steady business.

A drink at Wilson's after lunch with Tim, John and Mary Lee. Great time.  We headed over to the picnic tables and met up with Jim & Linda and Chris.  We rode together, for the most part, the rest of the day.  We arrived in Beacon and connected with even more teammates at the beer garden, where we enjoyed a couple more beers before heading to camp.