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!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chocolate Milk and Doughnuts

On Saturday I stopped wondering if I was ever going to ride again this year and just got on the bike and took off. Conditions were perfect for a quick run down to Stoddard ~ cold drizzle with the promise of a transition to sleet then snow. The roads were wet, but actually clear of ice and snow all the way to the guardrails. In spite of the conditions, it felt good riding along the river again, although the fog kept the Minnesota side vistas from prying Wisconsin eyes. Being obstreperous because the Packers are having a better year than the Vikings, I suppose. Boldly pedaling right through Stoddard, I headed out on Highway 162. About five miles out I turned around and came back, now riding in a pretty steady rain.

Upon getting off the bike at the Stoddard Kwik Trip, I saw that the back end of my saddle was buried in mud. Not dirty. Not covered with mud. Buried. As for my own personal backside, I couldn’t see it, but I was pretty sure what was going on. But I did not let this stop me from going in and getting my riding reward – a small bottle of chocolate milk and a doughnut. Being so fortified, I headed back towards La Crosse. It was only about a mile into this last leg when I noticed just how very cold it had become. The ride so far had been more comfortable than I had any right to expect, but that quickly became but a memory. I was wet, riding into the wind and now getting pelted alternately by rain and sleet…that pink band on the weather maps that they sometimes call a "wintry mix."

I returned and deposited my clothes directly into the washing machine, started it up and took a long hot shower. A wet, dirty, cold, rainy, sleety ride of 30.8 miles. All of that, just for chocolate milk and a doughnut? You bet! Was it worth it? Yes it was!

4,843 miles of highway have now rolled under my seat in 2007. My 5,000 mile goal only 157 miles away. So near. Yet so far…the promise of six to ten inches of snow tonight not boding well for the next few days at least.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


THWUMP!!!!! That’s the sound of nature throwing down the gauntlet, saying, “Let’s see you make your 5,000 mile goal now.” At about 3 a.m. a significant amount of snow packed up and left the roof, sliding down the steep slope for the short trip to the driveway where it made its sudden and noisy stop. When I officially got up a few hours later, I found, to no one’s surprise, that the snow did not limit itself to falling only on, then from, rooftops. Streets and sidewalks were also targeted. After the cycle of snow, warming, rain and sleet, cooling, and a little more snow, the streets have become pretty unfriendly to bicycles.

Now according to Frazz, there is no such thing as weather too bad for a ride, only a poor choice of clothing. But warm clothing won’t help keep your wheels below the handlebars on an icy road. So the Trek is, for the moment, a bicycle-in-waiting. There is still time. If the weather cooperates. But this is Wisconsin. And it is December.

It isn’t just snowing here, either. Remember the reason for this blog? The Seattle to Missoula ride. I checked in at the Washington state DOT web site after reading headlines about Stevens Pass and portions of US 2 being closed. I found an interesting picture from the Tumwater Canyon area, just west of Leavenworth. This is where we had a wonderful lunch stop site with the opportunity to observe the nesting ospreys. Below are two pictures…one that I took in June and the other from the DOT site showing, I think, very nearly the same stretch of road just a couple of days ago:

Tumwater Canyon, June

Tumwater Canyon, December

What a difference six months makes!

So here I sit, frozen as it were, at 4,812.2 miles, wondering how I’ll get the 187.8 needed to reach 5,000.