Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wind It Out

Two more good rides this weekend.

The wind on Saturday morning was a constant 20-25 mph. The kind of wind that used to just make me stay in and pour another cup of java and read more op-eds. Not Saturday. I headed out just after 6 am and rode right into the teeth of that wind for 22 miles. It was brutal, it was dull, it was good for my moral fiber.

And I laughed the whole way.

Then I turned around. The ride home I took a few detours making the total trip just over 50 miles.

Sunday I didn't get out until late afternoon and did almost the same course, sans a 4.5 mile out-and-back stretch on the western end. Again, the wind was there, but not as stiff. 41 miles in just over 2 hours.

One difference in my usually dull training rides out into farmland this year has been to add in what A&S weenies would lynch me for even mentioning. An MP3 player. Tunes on a ride! Very good company. As for the danger of the headphones? I don't buy it anymore. I can hear vehicles just as early as I did w/o music.

So the preparation for further goals continues. 90 more miles in the legs. Yum.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Odd Tuesday Night Ride

A few minutes before 6 pm. Great weather for a Tuesday night ride. Low 70s with a bit of chill in the air. Just add armwarmers and I’m good to go. Start w/ eight in the group. The usual fast rollout down the craters of the moon road.

Along the way, a few guys in club jerseys hop on.

By the time we hit around mile five, about two dozen riders sporting various local team kits jump in with us. I can sense the faster guys in our group are salivating, but not me. Unfamiliar riders on narrow somewhat busy rush hour streets make me skittish.

I end up somewhere in the middle of the pack at a major road crossing without any familiar faces.

I see our guys are off the front after the crossing, so I give chase. As they are way off in the distance, all I end up doing is dragging a bunch of faster riders with me, all of whom gradually pick me off and spit me out the back. Riders are over the center line cresting hills, rounding corners, jockeying for position, and I get a strange feeling this is not where I want to be.

I drop back, let the groups go, and then start to chase. The rest of the ride is just digging deep and working hard. By the second pass of the rollers and what passes for a big climb on the ride, my legs finally respond and I feel good riding with the remainder of our group who waited at the top of the climb.

All in all, a pretty fast ride, but another reminder that close quarters racing is not in my blood.

Can’t wait to do it again next Tuesday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Double or Nothing Recon

It was a busy weekend.

Saturday Arron and I found our way up to Cross Plains, Wisconsin, to ride. The trip had several goals. 1) Scout out the roads for a metric ride route we put together last year and are planning on having this year; 2) Get some good training in the legs for next month’s Bike Tour of Colorado; 3) Suffer up some steep hills; and 4) Enjoy some excellent coffee at the end.

From the outset of the drive up I-90, the skies were threatening. But we figured if we were going to end up on a week long ride in the Rockies that inclement weather might be a part of the deal. By the time we got to Cross Plains it was raining. Not bad, but enough to be miserable if it kept up all day. So we geared up and hopped on the bikes.

As we were leaving the lot of Uphill Grind Coffee & Bikes, the shop owner was pulling in and said, “You should have been here yesterday when the weather was perfect.” Yeah, thanks.

The rollout was a bit on the drizzly side, but by the time we finished the first few flat miles and headed into the hills, the rain stopped. Temps from there hovered between 48-52F for a good portion of the day. I was just uncomfortable enough to start the ride that I knew I had not overdressed.

The trunk roads in southwest Wisconsin that link the dairy farms to the main roads are not tall, but can get silly steep. Enough so that they are a grind to climb, but the far side of many are thrill ride descents. We lumbered along up Moen Valley, Sutcliffe, Zweittler, Pinnacle, and Lakeview. From the tops of a few you can see hulking Blue Mound off in the distance. That’s where we were headed.

After the 400 foot downhill on Ridge View, we got to Mounds Park Road, where we knew a time trial race happening. This one is a 10 mile TT called Alpe Bl’Huez. We checked with the guy waving riders the right way if it was okay for us to head up the road and he said it was open and go ahead. So we rocked it up the first big part of the road to Blue Mound State Park. We were passed by a guy on a full time trial bike. He was cooking. We were also passed by a young guy with a full beard on a regular road bike. As our day was going to be more than just this climb, we didn’t chase (not sure we could have done much on that, anyway).

Normally we’d take the final 200+ foot climb up into the park, but with the TT finish happening there we skipped that and headed down into the town of Blue Mounds to the General Store. The cold ham and cheese sandwich tasted pretty good. Arron felt he deserved a fudge round and he didn’t even count the calories.
Note the lit cig on the far end of the bench. It may or may not be Arron's.

I didn't win the lottery.

The little climb out of Blue Mounds up County Road F isn’t so bad, but after sitting down at the General Store for more than five minutes, the legs were wondering why they were being asked to turn pedals again. Mentally, though, this is not a bad climb because I know there is a wonderful four mile downhill on the other side of the crest.

The last few hills are some of the hardest. Could have been a combination of fatigue and ready to be done, but heading up Braun, Garfoot, Observatory, and then the optional (for our route) climb/descent of Barlow, I was really ready for a break.

The ride back down Barlow > Observatory > Garfoot back to Cross Plains was pretty chill and we even had a bit of a tailwind on the final flat mile into town on KP.

Here’s what the day looked like all graphed out for elevation

Back to the beginning. Uphill Grind is a fantastic little shop. We waited a few minutes for Michael to take care of closing the deal on a couple of townie bikes and then settled in for a hot drink as a reward for all the climbing. The cafĂ© au lait hit the spot. Could have done with another, but time didn’t allow. Arron had a cappuccino with like 8 shots in it. He was almost awake when we drove home.

Can’t wait to get back up there in a few weeks for the Double or Nothing Metric. Hopefully the weather is more sunny and about 15 degrees warmer. One can hope.

Oh yeah, we also stopped at Arby’s on the way back. ARBY’S!!