Sunday, October 30, 2011

Race the Lake - 2011

For the past two years, I've participated in "Race the Lake", a 90-mile bicycle race around Lake Winnebago. My first goal in a race is always to finish without crashing. My second goal is to better my time from previous years.

Nearly 1,500 people were in the 2011 event. I finished #312 out of 1,213 in the men's division. And #42 out of 195 in my age group, 50-54. Although my finishing time wasn't as good as I had hoped for, I was still able to shave a good 10 minutes off last year, even though the wind conditions were more difficult this year than last. But with the many crashes that happen each year, I'm just happy to finish without loosing any skin. The picture shown here was taken just after having some fun with a few other guys in a final sprint across the finish line. Yeah, I'm as tired as I look.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dances with Buck

It's not everday you find yourself in the middle of a sprint with a six-point buck. I guess today was to be the exception.

This afternoon I was rolling along on the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, a route I often take to warm up or cool down after spending the day on the backroads of Wisconsin. Sometimes, if I feel a little playful, I'll use the one-mile stretches between crossings for short interval work. But today I was feeling a bit more than playful, and so found myself beginning the start of a sprint I will never forget. I remember my speed was somewhere in the high 20s when my eyes suddenly met the eyes of a large buck standing right beside the trail's edge. At the moment I noticed him, he was probably 12 feet or so ahead of me.

As I was out of the saddle in the middle of the sprint, I really had no choice but to charge on through. My adrenaline was hitting an all-time high, and I knew at that moment that I might be this big boy's first "trail kill" if he were to decide to cross my path. But he didn't. Instead, I found myself in the middle of a now 20+ mph sprint, side-by-side, with a big ol' buck! For the next 100 feet or so, we rolled...uh..ran?...side by side, until he decided he had had enough of this horseplay, and turned off into the nearby brush. I was done with my sprints after that.

This afternoon, I just don't feel a need for that strong cup of coffee that I often enjoy after a good, hard ride. Maybe I'll see if there's any of that Sleeptime herbal tea left in the cupboard to bring this shaking down a bit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Speedbump

Last week, my wife and I spent 3 days driving across the northern part of Wisconsin, with the hope of getting a route planned for the record attempt. From information I recieved on the current record holder's story, Fred Boethling, I was under the impression that most of Fred's route was along Highway 29. And when I first examined this route on a map, it appeared to make the most sense. And as we drove along on 29, I could see that much of the steeper climbs that smaller roads would include, would be a bit flatter and less severe. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, we also discovered that bicycles are not allowed on Highway 29 anywhere east of the Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire area. So my first question was: "What did Fred Boethling actually take to set his record?" The answer came to me yesterday morning while talking with a customer at work. It seems that Highway 29 was an ordinary two-lane highway back in 2002, when Fred set the record. But according to my customer, the state did some major changes to the highway a few years ago. Last night I did some research and discovered that in 2005, the State of Wisconsin "upgraded" the corridor to a four-lane freeway/expressway, making it now illegal for bicyles. Highway 29 had long been known as "Bloody 29" because of the prevalence of grisly fatal traffic crashes along significant portions of the highway.

At least now I know. And quite possibly this is why no one has challenged Fred Boethling's record that he set in 2002. But I've already begun to work on an alternate route. I am not defeated yet!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shaking it down

This weekend we do our (first) shakedown ride/drive for next summer's cross-Wisconsin record attempt - Prescott, WI to Marinette, WI. I wish the temps we've had this past week would linger on a bit longer. How much I ride the course this weekend will be determined by the weather and how smoothly the route planning goes. I had hoped to be able to ride the course earlier this summer over a period of two days. But a death in the family and change of employment caused those plans to change. All in the Lord's time. And as my friend Ben often reminds me, "It's all good!". I have to agree. After all, for the most part, my training has gone well this past summer. Old injuries of 20 years ago, have not resurfaced, even though I've been getting in some good long days on the bike. I have that to be thankful for. Plans for selecting a support crew are beginning too. Stay tuned for next week's report!