Thursday, October 8, 2015

Seasons on the Moon(lander)

There is an inner struggle that I have lived with through most of my life. The fight between riding and photographing. The fat bike seems to be the instrument that allows them to find common ground. It slows me up, and gives me permission to stop and smell the light.

This has turned into one of my favorite places to photograph, and the Moonlander fat bike seems to fit right in. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Funny how much difference a year makes...

About this time last year I was considering selling my fat bike (don't stone me, fat bike cyclists!). Partly because I was getting back into xc skiing, and partly because I was having problems with the wide Q-factor and my fake hip, especially when it comes to the Moonlander, which sports an EXTRA wide Q-factor.

Funny how much difference a year makes. Not sure why, but I'm not experiencing the same problems on the bike as I did a year ago. It might be partly due to the muscular changes that XC-skiing brought me through, bringing my hip-area muscles back to a better condition. It might also be due to the changes I've made in my positioning on the fat bike. I'm guessing that both have been a factor.

Whatever the case, I'm been more comfortable on the (fat)bike this fall than I have ever been. Experimenting with my positioning has even caused me to reconsider how I'm positioned on the road bike, to the point where I'm starting to believe that there is a chance that next year will be my best season on the road bike than I've had in decades.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Keeping the wheels rolling...

It was nearly 3 years ago, at age 54, that I broke the west to east cycling record across Wisconsin, a record that had been originally set by Fred Boethling​. Fred's record stood for nearly 10 years, until I was able to peel off just a humbling 12 minutes from Fred's record. For me, someone who was never even athletic as a child (or a young adult, for that matter), it was a dream come true. Who would have thought that this lazy, former party-guy would someday find his place in sport and make his mark?

Last year, nearly 2 years later, David Meridith, at age 60, stepped up and slammed my record. David holds other cross-state records, in addition to be an official finisher of Race Across America, so I feel quite fortunate to have even held that record at all with the limited experience I have had in ultra-cycling.

But now there seems to be a new kid on the block, literally. Jessop Keene, an up and coming cyclist of only 27 years old, is planning an attack on the Wisconsin record, to take place on Saturday, August 1st. If youth carries any weight, we might see a new record in the books. If not, he still has a few more decades of training before anyone can say he's too old to be a record holder. And it's just plain neat to see a continuing interest in people making their dreams come true.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Santa Cyclist Rampage

The suit transforms you. Yesterday I participated in one of the most fun rides I've done in a long, long time, the Santa Cycle Rampage. Over the past few years, I've considered it, but I never had a Santa suit (since then I've learned you don't need one, but it does add to the fun!). Fortunately, my friend and co-worker Terri Bartlett, Activity and Life Enrichment Director at Luther Manor, offered and set me up with one last week. I had no more excuses! 

Friday after work, I went on a test ride while wearing the full suit, along with snow-white beard and wig. I quickly learned that the suit transforms you. There is an image that anyone who dons this suit must live up to. My only intention was to test the suit while riding. You know, make sure my pants didn't get caught in the chain, stuff like that. But less than one block down the road it became obvious that I had to communicate my new role with everyone who's path I crossed. I was now a superhero to everyone from the kids coming home in their school buses, to the guys driving huge 18-wheelers and blowing their air-horns, to the angry-looking young man on his cell phone who suddenly looked up and yelled with delight, "Santa!!!". 

The Saturday group ride was an unforgettable experience. I got to ride with some pretty awesome Santas on that ride. But my friend Tom Lais really summed it up well when he said, "We're seeing something special here today. We're bringing joy to so many people. And really, isn't that what's we're all here share the joy?"

And it probably doesn't hurt when the fat man is riding a fat bike. ;)

JS Online Photos

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Return of the Double

I'm not much of a writer. I wish I was. Many times I feel compelled to share my thoughts and emotions, hoping that something might be of interest to someone other than myself. But for me, writing is just hard work, harder than riding my bike 200 miles in one day. Which is what I did yesterday.

The 200-mile, one-day ride, officially known by cyclists as a "double-century", has always been my definition of an ultra-marathon ride, and being able to complete one places you in the category of ultra-marathon cyclist.

Four months after breaking the 300-mile cross-Wisconsin record in 2012, I slipped on a small patch of black ice and broke my hip. Because of God's grace, I have been able to ride again, completing rides as long as 145 miles. But that little "ultra-nerve" just kept aggravating me, as I had hoped to someday place myself in the 200-mile category again. Yesterday, God's grace was present once again. Two years after the same weekend I broke the record, I completed my first post-surgery double-century.

But it wasn't without doubt or question. At one point I came so close to calling it quits. At mile 94 I have a flare-up of an old tendon injury, and my back was hurting. Then it started raining and it looked like thunderstorms were on the way. I told my wife, who was crewing, to meet me in another 10 miles and I'll see how I feel and make the decision. And then I remembered that I was not alone in this adventure, that God was right beside me and in complete control of what would happen on this ride. I could only do so much. I knew I had trained well. I had even received some deep tissue therapy earlier in the week to release some painful muscular trigger points. Worrying about failure wasn't going to help, so I realized I needed to hand this over to God. I began to meditate on a favorite Bible verse that I had posted on Facebook early in the morning before heading out for the ride. I was time for me to turn thought into action, to turn frustration into hope, and to let God take over:

"But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

- Isaiah 40:31

Everything started getting better after that. The skies cleared up. Even my tendon and back pain disappeared. During the last 20 miles or so, I felt like I could do a lot more. It's funny how the body can be trained to the point of feeling stronger at 150 miles than it did at 50. My legs still seem to have that 300-mile memory. Even after I finished, my wife commented how great I looked and still full of energy.

But truthfully, 202 was enough to make me happy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gazelles and the Frozen Custard Demons

I'm been pretty lazy on getting updates in this blog, mostly because I'd rather be outside riding that inside writing. But here I am, and hopefully there are still a few people who care to read about my scattered thoughts.

Over the past few weeks, I've spent more time on my climbing, trying to pay attention and focus what I've doing right and what I'm doing wrong. Even though it's been hurting like crazy, when I can climb well, it makes me feel alive. At my height and weight, I'm certainly not a natural climber. I guess it's similar to when I was a kid and dreamed of being a race horse jockey, knowing that I wasn't small and light enough.

Last year was a time of recovery from my accident in 2012. And although I've come to realize that this year is still a point in that recovery process, I've been allowed, thru the grace of God, into another phase of that recovery. But this phase feels less like recovery and more like what it (riding) should feel like.

Sometimes I like to use visualizations to get me thru the painful parts of a ride. Back in '88 while riding across the harsh open Plains out West on my cross-country ride, to fight the heat of that year's nationwide drought, I imagined I was a white stallion galloping across open, snow-covered lands. It worked. As long as I could maintain that image in my mind, I felt the coolness of that dream.

These days. I find myself imagining that I am a winged gazelle. It all works until I remember the 1/2 gallon of frozen custard I had the night before, and how it haunts me with the searing pain in my legs, and lungs that are ready to burst.

Maybe my next vision should be that I was never a Wisconsinite and have no idea that frozen custard exists! ;)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heading for the road...

Since my last post, over a month ago, the weather has been slowly getting tamer. Although we have experienced one or two good snowfalls, with the temperatures sliding up and some early spring rain, that deep, deep base that was here for most of the winter, has nearly disappeared. Over the past 5 days, I've been on 4 road rides already. I have to say that riding my fat bike in the snow this winter has been a blessing, and something that has helped me from getting cabin fever. I haven't had this much fun in winter since I was cross-country skiing regularly back in the late '80s. But truthfully, I am so done with winter! I can't wait for those warm days of summer, feeling the air rushing across bare legs and arms, as the tires make that sweet hum along the old farm roads of this beautiful state we live in. After a long, cold and snowy winter, road bike season is finally here!