Why We Ride (sometimes I forget)


So, about 2 weeks ago, Blake asked me when we would be going to watch the “Halloween Race”.  Each of the past few years, he and I have gone down to Washington Park and watched Halloween Cross.  Just 2 guys hanging out doing guy stuff, no Moms or sisters.  Kids need to be 10 years old to actually compete in the sanctioned races, but I had forgotten about the “Kids’ Race”.  I looked online and sure enough; any kid, any age, any bike.  Once I told Blake about it, it was all over.  I think he asked me when the race was every 5 minutes for 2 weeks.  He couldn’t wait to wear his jersey (an XS that fits him like a dress), and his batting/catching/cycling gloves and get his race on.  

On race day it was pretty cold, so I gave him a skullcap to wear under his helmet, which he has worn around the house every minute since then.  He rode his sister’s old 24″ mountain bike with the seat all the way down, which makes him look a lot like Kermit the Frog on a bike.  He lined up with the rest of the kids and took off.  There were only 2 kids his age, most were younger on small bikes with training wheels.  Blake didn’t care.  He was there to race, and race he did!

At “GO” the kids took off, and it was ON!  For the adults it was cute, comical and just a fun sideshow to the real racing.  But to Blake, it was maybe more important than all the adults’ races that day.  Blake came to race, and whether he got 1st, 2nd or last, he planned to give it his very best effort.  It’s hard to remember just doing without thinking like that.  As adults we have tire choices, training regimes, nutrition, hydration, competition, course, etc.  Endless excuses and variables.  Blake had a bike and a race.  Start at the “Start”,  finish at the “Finish”.  Get a medal.

 He’s already planning his next races.  Blake DID get his medal that day.  So did every other kid – identical to his – except Blake’s is a first place medal.  I think he slept with it on for 2 days.

When’s the last time something meant so much to you that you slept with it?

“When you come to a fork in the road… Take it”


Now what?

I cranked up my training this year, made it through ToAD and the Windy 500, and then… nothing.

I have another Century to ride tomorrow, will probably do it on my track bike for fun, but I have no desire to finish out the WORS series or even do my first CX race.  The funny thing is, I don’t care.  And, I don’t care that I don’t care.   4,000 miles of riding/training and I’m ready to just ride my bike because I enjoy it.  What a revelation.

I think it really sank in on the 4th day of the Windy 500, our 4th day in a row of 120+ miles.  Thanks to my friend Mark calling me out, I finally realized that was still training.  This is a ride that I dreamed up, specifically to get out and ride for fun with friends, and after 3 days I was still dropping people.  Friends.  Who were just riding for the sake of riding.  Although they weren’t saying it out loud, I know they were thinking: “…what a dick!“.  Of course, I was oblivious to the whole thing – too concerned about the next Strava KOM, or how many more miles we could go without a rest stop.

It seems that September is always the time of year that I get tired of “training”.  Maybe it’s because I’m not training toward anything, I’m training away from stuff.  My biggest goal of 2012 was to be a “super-domestique” at ToAD.  Mission accomplished.  I moved up to singlespeed Comp at WORS, but I was so focused on ToAD that all I want to do this year is ride road bikes.  At first I was bummed, but then I realized… who cares?  Bikes are bikes.  Riding is riding.

In years past, I don’t think I ever “got it”.  I don’t think I ever made the connection.  There’s riding and there’s training, and you CAN have it both ways.  As I mentioned to another friend of mine, I was a late bloomer.  I’ve always ridden bikes, but I was never competitive until a couple of years ago.  So maybe I don’t have that history of being fast or racing to fall back on, I’m still building my resume.  Maybe that’s why I feel like I can’t let off the gas sometimes.  And maybe that’s why some people might think “…what a dick!”.

All I can say is: I’m sorry.  I get it now.  I get the “Crappy Bike Ride” and I get how Ronsta can crush it at WORS and then go out and do social rides in Waukesha with the same level of enjoyment.  I get how Russell can race track and commute to work on a 3 speed with a giant basket on the front and not see the difference.

I’m not the fastest guy out there, but I try really hard.  Maybe it’s time to be the slowest guy out there for a change.

2012 – The Year So Far…


2012 – 1,519 miles, 2 road races and the first WORS race: DONE.

Mountain bike racing is hard.  Iola was hard, and not fun.  I have done many rides and races that were really hard, but afterward I always felt good – a sense of accomplishment.  Iola was just hard.  When it was over, I was glad to be done.  My crappiest time ever, I probably wouldn’t even have made the Citizen podium.  Even worse, it was my debut in “Singlespeed Open” (Comp).  I’ve really been digging riding on the road for the past year, and I was considering skipping Iola and driving to LaCrosse for the Omnium.  Probably should have gone with that plan.  I’ve run a 32:16 for the past 3 years at Iola, same this year.  With all the peanut butter mud, that was a bad plan, but I got to the race too late to change it.  Mentally, I was never in this one.  I hadn’t realized how much I’ve been spinning a smaller gear this off-season and not working on power.  I’m really stoked to race ToAD this year, and Iola really didn’t help fire me up for WORS.  I race the Whitnall Spring Classic Crit in April and did the Masters 4/5 and Masters 3/4 back to back.  It was hard, but fun.  When I finished, I was stoked and looking forward to doing another road race.  Bump and Jump was way harder. 

The 69er is sitting in my garage, still packed with mud.  I can’t even get motivated to clean it.

I changed my mind… NOT fun today.

 Next up – the Bone Ride.

2012 ~ the year of the fat dude?


Maybe I should consider racing Clydes?

With the world coming to an end in just 353 days, I figured that I had better get a little scientific about my race plan this year.  For the last 2 years I’ve only averaged about 4,000 miles (that’s 6,400 Km for the roadies), but I’ve also managed to average a ride every other day (year-round).  I have never really done any focused training “program” and I tend to burn out halfway through the year.  My strategy has been ride whenever I can, and ride as hard as I can.  Usually that means quick, early morning rides before work.  No LSD miles in Spring, no recovery rides to speak of, no focus on weaknesses, in fact no focus at all.  

As much as it sucked to think about it, I picked up some training books and got a new HR strap for the Polar monitor collecting dust in my closet.  I structured a plan that will get me to peak fitness for ToAD, and leave me fresh enough to finish WORS too.  On paper it looks good, even though my mileage will go up by somewhere between 25 and 50% (depending on the end of season tapering).  The real challenge will be embracing a plan that makes me better without sucking the life and fun out of riding.  As far as my weight, I’m not a twig like most of the guys I’m racing.  I usually focus on gaining some weight in Fall/Winter, but this year I’ll focus on taking it off too.

Today felt good, but it’s Day 1.  Even crack addicts can probably stay focused for 1 day.  The real test will be my results and overall fitness this year, as well as avoiding mid-season burnout.

I’m excited about doing some real road racing this year, and moving up to SS Open @ WORS.  I’m not really built for the longer courses, so hopefully the focus on my weaknesses will pay off.  I might even try to dial in my diet a bit, although a quick Google search reveals that “cake” and “beer” are the top 2 diet choices among competitive cyclists.

Now, if I can just avoid crashing…

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.

2011 racing season – that’s a wrap!


AKA – the continuing evolution of a fat dude…

Here I am in summer of 2006.  Riding an old mountain bike on the road with my other fat old friends –  Bob Roll and Greg LeMond.  OK, we’re not really friends – just fat.  I had taken many years off of the bike, and was inspired to get back on for the Trek 100.  I did the 32 mile route that year.  Slowly.

My Official Return to Cycling - 2006

That was enough incentive to get me rolling again, literally.  I had so much fun, and it felt so good to be doing something I loved so much, I started making time to get on my bike.  Just a little at first – probably only did a handful more rides that year, but I did one very important ride: on the trails of the Southern Kettles.

My off-road skills were anemic, and that’s giving me more credit than I deserved, but I knew they were in there somewhere.  Covered with years of rust and beer and God knows what else.  I was slower than a stampede of turtles.  Hill-climbing?  That’s where my dominance really showed!  I could climb anything under 10 feet tall in less than an hour.  Maybe.

I rode a little more the following year, even got a road bike.  I remember telling my friend Mark how proud I was after a 15 mile ride where I had averaged 17 mph.  (This year I did a 161 mile “fun” ride and averaged 19.6mph).   Late that summer I was really starting to feel the mountain bike bug again.  My fitness was starting to shape up a little, and I had started trying to get out and ride a bit more.  The whole idea of a single-speed bike really seemed to make sense to me.  After all, I was a reformed BMXer – not a roadie.  On the road, I had nothing, but get me into some single-track and I could at least hold my own with stronger guys by riding smart.  In 2007, 29″ wheels were just starting to get some attention – most bikes sold  still had 26″ wheels.  Trek took a chance and produced a small run of Travis Brown inspired 69ers.

NOTE: When it comes to “stuff”, I am not a technical guy, I’m an impulsive guy.  I’ve never researched a major purchase.  I liked the idea of a single gear (only later did a I realize that you might need to change out the gears for different courses…) and I liked the idea of the 29er, but I wasn’t sold on it.  The 26″ riders liked the cornering and climbing of their bikes, the 29″ riders loved the way their bikes flew on the flats and rolled over everything at speed.  A 69er seemed to make sense so I bought one – without riding it.

2008 was the year that the MTB virus really took hold.  I started riding the singlespeed quite a bit, getting out to the Kettles or Crystal Ridge occasionally to grind out a few miles.

Fast forward to 2011:

2011 - Year of the fat boy!

My 2011 season started with the Burnham Racing Spring Super Criterium on March 26th, and yes, it was snowing when we started.  My 3rd road race ever, I managed to finish a respectable 13th in the Masters 4/5s and avoid getting crashed out coming into the sprint.  Did a few more road races and 5 WORS races.  Managed to get (3) 3rds, (1) 1st and (1) DNF, so 2012 will mean a move up to Singlespeed Comp/Open to get my butt handed to me.  Even though I raced less than I wanted to, I rode more than I thought I would (and I’m still riding of course).

2012 should be a great year for me.  I have a great Team that keeps getting better, and I’ll have more focus and more experience.  I plan to do more WORS racing, more ToAD and even a little CX.

As always, time will tell.

WORS #6 “Alterra Coffee Bean Classic” pre-ride report


82 degrees at 6am this morning – great morning to head over to Franklin and check out the Crystal Ridge trails.

Once again this year the Alterra team will host the Crystal Ridge WORS race and their crew along with the Metro Mountain Bikers have made the once “fun to ride but crappy to race” course into a legit WORS course.  It’s still one of the most technical races in the series, but over the past 2 years they’ve opened a lot more passing lanes and made the course a lot more “race ready” – especially for those of us with only one gear.  The biggest change this year is the elimination of the snaky switchback climb.  It has been replaced with a “straight up the backside” climb that is longer than you think.  The Team & MMB crew will be doing some more trail grooming tomorrow too if anyone’s available to help out.

Todd Somers from the Alterra team put together this summary of the 2011 course layout:

“No prolog lap. Up the hill and around the cap. There is a drag strip on top that will suck but should help to separate the milk from the cream. Then in the woods over to Alpha then back to CR up the west side of the hill and around to O’Malley’s on the south end (open spots again) out and back to the hill. Comp will go up the hill a bit but not to the top. Pave plunge is gone, then let it rip down the hill in the small intestine and back up the starting hill.”

Unfortunately, every year I forget how much fun this course is, and how close to home it is too.  I spent the second lap this morning picking bugs out of my teeth because I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  There are still about 7 million trees that seem to jump out at you around every corner, and the rain and (finally) sun have kicked the brush growth into turbo mode.  It’s hard to see what’s around every corner, and trust me there are more corners than you can count.  This morning I saw enough wildlife to load an ark, in fact I stopped and had a staring contest with a doe who was only about 10 feet away from me.

Do yourself a favor and get over to Crystal Ridge and ride it – or better yet, race it.  You are guaranteed to have a blast!