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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Did I mention that I love to travel? And to fly? Even these days when air travel has become so much of a hassle, I enjoy the sum of the experiences that make up the journey. So it was on this trip to Palm Springs. Because of the near last-minute decision to come, my routing was through Chicago AND San Francisco. Without being able to tell you exactly why, I appreciated the chance to go through SFO. I had been here before, but in the time before children. That was a long time ago. Changing from the American Airlines flight to the Alaska Airlines service to PSP took me through the vacant Terminal 2 building. It was eerie -- a long curving passage past maybe one hundred identical empty ticket counters and large, open spaces where people once (and would again, after the renovation) funneled into the departure gate area. I was on a trek that not too many people need to make, it seems. In the ten minute transit from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1, I met only two people going the other way and saw one family using the big empty space for their young children to de-energize as they took long laps.

As interesting as this was, it was not the part of the journey out here that was most memorable. That distinction belongs to the short flight from La Crosse to Chicago. We took off on an overcast morning and were quickly into the clouds. It wasn't long, however, before we broke through the first layer and were skimming along the gray-white cotton balls of the cloud tops with the slate gray underside of the layer above us. The sun came up and shone through the opening between the layers, lighting up the top of the lower layer like a bed of glowing coals. The light in the cloud gap to the east then turned from a dim gray haze to a brilliant display of orange and pink. It is an amazing thing to fly. Just amazing. Do I love it? Yes I Do!

Biking? Well,being here in Palm Springs offers no opportunity for riding so I might as well write about the trip, don't you think? But there was that ride in Washington state. Up Stephens Pass. Into the clouds. Soaring of a different ilk, but soaring just the same. So, we have a theme at least.

I did get in 54.1 miles since last Tuesday and now am looking at 493.6 miles to go to reach my goal of 5,000 in 2007.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fashion Sense

Recently I noted that Fashion for Engineers was in the top ten list of shortest books ever written. I'm guessing that Fashion for Year 'Round Riding in Wisconsin is one of the longest. How do you dress for success in the upper midwest? Glad you asked. The slide show running below illustrates some of the principles.

Warm Weather Wear
Here we see the basics - shorts, lightweight jersey, short socks, and cool fingerless gloves. Shoes of course. And the helmet. There is always a helmet. Rain or shine, hot or cold. I repeat. There is ALWAYS a helmet.

Cool Weather Wear
It starts to get complicated now. Shorts, jersey, shoes and helmet are the base. Some cool weather additions to the well dressed rider's wardrobe are a lightweight, windproof jacket, heavier gloves with thin glove liners for even cooler days. The socks are a little heavier and go over the ankle. Leg warmers that are held up by the shorts are easy to remove and stash in a jersey pocket. The cap is more important to those of us who lack the natural insulation. Also shown are toe covers for the regular biking shoes and ear covers (the triangles) that velcro on to the helmet straps. It is not unusual to wear most of what you see in the picture at the start of the ride, with outer layers shed as you and the weather warm up.

Cold Weather Wear
Getting enough clothing between you and the wind is the issue when Wisconsin winter kicks in. We now have a base layer under the jersey. The one shown in the picture has a hood and sleeves that extend down to the knuckles with a hole for the thumb to keep the sleeve from walking up your arm. The jersey goes on next then a much heavier jacket. Tights, regular or fleece, go over the shorts and smart wool socks (not shown). Shoes are replaced with high-top riding boots and chemical foot warmers are a must. Full finger gloves over the liners for cold days or the "lobster" glove-mitten for COLD days. I usually wear the black cap under my helmet which now is also fitted with a cover ( the black and yellow piece at the right shoulder in the picture). Ear muffs round out the outfit.

As the weather gets cooler, you really don't need to ride as much - I'm sure that getting dressed and undressed through all of the layers burns the equivalent of a few miles worth of calories. And I think you see from this display why the spare no expense directive is not hard to follow.

Four rides last week netted me 103.6 miles. Total for the year is 4,452.3 miles.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Breaking News

Interrupting the pattern of Tuesday posts and posts about (more or less) biking, this very special announcement. Shirley and I now have our fourth grandchild and first granddaughter. She was born on Friday, October 19, 2007 at 6:38 p.m. Baby and proud parents are doing fine. Her arrival creates a few more family connections, of course - a new sister for two grandsons and a new cousin for another. Quite an accomplishment for a 7 pound, 5 ounce 18 1/2 inch baby, wouldn't you say? Tomorrow we drive up for a visit. I'll come home in the evening and Shirley will stay for a few days to help out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mystery, Reprise

Let's go back to London for a look at something totally unrelated to riding. Except that I found another Mystery Spot. You might recall the May 31 posting entitled Mystery, discussing the fascinating subject of Mystery Spots in the U.S. and, in particular, a few encountered during rides around the Coulee Region. Unlike the highway anomalies cited in the aforementioned post, I have video evidence of this English mystery...

Art at the British Library in London

How did the artist do this??? Answer next week. If you think you know, leave a comment.

I did ride this week, by the way; 116.4 miles, sitting now at a mere 651.3 miles shy of 5,000.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It Was a Lark!

There's nothing like a relaxing ride with which to start a nice Saturday morning. And it was nothing at all like a relaxing ride that we took last Saturday. More like an 83 mile sprint, in my estimation. Riding with Bill - sort of - it was a 4 hour 30 minute dash to Pepin, Wisconsin. We started off crossing the Mississippi River at La Crosse then climbing Apple Blossom Drive in La Crescent, Minnesota. Our first stop was Winona, 26 miles to the north, which is, of course, why we spent the next hour riding west. We did not go to Rochester, but I could sense it just over the next rise. If you look at a map, you'll see that the Mississippi River follows a northwesterly track as it separates Minnesota and Wisconsin so riding west is a necessary condition of arriving in Winona.

Leaving Winona we set our sights on Wabasha, Minnesota. Now we were riding the shoulder of the four-lane Highway 61 with a pretty good breeze pushing us along. About five miles from Wabasha, I caught up with Bill who was sitting on his bike, waiting. He pointed to a building across the highway, asked if I'd ever been there. What I noticed was a sign promising Ice Cream and Road Food (I did not ask). No, I'd not been here so we crossed the highway (carefully, of course), me thinking we were going in for something unique in the way of ice cream or that I would learn something about road food. I was to find out, however, that the cafe was just part of Lark Toys, a marvelous store featuring handmade wooden toys, a toy museum of sorts and a magnificent, working carousel. The owner of the shop had carved all of the animals on the ride and they were wonderful. Intricate, colorful, fanciful and part of a working carousel. I brought Shirley here on Sunday and we watched a group of excited youngsters riding the aniamls and their imaginations around and around to the tune of On Wisconsin. Click on the link to check out Lark Toys.

Leaving Lark, we crossed back into Wisconsin at Wabasha, rode through Nelson, Wisconsin and were sooner than I had expected at our destination: Pepin, Wisconsin. The plan was to meet Shirley and Eileen, who were driving up, for lunch at the Harbor View Cafe. We had a chance to unwind from the ride while waiting for them to arrive, after which we enjoyed an excellent lunch. We know the halibut was good, as three of us ordered the same meal. We'll just have to go back to sample more of the menu, which is written on a blackboard and changes daily.

The bikes were packed into the back of the car for the drive home. Eighty three miles in four and a half hours. A Lark.

Several rides this week bring my 2007 total to 4252.8 miles. Now, only 747.2 to go!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Observations Along the River Road

Okay, it isn’t Tuesday but here’s a Tuesday post. Live with it! The frequency of posting to the Blog is looking a lot like my riding frequency since just before the London / Salt Lake City trips – infrequent. But things are getting better; I’ve put in 245 miles in the last 7 days of riding.

The last few rides have taken me along the river, south to Stoddard. This for the first time since the flooding (see the August 28, 2007 posting, “Forty Days and Forty Nights?”). The highway is in great shape, but there are several mudslide scars on the hillside. It is quite impressive, the clean sweep made by the cascading mud. Swaths carved out of the otherwise tree-lined slopes, extending from the highway all the way to the top of the bluffs.

You can ride the same roads over and over but you’ll still get to see something different if you keep your eyes open. In addition to the remnants of the flood damage, there have been, once again, snakes. All over the road south of Goose Island. All but one gone to that place snakes go after they have been flattened on the roadway.

How am I doing on my 2007 goal of 5,000 miles? Well, as of today, I have 4,115 miles and a plan to do about 90 on Saturday. I just might make it. And then again, maybe I won’t.