2016 Windy 500 wrap-up


AKA: 14.5 Reasons Riding Bikes 500 Miles Will Make You More Awesome

The 2016 Windy 500 rolled out sort of  on-time on Friday, July 30th at 8:20am-ish, 27 strong.  Blake signed on again as our lead-out man.
IMG_3314-EFFECTSWe would have left earlier if not for a mystery deuce or two.  No idea who was responsible, but I have my suspicions.

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This ride is only a success because of the year-long pre-planning that goes into it, specifically from bc and McArdle.  Our first stop was breakfast at Alma’s in Allenton. We were treated to a hot and ready breakfast buffet that would have made your momma cry.  30 or so guys had even made a recon run up to the restaurant 2 weeks earlier to make sure they’d be ready for us.  Unbelievable.

With bellies sufficiently full we rolled on, destined for more food and drink.  Most new guys scoffed at the fact that we all gain weight on this ride, yet post-ride scales generally register 5-6 pounds heavier (I was at almost +7).  Next stop – salted nut rolls and PBR.

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Next stop – MEXICAN FOOD!  Roughly 80 miles in is the Oshkosh food stop.  We filled the outdoor seating area and watched a massive amount of planes flying in and out of the EAA.

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Parking was somewhat of a premium.

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A very different scenario from the 4 random, haggard, unsupported cyclists that found this gem 6 years earlier.  Hey, I think that’s the guy that took a big grumpy at my house before we left!

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Alright, this is a bike ride after all.  According to Strava, we covered over 515 miles in 4 days.  We all stared at many a man-ass for hours at a time.  I try to block that part from my mind.

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After 137.1 miles we enjoyed a late dinner at Titletown Brewery and crashed relatively early at the Hyatt like the ballers we are.

Day 2 got us up and moving toward Escanaba.  We had a number of bonus stops to make, so we got right to it.  Random roadside bathroom breaks allowed Duwayne to pick up a hitch hiker destined for the border.  He liked our group so much that he stayed on for the whole trip.

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 There are only 3 guidelines for the Windy 500:

  1. Do not talk about Fight Club.
  2. Ride your a bike 500 miles
  3. Complete the ride in 4 days
  4. Cross a state line.

Shortly after we cross into Michigan we stop at our favorite Mexican restaurant:

La Cabaña 

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If you haven’t been there, you suck and you should not be allowed to reproduce.

Some day we may figure out that wearing the tightest clothes you have and eating until you can’t breathe, followed by riding bikes in the heat is a terrible idea, but I really hope we don’t.  So, 2 miles later we went to Freddy’s Grandma’s to eat the world’s largest chocolate chip cookies.

Is that Deuce Bigelo?

Is that Deuce Bigelo?

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Next stop – Bruguglio’s.  Last year we had our only* crash. 2 minutes later the skies opened up and it started to pour.  We were taken in by the kindness of a family at their lake-side cabin, so we decided to stop by again this year and deliver some of those world record cookies.

Jeremy Kazaks representing and Bill Costanza chillaxin'.

Jeremy Kazaks representing and Bill Costanza chillaxin’.

Day 2 – done.  116.6 miles.  Running total – 253.7 miles.  

 * yeah, so… crashes.  Only 1 “officially” in all Windy’s combined.  Unless you count the 3-4 solo (stone cold sober) parking lot crashes in 2016.  I can’t explain it.  First Aid was administered to boo-boos and we rolled.

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Saturday night we stayed in the dumpiest dump of all, complete with Glade Plug-Ins and a cold-plunge pool that was once a functioning hot tub.  The town shuts down at sunset, so it was pizzas delivered to the conference/breakfast room for dinner.

Escanaba - a nice place to... leave.

Escanaba – a nice place to… leave.

Early Sunday morning Dr. Long treated a group of us to a very moving outdoor service, while sporting a Ben’s Cycle shirt.  This year’s ride produced so many memorable things that it’s really hard to cram them all in, but this was definitely pretty high on the list.

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Did I mention that we also rode bikes?  Blah, blah blah.

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Day 3, rolling, rolling rolling. Our longest day, 152.7 miles – running total 406.4 miles.  Unbelievable, spectacular, unicorns and rainbows weather.  82° and a tailwind.  We covered the first 100 miles like butter in a hot pan.

Day 4 – home.  109 miles – 515.4 miles all in.

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We learned a lot along the way:

If you want raw corn for breakfast at Burger King, you have to bring your own.

If you want raw corn for breakfast at Burger King, you have to bring your own.

Self explanatory.

Self explanatory.

There's a little Mexican in all of us.

There’s a little Mexican in all of us.

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Really old people with narcolepsy can be a danger to themselves and others.

Really old people with narcolepsy can be a danger to themselves and others.

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Helping someone change a flat is best done by sitting down and making fun of them.

Helping someone change a flat is best done by sitting down and making fun of them.

My friends are awesome.  they can do anything.

My friends are awesome. They can do anything.

Did I mention that my friends are awesome?

Did I mention that my friends are awesome?

Lastly – don’t ever be the last guy to use the bathroom, or we’ll move the van and hide behind the gas station when you come out so you think we left without you.

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Windy 500 2017 planning has already begun.  It is becoming too amazing to contain.  We may begin limiting spots.  If you want in, raise your hand now or you may be left behind.

Why I do it, maybe you should too


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

– Hunter S. Thompson

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There are certain questions that only you and I can answer for ourselves.  In the midst of life – job, kids, hectic schedules, etc., those questions and answers are often perpetually set aside.  Suddenly a week goes by, then a month, a year,  a decade.  Time is a constant.  Even though it feels like it speeds up every year, it hasn’t since I was a 10 year-old cruising the neighborhood with my BMX bike on one of those those long, hot July days.  It seemed like the sun would never set and when it finally did I was all too happy to crawl into bed and wait for the next day’s adventure to unfold.

The Windy 500 has become that endless July day to me – literally.  Years ago as I approached my 40th birthday, I found myself needing to find that place in my soul again.  That same year, a random business conversation took an extreme turn when I found out that the person I was talking to had ridden across the U.S. as a teen with his whole family.  We were having lunch at a sports-themed restaurant and the Tour de France flashed across one of the TV screens.  One of us mentioned it, and he dropped the bomb.  His younger brother heard a speaker at school talk to the kids about a cross-country adventure, so that night at the dinner table the entire family of non-cyclists committed to a cross-country trip.  His story was fascinating: Schwinn Varsities, sleeping in front yards, Dad going back to work after 2 weeks leaving Mom to complete the trip with the kids, racing to the post office to pick up Western Union funds before closing time…  No phones, no GPS, carrying everything they needed.  The journey had shaped him, and made a permanent mark on the man he has become.  

I began reading all the books I could find about those types of cross-country adventures and began planning to cross the U.S. by bike.  Then, reality happened.  I had a job, a family, a company – responsibilities.  The Windy 500 quickly became the “stunt double” for the cross-country trip that never happened.  Last year, as we rolled into my driveway and completed the 5th annual Windy 500, I had essentially completed my transcontinental trip.  As the crow flies, it’s about 2500 miles, +/-, across the USA, so this year’s edition will mark the beginning of the return trip.

I can’t really put into words what this adventure means to me, though I’ve tried: Getting There…  It’s something that has come to mean a lot of things to more and more people every year.  Whenever I try to describe it, I end comparing it to seeing the mountains for the first time – “…you just had to be there…”

Maybe this is your year to just be there.  Maybe it’s next year.  Doesn’t matter to me, I’ll be there every year until I have no more left.

Windy 500 Planning Session:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

7:00pm – ?

Big Head Brewing Co.

6204 W. State Street, Wauwatosa, WI 53213

2015 Windy 500… you had to be there.


Alright folks, here it is – the one and only Windy 500 has once again shocked and amazed.  Old friends got reacquainted, new friends were made, beers were consumed and miles were ridden.  If you weren’t there, here’s a little glimpse of what you missed.  If you WERE there, consider yourself down, and take a minute to sop it up…

Roll out – Friday, July 31, late (as usual)…

No mailboxes were hurt during the roll-out.

No mailboxes or 8 year-olds were hurt during the roll-out.

Out on the open road, and within about 1/2 a mile we lost our sag.  We went right and the van went left.  (Note from Al Krueger 10 miles later, Jason’s bike that he cobbled together the night before, unsurprisingly and finally, gave out. So, we sat on the side of the road for 35 minutes in the lovely Holy Hill area while we waited to get re-grouped with the sag, get his bike that actually worked and then we continued on.)  10 miles later we re-grouped and continued on.  The winds whipped up, making it impossible to communicate but we hammered on.  Eventually we fell into a rhythm, but not before stopping to all yell at each other a little.  The 5th Windy 500 was off to a very predictable start.

Contrary to popular belief, we actually did ride our bikes from time to time.

Further up the road (Oshkosh) we made the first of many mandatory stops for Mexican food and hydration.

Lampe doing his best Windy mascot impression.

Lampe doing his best Windy mascot impression.

These are some tiny water glasses Señor!

These are some tiny water glasses Señor!

Back on the road, and back to the brutal head and crosswinds.  This year the Windy finally lived up to its name.  The was very little shelter from the wind, but having 21 riders sharing the work certainly helped a ton.

Duwayne making driving 500 miles at 22mph look like cake.

Duwayne making driving 500 miles at 22mph look like cake.

Friday evening I was treated to a fantastic birthday celebration.  It’s easy to have fun when you “know SO many people…”

Say fellas, you know what would make this evenings celebration a real hoot? A giant boot full of beer!

Say fellas, you know what would make this evenings celebration a real hoot? A giant boot full of beer!

On my way to gaining 8 pounds over the weekend...

On my way to gaining 8 pounds over the weekend…

A great time was had by all, or so I’ve heard.  Back on the road on Saturday, a spectacular day all around.

A rare shot of Al not punching me in the balls.

A rare shot of Al not punching me in the balls.

It wasn’t long before we checked off one of the few Windy requirements: cross a state line.

Here's a nice picture before Jeremy was assaulted by a homeless lady because his bike was in her way...

Here’s a nice picture before Jeremy was assaulted by a homeless lady because his bike was in her way…

The best part of rolling into the U.P. has become a stop at the legendary La Cabaña.

Did I mention that I gained 8 pounds?

Did I mention that I gained 8 pounds?

PBR may just be the perfect  fuel for this event.

PBR – the perfect fuel for this event.

Sharing is caring.  This year bc introduced the all-new

Sharing is caring. This year bc introduced the all-new “Beach-canical” and a few guys took advantage with a quick dip in Lake Michigan.

After a relatively long but uneventful day in the saddle, we finally reached our turn-around.

There are a LOT more dudes in this picture than last year.

There are a LOT more dudes in this picture than last year.  We might need a bigger sign in 2016.

And then there was Sunday.  A very long day on tap, 152 miles, and the forecast looked absolutely beautiful… a week ago.  By that morning the forecasters were predicting severe thunderstorms, hail and we even heard 60 mph winds at one point.

You can't not smile on the Windy.  I see you trying Mauck, it's not working.

You can’t not smile on the Windy. I see you trying Mauck, it’s not working.

The weather started off OK, but shortly into the ride there was a millisecond of lost focus and a couple of guys went down hard.  Road rash, bruised parts and egos, and a completely shredded derailleur hangar on Jeremy’s bike.  Then, to add insult to injury, the first storm hit.  Al made quick work of repairing the bike damage, and we found a temporary haven with the Briguglios in their Lake house.

The work shed became just that during the storm, as Al made quick work of turning Jeremy's bike into a single speed to complete the next 250 miles.  Rule #5.

The work shed became just that during the storm, as Al made quick work of turning Jeremy’s bike into a single speed to complete the next 250 miles. Rule #5.

While Al was hard at work fixing bikes in a musty shed, the rest of us got to work screwing around.

Mile after mile, Volm never seemed to get tired...

Mile after mile, Volm never seemed to get tired…

Just kidding.  We all shared the work.

Just kidding. We all shared the work.

Just as we’d fall into a groove, the storms would whip up out of nowhere.  A quick stop for fuel at a gas station would turn into shelter from the hail and driving wind and rain within 5 minutes.

12:05 -

12:05 – “Well guys, looks like smooth sailing today!”

12:10 -

12:10 – “Is that hail??”

Although this day was the second longest in Windy history, and definitely the worst weather ever, it was epic.  Everyone will remember it, and it made for some awesome riding.

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Although no one really likes Al, we all seem to love him after he's had 1 beer.

Although no one really likes Al, we all seem to love him after he’s had 1 beer.

Here's Sarver looking for a bay window to relieve himself in front of.  He now holds the Guinness record for exposure to the locals.

Here’s Sarver looking for a bay window to relieve himself in front of. He now holds the Guinness record for exposure to the locals.

Sunday evening we enjoyed pizzas by the pool and hot tub, along with Jameson and “guess my age” with strangers.  I’m not sure who won, but Finn definitely lost.  Monday morning we cashed in the points we earned on Sunday and were treated to the best weather we could have asked for.

The hotel showers served as bike wash stations. After Sunday's storms it was hard to see what color each bike was.

The hotel showers served as bike wash stations. After Sunday’s storms it was hard to see what color each bike was.

We didn't have too many mechanicals, but almost all flats seemed to happen within a mile of the previous stop.  Now THAT'S how you flat!

We didn’t have too many mechanicals, but almost all flats seemed to happen within a mile of the previous stop. Now THAT’S how you flat!

McArdle getting his angry face ready for some yelling.

McArdle getting his angry face ready for some yelling.

Nothing I could say here would explain this.

Nothing I could say here would explain this.

Who would have thought that this little rolling birthday party that started with 4 guys and a stupid idea would morph into the most celebrated weekend of every year?

Who would have thought that this little rolling birthday party that started with 4 guys and a stupid idea would morph into the most celebrated weekend of every year?

Ready for more, but the road ends here.

Ready for more, but the road ends here.

502 miles – done.  Definitely one for the books.  At this point, it’s hard to have a favorite year.  What’s not hard to do, is start thinking about next year’s trip already.

This year’s ride is dedicated to Sugs who lost a week-long battle for his life after a serious accident last week.  They don’t make many like him, and the world will miss you Rob.  WORS, the Rampage, and countless other places and events where friends gather to ride bikes together will never be the same.

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.

ToAD 2015


Awesome 10 days of racing, and a surprising 4th overall after our leader had a string of bad luck and dropped from 2nd to 5th overall.

Great team, great guys, great sponsors and great event.

So... this happened...

So… this happened…

60474777-East+Troy+1+6-19-15+106

Jersey exchange?


Just throwing it out there…

I have a shit-ton of jerseys, and I figured it would be really cool to swap my old ones with someone from far, far away.  By total chance this weekend, I found some dude in Pakistan on Instagram rocking a jersey I sold on Ebay 2 years ago.

So I Googled “cycling jersey exchange”, and I found jack squat.  Nothing.

Here’s my “ask’:

I have jerseys – Men’s Large, race cut.   You have jerseys – Men’s Large, race cut?  Let’s swap – like for like.

Interested? jasonkayzar@gmail.com

I guarantee that they are not hideous:

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Go.