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!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


When I was young, my family visited a Mystery Spot in St. Augustine, Florida. Does this ring a bell with any of you? Anyway, the Mystery Spot is a “gravitational anomaly,” a place where water runs uphill and you can sit on the wall; cool stuff like that. I was impressed with the visit to the Florida site and wondered, “How is all this possible?” A little research showed that there are some very logical explanations. Consider this, taken from the web site of the Santa Cruz, California Mystery Spot:

“Some speculate that cones of metal were secretly brought by aliens and buried here to serve as guidance systems for their spacecraft. Some think that it is, in fact, the spacecraft itself buried deep within the ground.”

That was pretty much what I’d been thinking myself. Further exploration into the phenomena revealed that there are a whopping 31 Mystery Spots in the United States. California and Texas are tied for the most “spots” at 3 each. Texas because it is so large, although there are none reported yet in Alaska, and California because, well, it’s California. There is one cited in Wisconsin – called the Wonder Spot in Lake Delton – but it reportedly closed in 2006. I guess the aliens came and took their stuff.

I’m sure by now you are wondering what all of this has to do with biking, right? Well I am here to tell you that I think Wisconsin can rightly claim at least a tie with California and Texas for the most mystery spots, because I personally have discovered three during rides right here in the Coulee Region. Gliding down a nice descent on County Y, near the earthen dam mentioned in the May 28 post, the steep down-grade looked to ease up just a bit. As I coasted along, I noticed I was slowing down at a rapid rate, so I began to pedal. And I really had to push to keep the bike going, pedaling and going slower. But I looked at the road and it was still going downhill. I’m sure of it. A mystery. There are spots like this in the lower part of the descent down County K going towards the Mississippi and just before beginning the climb on County M. Downhill grades according to the eyes, but requiring some vigorous pedaling to keep from actually going backwards. Real mystery spots. Keep a weather eye out; I think the aliens will be coming in force any day now.

Needing to devote considerable time and mental energy to this research, I did not ride today.

Total ~ 1674.0 miles

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Did you see yesterday's post? Well, ditto. The ride part, anyway. As for the other part, forget the ditto -- today was a better day. Much better. Among other things, the credit card issue is already sorted out as UPS delivered new cards early in the afternoon. I shouldn't have really needed new cards, but I guess I'll have to say I was impressed with the service that had them here less than 24 hours after I spoke to a representative at Citi.

Being only slightly redundant: I took the same ride as yesterday, with the same observations. After a brief threat of rain, it turned out once again to be a beautiful evening. My schedule won't allow me to ride tomorrow so I've started a load of biking clothes in the wash. They'll be ready to go on Friday and I'm OK with a day of rest.

Total ~ 1674.0 miles

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

One of Those Days

It was "one of those days." Just sort of dragging along. A feeling like something missing*, an out-of-sorts sort of day. Maybe it was a three day weekend with two good rides then being back in the office on a nice day. But to top it off, there was a snafu with a credit card that I had to sort out late in the day. It's a long story and I won't go into it here. But what will happen is a week or two of inconvenience. Oh well.

* if you find it, let me know!

So, back to riding. When I got home I was debating with myself about going out. I won and got on the bike and headed south. The plan was a short, easy ride. I think it is what you would call a recovery ride. A thunderstorm had moved through town earlier, but is was a wonderful afternoon. About 6 miles from home, I turned on Mohawk Valley Road and headed up the hill. Trees are fully leafed-out and the winding road is shaded and cool. A little way from the highway, the road starts up, clinging to one side of the hill. Trees rise up and hang over the road on my left. To my right, the hill falls away into a valley with a small stream. I sit up straight, hold the top of the handlebars and enjoy the ride. Thinking about, well nothing except that it is good to be riding. At the top, the road winds around numerous farms perched on the high ridge. I roll along for a few miles then come up on the church mentioned in yesterday's post. A long descent down County K, a short run back up the river, a side trip to Subway and home, another 23.6 miles. Not so much training today as therapy. I feel better. It was one of those days.

Total ~ 1650.7 miles

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Bang! Bang! We were right out in the open and taking fire! The area at the top of County K is rural, but the road is busy and not a place for shooting. The situation was quickly revealed, however, when we crested the ridge at the church. There we saw a color guard in the cemetary, standing down after having fired a salute in honor of fallen comrades. A touching moment. "Thank you," to the families of those who gave so much for all of us.

Bill and I headed down the hill and rode east through Chaseburg and out the rolling County Roads O and Y. It was a gray morning, but not really threatening rain. Comfortably cool. The countryside provides us a fascinating ride. Farms, horse-drawn buggies and plows here and there. Wildflowers in evidence all around. Rounding a curve, a small lake nestled against a hill rolls into view. The road goes over the earthen dam that creates the lake which is occupied today by numerous fishermen taking advantage of the holiday.

Somehwere around one-third of the way through the 90.1 mile ride, we sweep through Avalanche. A don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it (even on a bike) settlement at the intersection of County Roads Y and S. We followed the valley around past rocky outcroppings on one side and a winding stream on the other. The road ended at County P where we headed back to the west, arriving at Coon Valley just in time to see that the parade was over, people moving on to the day's other activities. Included in this exodus was a lady in a cart drawn by a minature horse. Is this a great place or what!?

The last 34 miles were a bit more of a struggle through more beautiful, but also more familiar, country. Up to Antony Road, down II, up FO, down Bliss Road and home. And that was it. The Memorial Day, 2007 ride.

Total ~ 1627.1 miles

Sunday, May 27, 2007

On Riding

Seek only roads without hard climbs
And miss the view from the high ridgelines

Avoid pushing your bike up the long, steep hills
But don’t expect a descent with all of its thrills

Look for byways with no wind in your face
And you’ll not get a push when your path you retrace

Instead set out with the one thought in mind
That wonder and beauty on this ride you will find

The aches and pains will soon fade away
But not the memories of a challenge filled day

They were investments made to get to that place
That now recalled, leaves a smile on your face

No riding today, just rest and reflection on the
state of my achy legs. And anticipation of the
long ride on Monday.

Total ~ 1537.0 Miles

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some Days are Harder Than Others

Some days are hard. Today was one of those days. It was an achy-leg day. A long-sleeves cool, hard to get loose day. Bill and I rode, me holding him back most of the way. Until the end. He took off for home, at my suggestion, about 10 miles out. Still, I got in 61.1 miles for a total of 122.8 in the last 24 hours.

Shifting on the Trek was a little wonky. That's a technical term for you non-bikers. Maybe it's the new cables. My plan is to have the shifting checked again the week before we leave. Speaking of leaving, that's three weeks from today. I feel pretty good about the big ride, in spite of not feeling so great on today's miniature one.

Here's my plan for postings about the ride itself. No computers on the trip, so I'll keep an old-fashioned journal. You know, pencil on paper. When I return, I'll post each day of the ride separately, one day at a time. Then, I suppose, some sort of a wrap up. I'll review, update this plan on the last post before I pack up and leave. You know, that's only three weeks from now! Did I already say that?

Total ~ 1537.0

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lifted Up

Bill sent an email this morning. Said I could get adaptors to fit the aerobars to my handlebars. That seemed a good idea to me, so I did a little research. Saw some at an online outlet and thought, "Now those things look very familiar." What I was looking at were the parts that came with my aerobars that were identified in the packaging as "lifters," to use to raise the bars a bit compared to the direct-mount height. There was no mention of the fact that they were also sized for 31.8 mm. That explained the shims that came in the box. If you wanted to use the lifters to lift on a 25.8 mm handlebar, you'd need to adapt down. I don't know if the lifted position will matter much to me, but since I won't be able to try both un-lifted and up-lifted, I'll just pretend the latter is normal. And, I think I'll be able to mount the bars just outside of the computer mount and still be OK.

Speaking of lifting, I rode up to the ridge tops at various places 5 times. Two times up Bliss Road at midday, then Bliss, County II and County FO this evening. Total of 61.7 miles on a really nice Fall day in Wisconsin.

Total ~ 1475.9 miles

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good News, Bad News

What can I say? It was a mixed bag today. My Trek is now at home, repaired and ready to roll. That’s good. It was stormy early this afternoon so there was no riding. Not good. To celebrate the return of the Trek, I called Shirley and said we’d go out tonight – Ciatti’s. Nothing wrong with that. After dinner, we went home, I got out the new aero bars and started the installation process. Now it gets bad again. They DO NOT FIT! The handlebar diameter is much larger than can be accommodated by the what should-be mating parts. Good grief. Just when I thought I'd figured most everything out. Should have known about sizing. I have three jerseys that are sized M, L and XXL. They all fit the same. This is not the same situation, of course. I've learned that handlebars can be 25.8 mm or 31.8 mm in diameter. It seems as if many of the aerobars will provide means to fit either. The set that I got do not. Six millimeters, less than a quarter of an inch. So near. Yet so far.

In addition to this pretty major setback, the fancy computer has so many leads that are under the handlebar tape, with no slack, that I couldn’t get it out onto the aero bars even if I could get them on. When (if) I get a new set of bars, I'll have that to deal with, too. Oh, well, nothing to do now but get this sorted out. Stay tuned to see what I’ll do to recover from this predicament.

The new shifters and cables on the Trek make everything work smoothly. Better than ever, I think. I've only cecked them out at the shop with the bike up on a stand. I am eager to get out on the road to see how everything feels. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice and maybe I’ll do the baseball thing. A rainout today means a day-night double header tomorrow. Ride at noon, ride again after work. Play ball!

Total ~ 1414.2 miles

Check out comment #1 for this post and you'll find a blog-in-a-blog, aka bloglette, thanks to Shirley.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Last Time?

The Bianchi carried me up the hill (I think it was actually the other way around, but I'm going to get sentimental here and it sounds better this way) two times today. And down. In the rain at the end. For what might be the last time before the trip. My Trek is to be ready tomorrow. The Blue Angel bike has now been with me for 769 miles of my training. More than I'll ride on the trip, more than half of the riding I've done this year. But if I do, in fact, get the Trek, then I'll hang up the Bianchi. With a thank you for yeoman service.

So, I bailed out yesterday because of the rain. Of course, it was really because of that force I mentioned in the Last Word on Wind post, the pull of the easy chair. The Braves did beat the Mets though!!

I was pressed for time today -- meetings at work and tonight for our 2008 Dominican Republic mission trip leadership. I got in only 15.3 miles, but there was the rain. And two climbs up Bliss Road with a slow descent the second time down the hill due to wet roads. Short, but interesting.

Total ~ 1414.2 miles

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Plans They are A-Changin'

Leaving the 3 1/2 hour meeting, I headed to my desk to pack up, head home and get in a short ride. Glistening walkways outside the window provided the first hint that maybe it wouldn't happen. But, it wasn't raining as I walked into the parking lot and it seemed as if the skies were going to accomodate. A dark gray high haze was settled to the north, but blue skies were pushing through broken clouds overhead. I got home and found the new shorts I ordered had arrived. Adding a yellow, gray and black jersey and my Pearl Izumi socks that have a design reminiscent of the London Tube map (tube socks?), I was ready to go. Except that the sky had turned dark and threatening again. Recalling the line from the Bob Dylan song alluded to in the post title, "And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone," I made my decision: I changed out of my riding clothes, got something to eat and waited for the Braves' game to come on. Did I mention that my legs are tired and that I am not terribly disappointed to be sitting here at the moment?

Click the image for a larger view. This should be especially exciting considering the dirty sock.

Well, since we have some time to spare and since I mentioned the Tube, here are 3 little known things about the London Underground:

  • There is only one tube station name which does not have any letters of the word "mackerel" in it - St John's Wood.

  • There are only two tube stations which have all five vowels in them - Mansion House and South Ealing.

  • Considering there are 287 tube stations, things 1 and 2 are quite surprising.

  • Get your fill of Tube info at There are 47 more Little Known Things in a list at this site.

    Total ~ 1398.9 miles

    Monday, May 21, 2007


    Three climbs on the ride tonight. And three descents. My first 50 mph rush down FO in quite a while. And, at about the 39 mile mark of the 45.2 mile ride that had taken me through Barre Mills and West Salem, the first FO climb in that same while. The evening: beautiful.

    Total ~ 1398.9 miles

    Click to enlarge...

    Sunday, May 20, 2007


    I've heard it said that you should listen to your body. So today I listened. It was saying, "Don't even think about getting on a bike." "OK," I replied. Then I heard another voice. "You've been talking about getting back to hill riding ever since you had that problem with your bike. Now that you know you can shift, get out there and ride up a hill." "Yes, dear." That's what I always say when Shirley offers me a suggestion. So I dressed, warmly as dictated by the cool, damp weather, and sought out the nearest hill -- Bliss Road up the bluff. It was fitting that as I started the ascent on my blue angel, the blue and yellow Bianchi, the Navy Blue Angels roared overhead. The ride wasn't bad at all. In fact, I did the climb three times and rediscovered one of the things I'd missed in the last two weeks. No, not the climbs -- the descents. It is a rush, dropping down on the handlebars and negotiating the winding road. It's nice to be back on the hills.

    A total of 24.7 miles with 3 climbs. And as I finally headed home, I listened to the sound of the Blue Angels' F/A-18's as they took off, one at a time, and headed for their next show.

    I had not planned to ride today. But my personal trainer had other ideas. I'm glad I listened.

    Total ~ 1353.7 miles

    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    Part I - Bring on the Hills

    OK, I've been nursing the Bianchi along using only the big ring since May 5 when there was an "event" when I shifted up while riding through West Salem. Since the Trek was in the shop (and is there yet), I didn't want to risk shifting. Fully expecting the Trek to be ready to ride "any day now", I did the river-route thing with the Bianchi. Today after the 67.3 mile ride to Westby I took it in to see if there was something that could be done. A quick check revealed that it seemed to be shifting OK. Being reluctant to commit another bike to disassembly, I decided to to go with it. Tomorrow, weather and other things permitting, I'll go back to the hills.

    Part II - Detritis
    You see stuff along the side of the road when you ride, the detritis of the highway. Flattened fauna are a constant, but there are other things that you notice. Banana peels. Quite a few. Bikers, I think. Not too surprising, I guess, are bungee cords. Seems as if they tend to let loose frequently as loads are hauled along the highways. Might be a good commodity to invest in. More surprisingly, you see a lot of gloves. What's that all about? A unique find today, though. Riding past the Westby Ski Jump hill, I met Bill coming down from the direction of Westby. He'd done the hills and was headed to Coon Valley. I was within a mile of where I was going to turn around anyway, so I reversed and we rode back to Coon Valley then on to Chaseburg, Stoddard and back to La Crosse. You never know what detritis of the highway you'll encounter on a ride.

    Total ~ 1329.0 miles

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    The Last Word on Wind

    I won’t mention the wind again. After this post. Really. I think. For this last wind post, I thought I’d provide some math you could use. If you ride.

    You have to pedal to overcome the forces that would like to keep you planted in one place. The forces at work are friction, gravity and wind resistance. There is, of course, also the attraction of the easy chair and a cold drink, but we’ll save an analysis of that force for a future posting. And, to further limit our scope, we’ll only talk about wind resistance here, leaving friction and gravity (i.e. hills) for another day when I don’t ride. Didn’t ride today, by the way.

    The force that a wind moving at a speed V exerts on a rider is approximated by this really useful equation:

    F = 0.5 x C x A x d x V x V

    A is the frontal area of the object that the wind pushes on and d is the density of the air. C is a factor that accounts for the aerodynamics of the bike and rider. Engineers determine this factor by a careful process of experimentation which produces ambiguous enough results that, in the end, they just have to guess. An agreed upon “reasonable” value for C is 0.5. A highly streamlined bike and rider would be represented by lower values. A rider carrying a sheet of plywood crossways to the wind would be given much higher values of C. It is also generally accepted (I checked on one web site) that the area A is about 0.5 square meters for bike and rider. So the rider with the plywood gets hit twice: higher C and a much larger A. I guess that’s why you don’t see too much plywood toting amongst cyclists. Except in Uganda.

    Then we have the density. For air at sea level, d = 1.22 kilograms per square meter. As an apparent reward to bikers who climb big hills, God let the density go down with altitude. At 1500 meters, it is a whooping 20% lower than at sea level. Density is also lower on hot days. So, why is it so hard to climb a hill on a 90 degree day?

    As noted in an earlier post, the force exerted by the wind increases as the square of the speed, V x V. See, it is in the equation. But that’s not the whole story. I know you are asking yourselves, “How much effort is required to move against this force?” Glad you asked. The work (that’s a technical term) is the force times distance moved. The power (another technical term) required is the force times the distance per unit of time. I know most of you have already figured this out, but distance per unit time is speed, or V. So the power or rate we use energy to move through the wind is F x V. Notice how bad this gets. The power, which is measured in calories – see where we are going with this? – increases with the CUBE of the speed or V x V x V. So, we need to stoke the furnace with 8 times more calories to move in a 10 mph wind than it takes if the wind is 5 mph.

    We are almost done. The last detail is this speed V. It is, of course, the RELATIVE speed between the air and the biker. If you are riding at a speed of Vyou and you have a headwind of Vwind, then V=Vyou+Vwind. Bummer. But if, in the rare case when the sun, moon and all the planets (including that new one they found recently) align over Cadott, Wisconsin and you have a tailwind, V=Vyou-Vwind. You can see in this unlikey event that if you are moving at 15 mph with a 15 mph tailwind, V=0 and you owe NOTHING to the wind. Oh well, no sense pondering the impossible. Well, highly improbable.

    So, there you have it. Useful math. Enjoy. Oh, yes, there WILL be a test!

    Total ~ 1261.7 miles

    Thursday, May 17, 2007


    Am I blue? Nope. Blue skies and Blue Angels overhead. What a day. The Navy's elite are here for the weekend Deke Slayton Airfest and were practicing today. Awesome. Check out Airfest in the SOME LINKS.... section in the sidebar.

    My all time favorite music/video is Van Halen's Dreams played over footage of the Blue Angels in action, this put together for the Blue Angels' 40th Anniversary. Best thing about this video is that it has the Angels flying the A4 Skyhawk. The F/A-18's of today's team are amazing machines, to be sure, but I like the Skyhawk. The pictures at the end of this post were grabbed from the video.

    Today really was a blue sky day and again cool enough to appreciate the long sleeves. Only dark cloud? There was a chance my Trek would be ready today, but alas, no call from the shop. But my Bianchi is blue. And I have bright yellow wrap on the handlebars. Blue and yellow, like the Blue Angels. So it was fitting, I guess, that I rode it again today, 55 miles, once again on the river route.

    Total ~ 1261.7 miles

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    The 90% Part

    I rode at noon and did not really want to ride this evening. It was cool, very windy and threatening rain again. But as Yogi Berra is purported to have said, "90% of baseball is half mental." Suppose the same goes for bicycling. So here was a chance to work on the mental part. I won't get to pick and choose whether or not to ride during the tour. I suited up (long sleeved base layer under the jersey) and took off.

    I may be making some progress -- I felt very good upon finishing the ride. It's do-it-yourself dinner night, so I stopped at Subway on the way home. Did you know that the back pockets on bike jerseys are just the right size for a 6" sub? Well, now you do.

    Wildflowers are popping up along the highways now, adding another dimension to the pleasure of being out on a bike. The Red-Winged Blackbirds are also out. I expect to get dive-bombed any day now. These guys are territorial in the spring and will crash into your helmet if you invade their territory. I noticed that there was one bird on about every 15th guardrail post along Highway 35. Apparently that defines the size of the realm that they can guard against intruders such as the yellow-jerseyed, black-bottomed bicyclist.

    Total ~ 1206.7 miles

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Coming Home

    Shirley is coming home from her week-long visit in Atlanta. Her flight arrives at 5:35 p.m. I'll be there. No riding today!

    Total ~ 1159.1 miles

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Wind and Rain

    This was the windiest day so far. Coming from the SW at 20 - 30 mph. Just right for a headwind going southbound along the river. First ride of the day was a 20.6 mile round trip to Stoddard at noon. The ride south was not as hard as I expected and I think the aero bars helped. Coming back was a 22 mph rush along the 7 mile stretch of Hwy 35 with the stiff wind helping all the way. This evening I returned to Stoddard against the same headwind. From there it was up 162, riding mostly with the wind to Chaseburg. I reversed the route for a 34.1 mile ride. About 5 miles from home, I noticed the skies darkening. The weather changed quickly and with 3 miles to go it thundered and started RAINING. Soaked, I rolled into the garage thinking, "At least I don't have to water the newly transplanted plants." And I finally got in a little rain-riding.

    Total ~ 1159.1 miles

    Sunday, May 13, 2007


    In the comic strip Frazz, we meet a janitor at an elementary school who is, among other things, a philosopher and bike rider. Of course, all cyclists are philosophers; they have to be to rationalize such irrational activities as wearing clothes that would keep you out of many reputable business establishments and using a very efficient mode of transportation for exercise, expending much energy over a period of many hours moving around the countryside only to end up, in most cases, right back where you started.

    Anyway, Frazz is giving counsel to one of the students who tells him as he looks at a book, "This Horace guy says possessions don't make you happy." Frazz answers, "I agree, possessions don't make me happy. Moments make me happy." The young lad looks at him and says, "But you possess a bicycle!" Frazz replies, "It's still the moment that makes me happy. The bicycle just helps me arrive there." The young boy points out, "You possess a $3,000 bicycle." To which Frazz answers, "I like to arrive at that moment very fast."

    Sure, I ride for exercise. But mostly I ride for the moments. For the challenge of a hard climb and the thrill of a rapid descent. Admiring blue skies over the dark waters of the Mississippi River. Watching a turkey strutting across the road or a fox loping along beside you. Riding up and down the undulating land of the Amish country around Cashton where you encounter friendly people out and about in their black buggies. My $3,000 bike gets me to those moments efficiently. And fairly quickly, too, when I’m up to it!

    A day off today.

    Total ~ 1104.4 miles

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Powerful Pullers

    Riding down the river again, getting lots of practice in the big ring. Saw 16 trains going by on the 112.4 mile trip to Prairie du Chien and back. Powerful locomotives pulling long strings of cars, mostly loaded with containers. I visited the GE Locomotive manufacturing plant in Erie, PA a couple of years ago - business trip. Massive machines. Sixteen cylinder diesel engines with pistons as big around as a basketball. The crankcase holding over 400 gallons of oil. The diesel engine drives a generator, providing power to the electric motors, one for each wheel. We even got to take a ride on one of the locomotives on a test track at the GE facility.

    I also went by two tows during the ride. I'm not as fast as the trains, but I could pass the tugs pushing their barges along the river. You see a lot when you ride. If you aren’t pulling up a long, hard hill, when pretty much all you see is the asphalt going slowly by your front wheel. It was a spectacular day. Deep green trees on the Minnesota side, blue skies reflecting in the dark Mississippi waters. This is why I don’t ride a fat tire Schwinn and drag a brick around the block.

    Total ~ 1104.4 miles

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    River Run

    Just like the "Old Man*" himself, I just keep rolling along. Or maybe I'm Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' on the river...? In any case, it was another ride along the river tonight. Heading south, riding was a breeze. Northbound was breezy, too. The other, in your face kind. My plan was a relatively short ride - just get on the seat for a while. So, I went 2.5 miles south of Stoddard, turned around and headed home, 28.2 miles in all.

    My new aero bars came yesterday. Wish I had a bike to put them on. A yo-yo is included. So, do I yo-yo as I ride? It is actually provided to serve as a plumb line when installing the bars, but it is a working yo-yo so I can unwind after a ride, I suppose.

    Total ~ 992.0 miles

    * Click on the > to listen to a little Old Man River...

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Back in the Saddle Again

    Maybe this Texas theme will go too far. Maybe that ship has already sailed. Hey - a nautical theme, hmmmm....

    Back at home and riding again. My Trek is still in the shop waiting for a replacement part for the replacement part that did not fit. Rode the old bike to Stoddard and back during lunch, getting more and more comfortable with the aero bars. This afternoon, I went down the river again, this time a few miles past Genoa, going by the fish hatchery and over the Bad Axe River. The rides were 21.5 and 41.1 miles, respectively.

    Road kill report*: 19 small mammals (raccoons and opossums), two deer, one rather large snake. And about 14,000 small black gnats. And those were only the ones on the yellow part of my tri-color jersey.

    Total ~ 963.8 miles

    * I was responsible only for the demise of the gnats.

    Out of Texas

    No ride today. Not even a faux one in the fitness center. Meetings. Driving to Dallas, waiting for the flight to Minneapolis, on the flight, dinner at Ike's in MSP, waiting some more, flying some more, driving home. Arriving there about 11:40 p.m. A day of mostly sitting, something I'll be doing a lot of on the ride. Maybe the seats today were just a bit more comfortable than my bike saddle, though.

    But there is some riding news. The Cycle America General Information packet had arrived while I was gone. The first thing I looked for was the suggested training schedule. It was with some small sense of relief that I read the plan for the six weeks prior to the tour -- ride 4 days per week for a total of 53 hours. Other suggestions include one ride equal to the longest day of the tour (did that) and more than 3 hours on only three days of the 23 days of riding suggested (well past that). While feeling a little better about this, I am still planning on another month of hard work. With all of the riding I have done, the tour still has mountains and several 100 mile days back-to-back. Neither of which I have experienced. So, it is Ride on!

    Total ~ 901.2 miles

    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Texas, Day 2

    I never thought it would happen. Got in a short ride this morning and there was absolutely no wind! Being in the fitness center of the Tyler Wingate Hotel may have had something to so with that, I suppose. It was a recumbent stationary bike. Like trying to excercise on a Lazy Boy recliner.

    Total ~ 901.2 miles*

    * Won't count the "miles" on the excercise bike. Oh, and no hills, either.

    Monday, May 7, 2007

    Texas Bound

    I'm off to Tyler, Texas via Minneapolis and Dallas today. No, not on the bike. Was going to ride this morning early, but it was raining. Seemed like a good enough reason for me to not go out. Rain-riding should probably be part of the training though. Oh well, there will be other opportunities. I'll be in Texas (or on the way to or from) from about 11 a.m. today through the scheduled arrival in La Crosse on Wednesday at 11:05 p.m. With any luck, my Trek will be overhauled and ready for the last-month push to prepare for the real ride.

    Bill made the comment Saturday that if the ride were next weekend, we'd be ready. Me? I'm happy that the ride is NOT next weekend.

    Total ~ 901.2 miles

    Lone Star Supplement
    Listening to Orange Blossom Special on the iPod, reading Plum Island by Nelson DeMille helped the flight from Minneapolis to Dallas pass quickly. Arrived at DFW a little after 8 p.m. Or maybe we landed on the interstate south of Fort Worth. I won't say we were all that far from the terminal - there was, after all, only ONE line of low hills between where we landed and our gate. I thought the flight attendants were going to do another drink service.

    After a stop at Denny's for a Cherry, Cherry Limeade and a BLT, we arrived in Tyler, the Rose Capital of the World by the way, at about 11:30 p.m. Oh, and the biggest flags I've ever seen, one the Texas state flag, the other the Stars and Stripes, were flying over two different car dealerships on the highway into Tyler.

    Sunday, May 6, 2007


    Yesterday’s wind has not left town yet. Nor have the gray clouds. So, on this day of rest, I rode again. Shirley said I had to. Really. I HAD to ride. She was right, of course. Saddle sore (I’ll spare you any more details) and a little tired, I left home at about 1 p.m. Inspection had revealed that my shifter lever wasn’t cracked, as I had feared, but, there was some problem. Maybe the cable slipped. The ride today was to be along the river. No hills, so shifting up and down on the chain ring wouldn’t be an issue.

    Continuing my resolve to eat better as part of my training, I had a scone with my Caribou coffee early this morning (but hey, it was reduced fat), then cake and ice cream at church, celebrating our pastor’s 25 years of service. So far, so good. A banana before the ride and I was off.

    Riding against the wind towards Stoddard, I stayed down in the aero bars most of the time. Using them for the third time, I’m getting more comfortable. But they do, as I’ve noted, put you in an unstable configuration. Any perturbations are magnified, making it harder to follow rule #1 of riding: Keep the wheels below the handlebars.

    The ride took me a couple of miles south of the power plant in Genoa. Coming back allowed the wind to provide a helpful push. While not a challenging ride, it was pleasant. And rewarding to know I could do the 36.6 miles with relative ease after yesterday’s hard 108 mile trek. Speaking of which, the Trek is still in the shop. Waiting for parts.

    Total ~ 901.2 miles

    Saturday, May 5, 2007

    Milestone and Fast Eddie

    A century with Bill today. What a ride, or, as he observed, two rides. It was cold, damp and windy on the way to Tomah. Rain threatened to drop out of the slate gray skies on the 61 mile trip out. Into a stiff "breeze" all the way. We did dodge a couple of rain showers, riding on recently dampened roads, but missing the main event by just a few minutes. On one stretch a yellow dog built like a tank bolted at me as I violated his territory. Let loose every bit of adrenaline I had! Fast Eddie you know about, if you are familiar with the movie American Flyers. A dog that two brothers used for "motivation" as they trained for a ride in Colorado. Much to my relief, this guy didn't have Fast Eddie's legs and he gave up the pursuit as quickly as he started.

    Ride #2 was the return from Tomah. Now, the wind was at our backs and we got a big push. Flying along Highway 16 on the way to Sparta, speeds seldom less than 22 mph. This is the way it's supposed to be! Around West Salem, I cracked...I am not making this up...the shifter on the Bianchi. I was in the big ring and we had planned to ride into La Crosse on County B and Highway 16, so I really didn't need the lower gears. But, good grief!

    What else happend on the ride? Well, I had to yield the right of way to a turkey crossing FO. And then there was the manure spreader doing its thing in a field near Cashton. Man, I did not think I would be able to hold on to my breakfast. And the process - the truck was spraying its load from the TOP. Did any happen to fall back onto the truck? Well, yes. Now there's an innovative design.

    Oh, the milestone. Today's 108.2 miles is longer than the longest leg of the Seattle to Missoula ride. Progress.

    Total ~ 864.6 miles

    Friday, May 4, 2007

    Squid Ink Risotto

    What does this tasty sounding dish have to do with riding? Not much. Shirley and I went out with Keith and Lisbeth from Tyler, Texas. Keith is looking to move back to Wisconsin, his home state, and was interviewing yesterday and today. We went to the Waterfront Restaurant and Horseradish Encrusted Grouper on a bed of Squid Ink Risotto and Calamari was one of the specials. I just had to try it. "Fuel for tomorrow's long ride," I thought.

    Total ~ 756.4 miles

    Thursday, May 3, 2007


    I've spent a fair amount of time contemplating things from behind the handlebars. Leaning over against a stiff wind or struggling up a climb, I have opportunity to examine the finer details of asphalt, watching as little spots of perspiration leave a trail on the dark, pebbled surface. Or to try and find the right gear, so I can "spin" up the hills. Or attempt to get more aerodynamic with a device that threatens to dump me over instead. Equipment, training -- all to be more efficient. So I can ride faster, farther. Spend more time with the wind, find another hill or two. Looked at this way, I guess I am nuts, as has already been suggested. If all I want is excercise, Shirley has observed, I should just get a 35 pound, fat tire Schwinn (my Trek weighs less than 18 pounds and has hard, narrow tires) and drag a rock around the block a few times.

    So why in the world do I do this? Challenges. When I first started riding, I thought, "If I can ride up Bliss Road to the top of the bluff, then I can hang up the bike." I did ride to the top. I did not hang up the bike. I set my sights on the steep climb at the top of county road FO. Then it was ride 100 miles. Did that -- and the 100 mile point was during an FO climb. Why? Things I did not think I could do. The hills; the wind; the clock. Challenges. I'm apprehensive about the upcoming ride. I think it is going to be hard. Very hard. I am not a good climber. And we'll go across two mountain ranges. Bill, a much better rider than I am, is encouraging. But, I'm apprehensive. Yet, I'm also excited, eager to see what it is really like. Will I hang up my bike after this challenge? No way. I don't know what the next challenge will be. But I'll find one...if I survive Seattle to Missoula.

    Busy, busy day. No riding. Total ~ 756.4 miles

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007


    Did I ride twice today? I know everyone is wondering :-) And the answer is....yes. Just over 11 miles at noon; a ride up to the top of the bluffs and back. Then an evening ride out to Antony Road. I nixed the idea of going on to Bangor and West Salem due to the lateness of the hour so I rode about a mile out on Antony then turned around and came back. A beautiful evening and cool enough that I was glad I had stuffed my light jacket into my jersey pocket. It was on for the ride back.

    So, how long does it take to get used to riding in the aero bars? I'll let you know when I find out. There are some rough stretches of road out past Barre Mills and on one bump I just about lifted out of the elbow rests. I'm not all that comfortable using them yet and weave too much for my comfort. I tend to get out of them and onto the handlebars when cars are coming up behind me.

    Total ~ 756.4 miles

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    Weight Loss

    I didn't ride today, but I did work on my weight loss program. Wallet weight, anyway. The picture here is of the aero bars that I ordered this afternoon. Bill suggested that riding is important and that I should spare no expense. Done!

    As for other forms of weight loss, it was Eduardo's for dinner with Shirley tonight. Maybe I'll ride twice tomorrow.

    Total ~ 705.8 miles