Windy 500 2017 wrap-up


Yeah, that just happened. The Windy 500 just became the most spectacular thing ever. And you weren’t there.

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It was Sofa King awesome, that it may never eclipse itself. Like Leo Sayer singing with Barry Gibb AND Justin Timberlake. Or donut wrapped hot dogs. It was that good. We may as well all put on some Nikes, cover ourselves in purple sheets and drink some Kool-Aid now…

I usually get right to the point, but I honestly don’t even know where to start this year. This was by far, the best and the most challenging time I have ever spent on a bike. We have hundreds of pictures, and it’s hard not to include all of them…

For 7 years we’ve ridden. Iron Mountain, Michigan and 545 miles the first year. 45 extra miles because we were lost. A lot. 105 degrees. Rain. 4 riders. 162 miles on Day 1 at almost 20mph average speed. No sag. Epic. Me, McArdle, Lampe and Gary Johnson. A proper beat-down, the likes of which may never be duplicated. Upon arrival, just after dark, the hotel staff hands us a small box that we UPSed there. A new kit and disposable toothbrushes for everyone. Yay! McArdle and Lampe are the only 2 to have done this every year, and McArdle is the only one who’s matched me mile for mile for the past 3,574 miles. Last year our cumulative mileage surpassed “The Ultralineamentum” – the longest possible route across the US – my initial dream/goal in this stupid plan.

Year 2: 7 guys, we decided to go West. Winona. Hills, hills and more hills. 500-something miles and 17,000+ feet of climbing. Jeremy drove his own truck for sag. Holy crap, we could actually pack a bag this time. Jeremy (aka: TRJ , aka: The Real Jeremy – ask Balden) met up with us every 25 miles or so. He thought we were nuts.

Year 3: This was the Van Halen III year – great compared to sitting at a desk, but shitty compared to the original ride. 9 riders, southern route. “Southern” was Illinois to Indiana and back. Flat, urban, and full of debris. Ridiculous number of flats, a zero score for scenery and fairly forgettable.  Still, we spent 4 days riding 500+ miles, so it wasn’t all bad. Jeremy on sag again, this time rolling right behind us the whole route. Still thinking we were nuts, but now “bike-curious”.

4: Escanaba, MI. Fantastic Mexican food, awesome route and full blown sag support. Jeremy jumps on a bike this year and becomes a legit rider. DuWayne (TRJ Sr.) takes the helm as all-time sag driver. 18mph average on a fairly flat route for 496 miles. Veterans bank their rollover miles from previous years while rookies do laps in every gas station to ensure the 500+ mark. Escanaba is a glorified shithole, but the route is a success. This thing is taking on a life of its own…

5: Back to da U.P. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 21 riders now up to Escanaba. Beer, Mexican, etc. It has rained every year to this point, we expect it to continue doing so long  after we are all dead.

6: Escanaba again. 3rd year in a row. Bike practically rides itself along the route by now. It’s an awesome route for a big group, but becoming a bit vanilla. Biblical rain (again). Hail. Sun. Fun. Laughs. 27 guys. bc and McArdle have become co-Directeur Sportifs, and apparently from April through July they only work part-time at their real jobs. The “Windy” has reached legendary status. The world is divided into two halves; those who’ve done the Windy, and those who haven’t.

Fall, 2016: Windy 500 2017 Planning session: Lampe’s firepit. Talking about Escanaba v4.0. Longing for the excitement of the early years. Lampe calls bullshit on a 4th year to MI. We all agree. You know what would be awesome? Some soul-crushing climbs and 55mph descents. Really riding. Not another charity ride. It was undeniable. It could not be undone.

Windy 500, 2017, year 7 – Winona, Minnesota and back. 22, 23, 24, 22? riders. Picked up another rider on Saturday on his way home from 7 days of RAGBRAI, lost one the same day to Volmonia, a new communicable disease that is apparently contracted from staying in shithole hotels.  18,500+ feet of climbing this year. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I contacted Pabst before the ride, and they hooked us up with some sweet swag and enough PBR to keep Jeremy hydrated for 4 days…

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IMG_3927 IMG_10498 O’something a.m. Go time.  The mayor sends us off as usual. Reaches VO2 max on the first climb out of the subdivision and taps out. Maybe SPD Crocs for 2018?IMG_1713.JPG35 miles from my driveway to Alma’s again for the most spectacular breakfast on Earth. Riders may believe that this kind of stuff just happens, but bc and McArdle have toiled for weeks going over the finer points of logistics, including trial runs to Alma’s. Rookies are clueless.IMG_1706

From there we rolled, fatter and happier, to Reedsburg. 136 miles. 5,000 feet of climbing. World’s worst hotel, The Voyageur. Don’t Google it, you’ll get some kind of disease just from looking at it. I’m not kidding. Most riders have checked in post-ride with some form of malady. All part of the adventure. I guess.

You know it’s a classy hotel when you see wheelchairs and organs for sale in the lobby.IMG_1743So, who wants to ride to Winona, MN? Let’s roll.

123 miles, another 5,000 feet of climbing. Seemed a lot harder than yesterday. Dozens of world-famous Bloedow’s Donuts were waiting for us upon arrival, laughs and even a little rest that night. By the way, the most spectacular weather ever. Mid-80s, sun and (I swear this is true) a tailwind for 500 miles. It has rained at least one day of the ride for the past 6 years straight. Rookies Dino, Janisch, Walls and Lex think this is the best thing since sliced bread. They have no idea that every year prior we’ve had to assume the tornado position at some point during the ride. Pop Tarts.

IMG_4882Rolling into Winona, we were all just happy to be clear of the Mississippi, avoiding eye contact with Leach, fearing that he might kill again.

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Sunday morning church service at 6:30am, courtesy of Dr. Long. This is a secret portion of the Windy that I really look forward to every year. Steve is an ordained Methodist minister and Professor of Theology. He offers it up to anyone who wants to participate. About 8 of us shared a private service, and it left me energized and focused on the task at hand. It also reminded me of how awesome this slice in time with this caliber of men was.

Breakfast and some foreshadowing – the hills await. 6 monster climbs. Inclines as high as 17%. We all rolled out. A bit nervous, a bit excited. Road was flat, but we could see what was coming.

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No way to avoid it. The first “hill” punched us in the throat. And by throat I mean balls. It officially qualifies as a Category 3 climb. Al Krueger now has the 5th fastest ascent (all-time) on Strava with an average speed of 9.1mph. Soul crushingly steep and long. We also climbed 2 Category 4s that same day. While I was praying for a swift death, I was reminded that it would be considered a relatively flat day in the Tour de France. Really glad I took the last year off of cycling… not.

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By the end of the day, I think everyone was smoked. We rolled into Spring Green well-done and STARVING. It was the hardest day EVER on my bike, I would have cheerfully eaten any of the various roadkill we passed in the last 50 miles. 7pm. 8pm. 9pm.  FINALLY the pizza dude showed up. At that point – no one cared. We’d have eaten a dog turd or 10. Crap-ass pizza x 15. Thanks? I know that I ate (probably) an entire pizza in about 5 minutes. I hear that there were wings too, but they were set in front of Janisch and no one ever saw them again…

  I’m excited and exhausted simultaneously. bc takes the lead on getting the fire going, and we’re in the happiest place on Earth. Again.

For the record, Ronnie James Dio once stayed at this hotel. He wants you to pull his finger.

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Day 4: Rested, humbled, ready. Just 112 easy miles, only 3,000 feet uphill to go. No real climbs, just all rollers. I could go on and on, but honestly – you had to be there.

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M.I.A. – Dave Volmmmmonia

Did we have fun? We’ll never tell, but I’m guessing by the smiles that you already know the answer…

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I think Jeremy McKinney’s second cousin Cat Stevens sang it best:

And the cat’s in the river in the afternoon
Jumped off the bridge just past that pontoon
When’s it coming back, Leach?
I don’t know when
But we’ll be in Reedsburg then, yeah
You know we’ll catch pneumonia then
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
2018 – 8th annual – Back to Winona!
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2014 Windy 500 is in the books


Technology 1. Duwayne 0.

Technology 1. Duwayne 0.

What turned out to the be the best Windy 500 ever fell short in only one category: mileage.  This year’s route left us 4 miles short: 496 miles with an 18mph average speed.  In all the years past we were always over, so at this point I’m using my rollover miles to call it an even 500.  This ride really has taken on a life of its own.  Year One was 4 guys and no support – chasing daylight 160 miles on Day 1.  This year was 11 guys with a full size Suburban stocked with tools and cold PBR following 100 yards behind us all day.

"Beer-canical!"

“Beer-canical!”

From the start, this year was spot on.  Blake lead us out of my driveway and proceeded to sprint into a mailbox 2 blocks down the road.  That’s why we don’t include 7 year-olds in flip-flops…

start

Everyone stretched their legs a bit in the first section through Holy Hill before we settled into a comfortable pace for the rest of the ride.  A quick stop in Allenton to fuel up and we were off.  Lunch was a walk down memory lane from Year One in Oshkosh.

Mex

A toast to Gary Johnson

A toast to Gary Johnson

Typically, we end up with a lot of flats, which means we end up stopping a lot for PBRs.  This year we had only 4 flats (plus one slow leak), all of which were caused by road hazards.  It’s tough to go 500 miles in Wisconsin during August without hitting at least some road construction.  We found our share of gravel roads and potholes, but there were times when we actually needed faux-flats in order to make sure we stayed hydrated.

Purple Bunny Rabbit

Purple Bunny Rabbit

The first day ended in Green Bay, and in the morning we took off for Escanaba.  Everyone was feeling great, and the roads were spectacular and pancake flat.  This trip is really all about the journey, and this year was by far the best ever.  We tapped out about 120 miles on Day 2 at with a 19.1 average speed surrounded by lush country scenery.

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In the zone...

In the zone…

The Windy 500 has become a testing ground for Mexican food, and this year we found the best South of the Border food North of the Border.  Just over the Michigan state line we stopped for lunch at La Cabana.  If you ever find yourself in Menominee, MI with an empty stomach, I highly recommend the special of the day.

Cabana

From there it was an easy roll to Escanaba, where we enjoyed fine imported beer.

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pbr3The following morning we turned our bikes around and headed South.  Jeremy was plagued with the first couple of flats, but then McArdle and I each fell victim as well.

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The Real Jeremy gets a Real Flat

The Real Jeremy gets a Real Flat

Back to La Cabana for another spectacular lunch and back to Green Bay for another spectacular moonlit night.

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Of course, it wasn’t all fun.  We did make sure to journal our food and use food scales to properly measure what we were taking in.  The body is a temple after all. 

Hydration is key

Hydration is key

ice creaM

Always keep your sag driver happy…

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Beggars can’t be choosers

We hit a little rain on Friday and a little more on Monday (tradition), but never enough to dampen spirits.  Thankfully, we always seemed to find a PBR dispensary at just the right time.

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We rolled into Brookfield around dinner time on Monday, always good to get home.  Everyone was a little tired, but in one piece.

This route was so awesome, we’re considering doing it again next year.

Smack talk, flatulence, bondage, midgets, unicorns...

Smack talk, flatulence, bondage, midgets, unicorns…

W500 PBR logo

Windy 500 v4.0: It’s the Final Countdown


Europe

We are nowhere near as cool or sexy as these long-maned Swedish man-whores, but we’re not opposed to letting a Glam Metal staple like Europe explain the Windy 500 v4.0:

“We’re leaving together,
But still it’s farewell
And maybe we’ll come back,
To earth, who can tell?”

I don’t even know if they speaks the English so good, so I doubt they knew what they were singing about.  Or maybe they were actually trying to make the second worst song ever

Side Note: In my former life as a local roadie, I actually set up for Europe (or was it Holland?) at Marty Zivko’s in Hartford.

Anyway, back to bike riding.  The 4th Annual Ride of Stupidity is nearly here and we have a dozen or so slightly shorter haired dudes ready to Ride Angry.

This year’s ride will be one veteran short, and therefore for the first time ever, the coveted Grey Jersey (“Gris Jaune”) will be up for grabs.  Our esteemed colleague, Jeremy Johnson, suffered a nasty fall and is on the Injured Reserve for this go-round:

Jeremy Johnson warming up for Schlitz Park

Jeremy Johnson warming up for Schlitz Park

All the best my man!

Look for the full ride report mid-August, and mark your calendars for next year’s adventure.

1waba050

2013 Windy 500 report


Here we go…

Mile 0.

Mile 0.

The kinder, gentler version of the Windy rolled out on July 25th and ended up also being the easiest, shortest, best attended and record # of flat tires (20ish?) so far.  No 160+ mile days at 20mph this year.

Almost no one was immune this year (technically).

Almost no one was immune this year (technically).

Riding through the urban jungle (Racine is beautiful in July…) means riding through lots of crap on the road, so daily flats became a part of the experience.  500.4 miles and just 8,208 feet of elevation gain.

Mile 6.  We are so screwed.

Mile 6. We are so screwed.

This ride has grown a bit since its inception 3 years ago.  Back then it was just 4 guys on bikes who shipped a small box of stuff to a couple of hotels.  No support.  This year we had a full-sized Suburban full of crap, a skilled driver who always made sure the PBR was stocked and cold when we rolled in, and 9 riders.

W500 PBR logo

Speaking of PBR, this year we combined the Windy 500 with another ride: “the PBR”.  If you know the ride, consider yourself down.  It’s a slower paced 150 miles over 2 days punctuated with awesome food, lots of wine and other beverages.

Wine

Steak

Because we would be behind on mileage for the first 2 days, we rode out to Palmyra (the “P” in the PBR ride) on Thursday night.  Mileage looked like this for the long weekend:

  • Day .5                         42.2 miles
  • Day 1.0                       50.1 miles
  • Day 1.1                       52.1 miles
  • Day 2.0                       46.3 miles
  • Day 2.1                       55.6 miles
  • Day 3.0                       110.7 miles
  • Day 4.0                       143.4 miles

We’ve gone North & West and since you can’t go East of Milwaukee without a seaworthy vessel, we headed South this year. 

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Indiana

Chicago and Northern Indiana don’t really offer much in the way of beautiful scenery, so the vibe was markedly different from years past.

Chi town

The route did offer lots of places to stop (although some were in areas that you couldn’t have paid us to stop in) and lots of “local color” as Chris McArdle pointed out.

All in all – another successful long weekend of nothing but riding, eating, drinking and smack talk.

Smack

We ended up on a lots of Rails to Trails segments, usually a better alternate to the Ghetto Ride.

We ended up on a lots of Rails to Trails segments, usually a better alternative than the Ghetto Ride.

2 dead soldiers.

2 dead soldiers.

Sausage Party!

Sausage Party!

Better Sausage Party!  Real Chicago dogs fueled the final leg.

Better Sausage Party! Real Chicago dogs fueled the final leg.

I changed a lot of flats.  All on Lampe's bike.

I changed a lot of flats. All on Lampe’s bike.

Many times we helped change flats by taking pictures, talking smack and drinking PBRs.

Many times we helped change flats by taking pictures, talking smack and drinking PBRs.

There were MANY flats.  Therefore, there were MANY PBRs.

There were MANY flats. Therefore, there were MANY PBRs.

1 of 2 times we saw the sun and temps above the low 60's.

1 of 2 times we saw the sun and temps above the low 60’s.

Gravel.

Gravel.

Sophisticated Cobbles?

Sophisticated Cobbles?

Another flat/PBR break.

Another flat/PBR break.

Best.  Ride.  Ever.

Best. Ride. Ever.

As the rookies said, count me in for next year!  Already planning for 2014, when we may head back to ‘da UP again…

You might even be invited this time.

Potential 2014 dates:
July 25 – 28
August 1 – 4
August 8 – 11

9 Reasons Not To Miss The 2013 Windy 500


164 days until the 2013 edition of the Windy 500 rolls…

This year, we’ve added a new twist: those in the know will know.

Why should you ride your bike 500 miles in 4 days?  Here are 9 reasons:

Sky

This is what you’ll see. Every day. For miles and miles and miles…

1 man's meal

All that riding will make you hungry and thirsty. So you’ll eat. And you’ll drink. As much as you can.

Flat 2

You’ll experience quality time with your friends while you learn the fine art of bicycle maintenance.

Farmer

You’ll sip from the finest wells in America. We called this one “Fart Water”.

Sign language

You’ll learn new languages and/or how to make PBR soup with your thighs.

Shots

Not enough Tequila in this town to make that woman pretty. But enough to make Jeremy wander around aimlessly for a few hours…

Hallway

Deluxe Super 8 accommodations

Flat 1

Friends, bike maintenance, blue skies, blah, blah, blah…

Ride

In the end, it’s really about the people and the ride.

2012 Windy 500 dates are set!


Next year’s 2nd Windy 500 will take place from August 3rd to August 6th.

500 miles in 4 days.  Nothing but bikes and beers.   This year’s adventure left us all with some great stories as well as something to brag to our grand-kids about someday.

The goal this year will be to (at least) double the number of riders.  We’ll have a support vehicle and even more fun (did I mention beer yet?)

Bookmark the website, and check back for details:

www.windy500.com

ToAD and WORS schedules are posted, this does not interfere with either, so get it on your calendar.

I’d like to get a preliminary count of people who are interested, and we can all do the planning together in Spring.

jasonkayzar@mc2wi.com

Let my friend Chevy explain why you should “…go for it!”:

The end of an era


7,437 miles and counting…

In the past 2 calendar years, the longest I’ve been off the bike was 9 days: November 30 to December 8, 2010.  Before that, I wasn’t keeping track.

I’ve enjoyed every mile – every adventure, every race, every crash, every one of the 316 rides so far.  But it’s time for a little time off the bike.  I’ll run, lift, do something else.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be riding on a regular basis, just much less… for now.

Ah, who am I kidding?  I’m riding tomorrow.