2018 Windy 500 wrap-up


509 miles this year makes it 4,083 total Windy 500 miles ridden for me so far. That’s the equivalent of a round-trip ride from Toronto, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and back. For the rest of you Pop Tarts, your total Windy mileage ranges somewhere between 4,083 (McArdle) & 509 (everyone else). What matters most though is not the mileage, it’s the adventure.

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This year, as with every year, the ride rolled from my house. Day 1 is a mix of veterans and newbies, well-wishers and tag-alongs who roll to the first stop with us and then head home.  It usually takes a few hours after we roll out to find our rhythm. Some are better than others at riding 2 up in big groups. Those who’ve raced are comfortable on someone’s wheel at 30 mph, riding shoulder to shoulder. That type of confidence makes for very smooth, safe, confident riding. Others, not so much. This group is a mixed bag of experience and ability, so for some, it’s a bit of a crash course in technique (without the actual crash part). Eventually, people figure it out, and we do our best to ride as one unit for the next 3 1/2 days.

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Day 1, stop 1, ALMA’S Cafe in Allenton. They’ve treated us way too well over the years, and after 35-40 miles of riding on fumes, their breakfast sandwiches are better than peanut butter dipped in peanut butter.

Our favorite stop is always Kwik Trip, because… it’s Kwik Trip:

A5A19250-9649-4B77-8845-79BD4527150D  IMG_1033

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I would not recommend human consumption of ice purchased at Kwik Trip. Just sayin’.

Eventually, the hills find us:

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We ride all day, and nights are dinners and renewing friendships.

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Mornings are van loading and slowly rolling out of whatever parking lot we have taken over.

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It’s riding, chatting, working, recovering and most of all, making memories that will last a lifetime:

Geez Janisch, lighten up and enjoy yourself!

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

As always, if you weren’t there, you’ll never know.

The Windy 500 is just a bike ride, but it changes you, makes you better. The hardest day for me is always Day 5. The day when I wake up and shower and put on people clothes and drive to work and sit down at my desk. And I don’t pedal. Not once. And I don’t climb. And I don’t descend, screaming into a valley, tucked into my handlebars at 54, 55, 56 mph, with 5 guys right next to me, all doing the same, all smiling, ear to ear. I just sit.

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It has taken me quite a while to sit down and compose my thoughts about this year’s ride. The Windy 500 has become an extremely important part of my life, and I generally start planning the next ride when we roll into my driveway on Day 4. During the ride, we discuss ways to improve the experience, and I arrive home with scraps of hotel paper and bar napkins with random thoughts and ideas scribbled down on them. This year, I rolled into my driveway alone. And it was over. I showered up and sat down to a home-cooked meal with my wife and kids.  The rest of the group rolled on to Wauwatosa to celebrate Bill Finn’s birthday. I had developed some kind of sinus cold on Day 2 and once I cleaned up I was done for the day. And I didn’t think about next year’s ride until a few days later.

For 4 days on the ride, I control what I do. I control my time, my efforts, my thoughts. Well, maybe not my thoughts. But I really don’t think about manipulating Excel spreadsheets much. Or my mortgage. Or yard work. I just think about riding. And talking to my close friends. Mostly about nothing. Locker room talk and juvenile jokes. But sometimes it’s about really important stuff. Really deep stuff. The kind of stuff you can talk about when there’s nothing to do all day but move your legs in hundreds of thousands of circles.

That’s my Windy 500. I work really hard at times, not so hard at other times. I wake up, grab some coffee and wait for the hotel’s breakfast to fire up. Then I get ready and I ride. All day. For 4 days. It’s as pure as it gets.

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But this was Year 8, and I’ve done this before. 7 times before. And it was an adventure. A long time ago. In fact, I heard some of the guys who weren’t there in those early years telling the stories, and they even got some of it right.

Every year, somewhere along the route, people will ask:

“What are you riding for?”

I was recently reminded of this by my friend Dr. Long, and it stuck in my head like glue. The Windy 500 has become an event without a purpose. Without a True North. Why indeed? 

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Do you know what homogenized milk is, Billy? It’s bland Billy. Bland. And the Windy is pretty well homogenized. We eat in fancy restaurants and we have name tags, Billy. Name tags!

img_6692-4x6Don’t know how to change a tire Jimmy? It’s OK, we bring lots of extra wheels! img_1107And at the end of your long day, you get to swim and relax with other busy execs!img_1192

Meh. I think it’s time to shake it up again.

Don’t get me wrong – this ride is still SUPER awesome. The route, the riders, the endless miles in the saddle. But it’s become so big, such an event, that it’s not what it was originally intended to be. For me.

For many of the other guys that did the ride this year, and for those who have done it in past years, maybe it’s exactly what they want it to be. But the ride is at an intersection, and for Year 9, 2019, I need more. Or maybe less.

Here’s the complete list of rules for the original Windy 500, back from 2011:

  1. You must ride a bike 500+ miles in 4 days
  2. You must ride in at least 2 states

Unfortunately, the rules have been amended over the years to include:

  1. Hotels must have pools. And hot tubs.
  2.  Support vehicle must be stocked with refreshments, spare wheels, spare bikes, (maybe spare riders next year?)
  3. Rest stops can take as long as the anyone wants them to.
  4. Anyone can make up rules as we go…

I realize that this is not just my ride anymore. Heck, I’m barely even responsible for it now. And don’t get me wrong, I like the pools. I look forward to cooling down after the ride. But the sense of adventure that launched this journey is long gone. So 2019’s route will have 2 fully supported options:

Group 1: 

Faster guys, stronger climbers, fewer stops. NOT race pace, but it will be challenging.

Group 2:

Casual pace. Riders will re-group at the tops of climbs. More frequent rest stops. This group will most likely leave 1/2 hour prior to Group 1. Both Groups will meet at the lunch stop and at the hotel. No need for the faster guys to feel held back and no need for the more casual guys to turn themselves inside out. And having 2 smaller groups will do wonders for safety.

That’s all. We’ll probably go West again. The route is really beautiful and certainly challenging. And everyone is welcome back.

Oh, and to answer the question “What are you riding for?”  I defer to McArdle’s answer:

“AWESOMENESS.”

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2015 Windy 500 dates announced!


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​I flew to Switzerland last night to attend the official press announcement for the
2015 Windy 500.
​The event was a phenomenal, star-studded extravaganza.  I sat between Ben Stiller and Mark Cavendish.  Can’t believe that our little ride has grown into a Worldwide affair.
 
Anyway, the 2015 Windy 500 (V) will once again travel North to Escanaba, MI.
Looks like we may have found the perfect route in 2014, so we’re sticking with it.
The ride will take place July 31 – August 3, 2015.
Mark your calendars!
Interested in riding?
jasonkayzar@gmail.com

January 2013 Networking ride wrap-up


Alrighty, due to the awesome power of the World Wide Interwebs, the Networking Ride blog looks like a malware site now:

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The site is fine, no malware, but some 35-year-old douche-bag that lives in his parent’s basement is probably chuckling all over his Cheetos about this.  I’m just a caveman, so I haven’t figured out how to fix it yet.

Anyway, I thought I’d at least post a wrap-up for the last Networking ride here, before I forget.

We rolled last week, and there were 8 of us out in the unseasonably warm weather.  If you ask me what the forecast will be for the second Wednesday of any month I can honestly tell you that it will be spectacular.  This is the start of the 5th year of this ride, and I believe we were snowed out on one occasion, and rained on a time or 2.  That’s a pretty great track record for 48 consecutive rides in every month of the year in Wisconsin!

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…happy to NOT be sitting at my desk right now

Aaron Schindler gettin' after it on 26" wheels

Aaron Schindler gettin’ after it on 26″ wheels

Do these tights make my butt look fat??

Do these tights make my butt look fat??

Be there on February 13th for a special Valentine’s Day Eve ride!  There will be bikes and beer!

If you’re down with it, you know the time and place.

“Windy 500” ride report


Q: “Where are you guys from?

A: “Milwaukee”

Q: “Where you headed?”

A: (depended on what day it was)

  • “Shawano”
  • “Iron Mountain, Michigan”
  • “Shawano”
  • “Milwaukee”

Q: “What are you doing this for?”

A: “For fun”

…long pause…

“I can think of a lot more fun things to do than this…”

And so it went for 4 days with just about every non-cyclist we talked to (which was everyone we talked to).

Gary, Mark (“Flat Stanley”), Chris and I left my house on Friday morning and proceeded to ride 545 miles in 4 days.

161 on day 1:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/100204643

126 on day 2:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/100206318

119 on day 3:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/100207505

139 on day 4:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/100208123

We lucked out by getting the hottest stretch of weather of the year.  Temps on the road reached 104 degrees, and the dew points reached into the 80s.  Along the way, we racked up:

one broken spoke

three ripped tires requiring

  1. a patch
  2. a boot
  3. a Shot Block wrapper repair

seven blown tubes

twelve used CO2 cartridges

We consumed approximately 12 gallons of water and slightly less beer

We burned approximately 100,000 calories or 28.5 pounds.

Many of the people “Up Nort”” were intrigued by our choice of transportation and our lack of camouflage clothing, but they were all hospitable.

The first day was a beat-down.  I believe 161 miles in 1 day was a personal best for all 4 of us.  The weather was very warm but not hot, and thankfully the whole weekend was mostly overcast.  For any group of 4 guys trading pulls, 19.6 average moving speed for that many miles will take its toll.  We were all tired at the end of day 1, but Gary was clearly the most spent.  Day 2 brought the heat, and the second 100+ mile day and we managed to bring the speed down a bit.  Google Bike Maps is great for coming up with routes… assuming you’re riding a cyclocross bike.  By Day 2, it had us using gravel roads and even a sand road – complete with angry swarms of horseflies.  We had to improvise using the sun for navigation on un-mapped country (paved) roads and eventually wised up and went old-school with a paper map for back-up.

Day 3 proved to be too much for Gary.  He had soldiered on, but his body never recovered from the effort of day 1.  I would have pulled the plug, but Gary kept riding until we all made the decision to get him a ride to the next stop.  The heat was brutal and we were in the middle of nowhere at times – it became a true safety issue at that point.  He truly gets the “HTFU” award for the week.

Day 4 started with us huddled around the Weather Channel at the hotel for an early departure.  A severe heat advisory had been issued, along with a severe storm warning – fantastic.  We rolled for an hour before the sky got so black we had to put lights on.  Minutes before the rain started coming down in sideways sheets, we found refuge in a corner store in the middle of the country.  We waited about 30 minutes while the storm ripped branches from trees that littered the road for the next 30 miles before taking off in a light rain.  Thankfully the overcast stayed for most of the day because when the sun did pop out it became brutally hot on the roads.

The ride ended at about 7:20pm back at my house on Monday night, 545 miles after it started.  Everyone agreed that it would be strange to NOT get up and ride the next day, but it would have been tough for any of us to find a comfortable spot on any saddle for another 100+ mile day.

I’ve already started planning the 2012 ride and it will be even more awesome – stay tuned!

July Networking ride report


Absolutely perfect weather greeted 30 riders as we toed the line at Attitude for the July networking ride.  Actually 31, as Jim Mitchell missed the launch but followed behind solo.

A great time was had by all – once again we held the speed to a comfortable chat pace.  Billy O. and Bill King led the group out and we followed the route to a T, with not one single wrong turn (could be a first…).

Afterward we crammed into and outside of Seester’s for dozens of Dos XX, generously purchased by Brad Babcock.  Brad works with surety bonds and has a ton of customers in the construction trades.  He appears to be extremely well-connected too, so I’m anxious to talk to him more on the next ride.

We had quite a few new riders to the group as well, (Brad Kussow shot me a quick note to say he had a great time on his first networking ride) which is always great to see.  This is first and foremost a networking opportunity for like-minded business-people.  I am currently working on a stand-alone website for the group which will list ride info, as well as info companies and individuals that participate.  I am hoping to have the website be a great “go-to” for connecting people outside of the 3 hours we spend together once a month.  Please feel free to email any suggestions to me of content you’d like to see on the site.

Next ride is Wednesday, August 10th.  Mark your calendars now!

June 2011 Networking Ride report


Welcome back cycling enthusiasts!

This ride was started a few years ago as an alternative to golf networking, with the goal being getting like-minded business people together for a “chat” ride once a month.  Over the last 2 years, the ride has attracted stronger and stronger riders, and the pace has slowly crept up to the point of excluding many of the potential riders.  This was never the goal, so I have decided to be more proactive in controlling the pace of the ride and make sure we keep it reasonable for everyone.  I’ve talked to a number of people who are on the email list (now 350-ish strong) who’ve said they’d love to ride but “we’re too fast” for them.

Yesterday’s route  averaged 18.9 mph – a very respectable pace for the weekend warrior, and a nice recovery pace for the more experienced cyclist.  Our average pace had been creeping up to 20 mph and sometimes more, and I found that we had really begun to alienate the core of “enthusiast” riders that this ride is for. I’ll do my best, and ask those faster riders, to try to keep the pace closer to 18 – 19 (max) from now on.

Flats suck.  The only thing this picture is missing is Russell Jobs giving the finger.

(We did learn while trying to find a tube to fit these deep dish wheels that Gary Johnson’s stem is the longest among all men – even if it’s only by millimeters…)

  I brought my single speed yesterday, and anytime I found myself spinning out of gear, I went to the front to draw the pace down.  All in all, I think we had a great ride – despite the (now mandatory?) missed turn or 2.   Not sure how many riders we had, but a decent sized group for sure.  Always good to see familiar faces mixed with new ones too.  All of the crappy weather blew over, so anyone who missed the ride for fear of getting wet missed out on a dry ride.

We also gave people the option to climb or circumvent Glacier Hill (.65 mile long hill with a 3.8 % average grade) at the end of the ride .  Nice to have this option, depending on how you’re feeling.

As advertised, Denny Yunk and the TOTAL Mechanical crew bought beers at Seester’s afterward.  The idea of a post-ride beer sponsorship is a big hit with everyone.  If you are interested in sponsoring, let me know.  I have a stand-alone website in the works for our group as well that will help with the networking piece.

TOTAL Mechanical is southeast Wisconsin’s largest locally-owned, single-source mechanical contractor, offering services in heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and building automation systems. TOTAL Mechanical specializes in the design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, maintenance and repair of commercial, industrial and residential environmental systems. We’re online at www.total-mechanical.com. You can also follow us attwitter.com/totalmechanical and facebook.com/totalmechanical. For more information, contact Denny Yunk, TOTAL Mechanical’s Marketing Manager, at dyunk@total-mechanical.com

See you all July 13th – and tell your friends to come back, we’ll keep the pace fun!


1st Annual(?) Windy 500 ride: July 15-18


Are you in?

“The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest ?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use’.

–         George Leigh Mallory, 1922

The Windy 500: 125 miles a day for 4 days. 

Mowaukee to ‘da UP and back. 

Why?  Why not.

No registration.  No fees.  No support.  No worries!

As of May 25th, there are 4 participants.  If you’d like to tag along, all you have to do is say yes.  We’ll be making (cheap) hotel reservations soon, so unless you plan to sleep in a tent (which by the way is an acceptable option), let me know ASAP.

jasonkayzar@mc2wi.com

CASUAL PACE!!  This will not be a hammer-fest, we’ll match the pace of the slowest rider.

Stopping to sample any local culture (aka: beer) that looks good. 

This might be the last fun thing you ever do…