Moving On

The original purpose behind The Fourteen Percent Ride has long since been fulfilled. So, I've decided that Mighty Proud will be the last posting. It just seems right.

But, don't worry. Or maybe you should. In any event, I plan to continue. I'll keep riding. And writing. Click here to come along in my new blog ~ The Long White Line. <-- check it out!


As I've ridden for the last two years, I've picked up on the fact that Shirley, my darling wife, has been more worried about my safety than impressed with my "accomplishments." How do I know this? Well, when I'd come back and tell her, for example, that I'd hit 53.6 mph going down FO, she'd reply, "I don't want to hear it." Being the sensitive sort I figured out, after many such comments, that just maybe we were not on the same page here. But last week, she told me that she would "greatly reduce her focus on the 'fear for my safety' issue." We talked about the tour, looked at some maps, researched nutrition suggestions on the internet, and so on, just enjoying the idea of the ride. How nice is that? Thank you, Shirley!

Monday, April 30, 2007


Aero bars. That's the thing to beat the wind. Right. Bill loaned me a pair of aero-bars, devices that let you rest your elbows on pads while holding on to a bar sticking out ahead of the center of the handlebars. The primary purpose is to apparently make you about as unstable as you can be on a bike, every tiny movement of your hands being magnified into not so insignificant twitches in the direction in which the front wheel is pointing.

OK, so maybe, just maybe, they are supposed to force you into a more aerodynamic riding position. I took off towards Stoddard to give them a test. It was dicey getting into and out of them so I figured out right away that you wanted a long relatively straight, flat run to get the feel of it all. The wind was out of the east and I was sheltered by the bluffs a bit, but I think I could tell that the aerodynamics were more favorable. At Stoddard I turned towards Chaseburg. And found the wind. Just howling in the valley. It was hard to tell if the bars helped or not.

Wind can sap your strength. The force it applies increases with the square of the speed. That means that a 10 mph wind pushes with 4 times the force of one of 5 mph. At 20 mph, the resistance is a whopping 16 times that of the 5 mph breeze. So, every little bit of aerodynamic streamlining really pays off. I'll work at getting used to the bars.

I rode under partly cloudy skies as I pedaled to Chaseburg then back up to the top of County K. BUT, from this high point of the ride, I could look back towards La Crosse to see a really ugly dark sky. The wind was at my back and I got down the hill as fast as I could, racing towards home to beat the rain. I got home as it started to thunder and lightning. The rain came about 1/2 hour later. An eventful 31.2 miles.

Total ~ 705.8 miles.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Milestone and a Bad Break

Went out with Bill this morning after church. Today's 73.1 mile ride was a milestone. Two milestones, actually. First, the ride was longer than the shortest day of the Seattle to Missoula ride. Longer than TWO of the days actually (there are two 68 mile legs). And, I've now ridden farther this year than the tour's 605 mile total.

One insight I had after the ride on Saturday -- sunblock would have been a good idea. Took care of that today, although my head is now sun-tanned in the pattern of the holes on my helmet. We rode up over the Mindoro cut, through West Salem and headed for Coon Valley. West Salem to Coon Valley was an awful leg. I was weary, hadn't eaten well today and just struggled along and up Highway 162. We caught a break with the wind, however and at Highway 33 decided we would continue on to Coon Valley. Things seemed to be going better. Just a little, though.

That did not last long. A few miles from Coon Valley, one of my shifter levers broke, leaving me in the big ring. I thought, "That's OK, at least to finish out the ride to Coon Valley -- no hills. However, the derailleur was not all the way out and rubbing on the chain so I finally shifted down (I could do that, but could not shift back up). Now what? I figured that I could ride to Chaseburg and on to Stoddard then up the river to La Crosse without needing to shift down, using only the gears on the cassette. I suggested that Bill take off and ride as he wished, but he set his gear on the middle ring and took the loop with me.

We had not a bad ride after that. It rained just a bit about a mile out of Stoddard and that really felt good. Wind was not a factor -- helpful, even -- on the way up the river.

I had planned to have the bike in to the shop during the week of May 7 (I'm going to be in Tyler, Texas for 3 days), but now I'll just drop it off on Monday and ride the Bianchi until I get it back. It's always good to lose some weight for riding and I know this will help. Although the loss will be only from the wallet.

Total ~ 674.6 miles

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Bee in my bonnet

Just outside of Coon Valley a bee got into my helmet and proceeded to act like it did not really want to be there. Since I shared this sentiment, I quickly stopped and removed my headgear. The hitch-hiker made a beeline away from the scene, as relieved to be gone as I was to have him on his way under his own power, stinger still attached.

Today's ride was 67.1 miles. Only 0.9 miles shy of the shortest leg of the Seattle-Missoula ride. Man, do I have a way to go to get ready. It was, however, a beautiful day. Wonderful scenery out in the rural areas east of La Crosse.

The route took me up the bluffs along Bliss Rd., around to Barre Mills, up again on County II to Anthony Rd. Then it was to Hwy 33 which I followed out to Portland. County Roads X, H, G and P got me to Coon Valley. Then 162 to Stoddard and 14 back to La Crosse. The wind was at my back on the ride to Portland. The highest part of the ride was on X, where the wind was coming at my right shoulder with such force that I was actually leaning into it to stay on the road. Coon Valley to La Crosse meant riding mostly into the wind.

I wondered during the ride, "Where does all this wind come from?" I like to think deep thoughts such as this while riding. There must be some place where the people are gasping for breath, most of their air having been sent to La Crosse to vex bikers.

Total ~ 601.5 miles

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weekend warmup

A really nice day for a ride, but cooler than I expected. I went out at lunchtime so I could do some chores this afternoon -- change furnace filters, check and lube garage doors and fertilize the yard. Normally Saturday tasks, but it promises to be really good weather for a ride tomorrow. Today, a 20 mile ride, up the bluff again and over to 33. Side trips, too, like up Ebner Coulee, a bit of a climb and an extra 1.7 miles.

Total ~ 535.4

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday special

Bob, one of the engineers in my group at work, related this story to me today. He and his wife have apparently been talking about my upcoming ride. Turns out she works with someone who has ridden extensively. When she mentioned that I was going to do one leg of a cross-country ride, he asked, "Which part would that be?" She told him it was Seattle to Missoula, to which he replied, "He's nuts!" Later, Shirley asked me how that made me feel. Well, it seems as if Bob's wife's friend knows me!

AND... check out the departure count-down clock. It is working its way down to 5:06 a.m. on June 16, 2007, the scheduled departure time of our flight to Minneapolis.

Beat the rain

Weather report for today was rain in the afternoon, so I took off for a noon ride. It was quite cool and windy on the 17.6 mile round trip up to the top of the bluffs, along the ridge to Hwy 33 and back with a couple of side loops to add distance. On the ride, I was flagged down by two ladies who were studying a map. They had come up the Bicentennial Trail and were looking to get to the trail to go back down. They had made a wrong turn and were nearly to County F. I sent them back -- they had an extra "loop" in their trek too.

Yes, it did rain in the afternoon.

Total ~ 515.4 miles.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Back at it

Man it was cool on the ride tonight! A north wind this time. Rode up Bliss Rd., through Barre Mills to the top of II and Anthony Rd. then back. This meant climbing FO, something I haven't done in a few days. Not too bad. On the way up Bliss, I actually passed three young guys on mountain bikes. The mountain bikes were their handicap; mine is being 58 years old. But I do have a good bike, or, as one of the guys said, "nice ride." Then, on the way up II, I went by three riders on horseback. I knew how the horses felt.

Did not count dead animals on this trip.
37.5 miles today. Total ~ 497.8

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Not intentionally. Rained out. OK, so it will rain in Washington, I know. This would have been a good chance to "feel the rain." Oh well, there will be other chances, I'm sure. Total stays at 460.3 miles.

Not actually riding gives me the chance to ponder riding a bit. First thought: I've about ridden enough now that the seat is starting to fit. If you take a look at the picture in the first post of this blog, you'll see that this is just one more of the scary aspects of riding!

Another thought on having ridden enough (too much?) -- as I walk to work in the mornings I find myself glancing up and to the left to see the traffic coming up behind me. Problem is, I only have the mirror when I'm on the bike. I haven't, however, tried to clip my feet onto the accelerator and brake pedals in the car. Yet.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bad Day for Snakes

Having recovered a bit from the ride yesterday, I did the 31.5 mile Stoddard, 162, K (with the trip up the hill on Wrobel Rd) ride. Along 162 out of Stoddard I went by 8 dead snakes in a stretch of about 3 miles. Total mileage ~ 460.3

No, I don't know why I started counting them...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Supplement

In April of 2006, Bill and I were in Uganda with Samuel, a Ugandan native living now with his family in Wisconsin. We saw many people riding there. Long distances and often with heavy loads. We saw one young boy, much too small for the bike he was in command of. But he found a way to ride. The slide show below has some bike related pictures. One is of this young lad and his unique riding style; then, there are a couple showing bikes used to carry large loads.

The fourth picture is of a group of happy people with new bikes, the ubiquitous Ugandan Roadmaster. These are teachers at Aturukuku Primary School in Tororo, Uganda. During our visit we were told that this school of 350 students (nearly half AIDS orphans) had no electricity, no water and no library. We were also informed that the 13 teachers all walked to and from work every day, some long distances. If we could help the school provide them with bikes...

So, we came back and started a campaign to raise funds. We needed about $850. Not $850 per bike, $850 total. This is just a "wee bit" less than we each had paid for our bikes. It was an exciting day when we were able to send the funds to the school. In September, there was a ceremony to hand over the bikes for the teachers' use. The mayor of Tororo Town and other dignitaries came to participate. It was quite an affair, apparently. At the ceremony, the mayor expressed gratitude that strangers had provided this gift. In response, he promised that the city would see to it that electricity was connected to the school building. Also, there was a small amount of money left over from the funds sent for the bikes which was used to get a water connection. Now we are working on providing a copier and a library. If you would like to help in the endeavor to assist this school, leave a comment or drop me an email at

Terrifying Ride Updated

Going down FO, I reached 50.2 mph. Terrifying? Well, no. I have a good bike and pretty much know how to do the hill. But then there was County OA. Flat, fairly straight. And I was pedaling easily in high gear. Going nearly 30 mph. Now, there are only two possible explanations for this. One, I was ready to challenge Lance or, two, there was a significant tailwind pushing me along. You guess which one. Terrifying? I knew, unless I just rode to Madison, that I would eventually turn around and ride INTO the wind. It was a great 28 mile ride through Barre Mills, up over II and into West Salem and Linda's Bakery -- one good reason to ride. BUT, heading back it was 15 brutal miles of wind. Add saddle sores and, well... 43.1 miles today, 428.8 total.

The update
It turns out that Bill, who'd been on vacation all week, got out on the road Sunday. Here is his report:

"I rode 73 miserable miles yesterday. The wind destroyed me. At one point a dog chased me. It was a 3 legged dog and was going faster than me. It was a horrible ride and I cramped badly. I figure that as there is not time to get in shape I must work on my suffering."

Now, doesn't this all sound like ever so much fun!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Coulee Region Tour

Well, got it right. Windy. But a beautiful day for a ride so I was off at 8:30. It was a good 58 mile ride and, apparently out of sympathy for my fighting the wind, my bike was very well-behaved. No throwing chains or loosing tire inflation. Mileage total: 385.7

The slide show below documents the ride...see, this is a pretty great place to watch the scenery from behind the handlebars.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Short Ride

A short ride today -- 15.2 miles during my lunch hour. Pretty good, though, considering I was planning to take the day off. The 2007 total is now 327.6 miles.

Here's a scary forecasts "windy" for Saturday. It hasn't been windy yet?

Cleaned both bikes tonight and fixed the flat on my Bianchi (which I ride in bad weather). Trek was in pretty good shape, but really looks good now. Can't ride any better than I can, though, clean or not.

Another riding observation. Bill gave me a magazine last year that had an article about Riding the Flats. What I've learned, however, is that there are no flats, only roads with hills you never noticed until you saw them from behind the handlebars of your bike.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Catching Up

I started riding this year on March 10, but that didn't take. Now, I've ridden 11 of the last 19 days and the pace is increasing. It has been cool and windy in early April. There have been rides up Bliss road, returning to the County FO climb. South along the river to Stoddard, back to Chaseburg and over the hill on County K. Riding through places like Barre Mills with its Hayfield gas station / mini-store / restaurant, Coon Valley, Chaseburg and Stoddard. Later, I'll expand to Portland, and Cashton. Then, for the centuries, Tomah or Prarie du Chien.

Today was pleasant as I left home at 4 p.m. Windy as usual here. On the way up the first hill, my chain parted company with the chain ring and become TIGHTLY wedged between the inner ring and frame. I had to take the rear wheel off before I got everything back in order. Hills, wind and now even my bike joined in on the grief-giving. Part of the training, I guess.

A 32 mile late afternoon round-trip. Uphill all the way. Every one of my rides was apparently designed by Escher.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Decide to Ride

I said to Bill, “That sounds like a good idea. We’ll wear tights, brightly colored jerseys, short socks that clash with said jerseys, put on shoes we can’t walk in -- and that clash with both the socks and jerseys -- and top it all off with a hard hat full of holes.” All this so we can plant our butts on hard seats no wider than a fence rail and pedal our way up mountains, through rain and, with a little luck, snow, across deserts and, well, you know, lots of fun things like that.

So, the plan was hatched. A bike tour (that’s bicycle, the kind without the motor). Out west, because the mountains are higher there. We finally decided on the Seattle, Washington to Missoula, Montana leg of Cycle America’s 2007 Coast-to-Coast ride. Bill has done about all there is to do in the way of rides. Me, this will be the first. Seemed logical, then, to do the “first leg” of something.

The entire coast-to-coast ride is accomplished in nine 1-week stages. And what is unique about this leg, except for its being first? Well, it is the LONGEST. By almost 100 miles! Six hundred five miles in 7 days of riding. Eighty-six miles per day on average. I thought this would be the right ride because…? Must have been the Chimay.

So, here I am, about 2 months until day 1 of the ride. I’ve started training, haven ridden 280 miles this month. Eighteen days into April and I have yet to put in even half the distance of the ride. What was I thinking? That I love a challenge, maybe? And this is. A challenge.