Monday, December 28, 2009

Some winter photos

We haven't done much worth writing about, except running and snowboarding but all have lacked photos. So here are some pictures I shot last winter, I hope to get back to taking the camera along more often soon.

Snowshoeing in the dark coming up at Blue Mounds this weekend and Zack is ready to go. Scroll down a bit past the blank calendar to see all the different parks offering candlelight activities.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Boys Home Alone

Saturday was a busy day for the boys and I. Jen was off at a practice test in Chicago for her job, boring if you ask me since it doesn't involve real fire or cool tools. With a long work week behind me the first thing I needed was to get some exercise. After three days of just work and sleep I headed out for a run. It was a little slick but a got 4 miles in.

We had some Christmas shopping to do before our afternoon plan of snowboarding could start so off to Madison. After three stores and lunch we were back home to get our gear.

Zack was on and off interested in going but after I convinced him the chairlift was his call we went. With our snowboards in the Baja's bed and everything else inside and we were off. At least for now plans to get a roof rack for the boards are on hold. The Jeep will take 4 or 5 people and gear and the Subaru does 3 easy and 4 in a pinch. I'm concerned the Jeep might not fit in the garage with boards on the roof which would be a drag.

Since Zack is bunny hill only for now I left my board in the car so I could help him. Kevin surprised me by saying he was heading up the chairlift right away. The one thing I forgot was Kevin's cellphone, the coverage is poor but it beats waiting at the chairlift for him.

Zack is learning to stop and make heel edge turns so far. Last year he just went straight downhill and fell to stop. We made a few runs before Kevin showed up to say hi. Zack and I watched Kevin go up the chairlift again and waited to see him come down what it turned out was his second intermediate level run of the day. I had figured it would be all green runs for day one at least. After a final bunny hill pass we headed for the snack bar and called grandma to pick Zack up.

Hot chocolate at the car while we waited for Zack's ride warmed the boys up and gave me time to realize my board should have been waxed. Oh well it is ready now no harm done.
Once Zack headed home with grandma, now I could help Kevin. I was able to talk him into a green run to work on turns as we rode the lift up. I just wanted to help him get pointed more down hill for now rather than side slipping most of the run. He was getting the idea but early season legs limited us to just a couple runs. Next time I hope he can get started trying to turn on his toe edge.

Here the boys are, cell phone video again sorry. Next time I'm taking Zack's Flip Mino. If I get brave I might be able to shoot Kevin from the front. I wasn't ready to do that on the first day this season.

Sunday we sat around doing nothing, I did get a project done for winter running. I own two pairs of Yak Traks but they squeeze my toes too much. Also unless the surface isn't all snow or ice I find they don't grip well. So Sunday night I built my own ice cleat shoes with some #6x3/8 hex head screws. I had seen pictures on Twitter early in the week and figured for a dollar in screws why not. Yesterday I was able to get out for 3 miles of testing and so far I'm happy. On ice and compacted snow they seem to grip well. At first I noticed them on bare pavement but they didn't bother me or affect my stride, the Yak Teaks seem slippery by comparison. The only surface that I didn't notice improvement was thick loose slush where I would slide on push off. I'll edit this later as I get more time on them and as the temps drop again providing more ice to test on.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Biking

So I decided to hit the trail with the Tricross Singlecross before the big storm makes the trail less passable for a while. With the 32c tires it is more of a cut to the bottom than float on the top, I'll switch to the mountain bike for deeper snow. My guess is if the forecast for big snow is right the snowmobiles will be out to pack the trail soon enough. I'm actually looking forward to that happening since right now running is pretty uneven as well due to the crust and holes from walkers when it was warm on the weekend.

Just a few pics from the trail and Blue Mounds State Park.

My Garmin 305 is now my favorite training gadget, $150 I think for elevation and heart rate plus easy to upload to online tracking sites.

A short blurry video as I one handed down the trail. Helmet cam needed if I want to do any more.

Monday, November 30, 2009


So for the second year in a row Jen and I headed out early Thanksgiving morning to run the Berbee Derby 10K run. The weather was cold and breezy but once we got moving we warmer up and were comfortable. We got parked about 10 minutes before the start so by the time we made the mandatory stop at the restroom (port-a-potty) the wait in the starting chute was short.

Our plan was to go out slow and keep a steady pace or pickup the pace in the second half of the run. The first mile is pretty crowded so since we had lined up near the back we had no trouble keeping the pace at 10 minutes per mile. Mile 2 was into the wind more but by the time we turned west at the second timing mat before mile 3 we were plenty warm and the wind had died down. We both had our Amphipod bottles so we only picked up water at the stop during mile 3 to top Jen's bottle off. We continued to keep right on our 10 minute pace ending with a time of 1:02:14, the best part was Jen felt way better than last year with about the same finish time.

We had seen a coffee shop along the start of the run so we headed there, lights went out as we approached so we turned for the car. The only other coffee shop nearby was packed so we jumped in the car and headed off to find a shorter line. The third shop we came to was open and not swamped so despite it being s Starbucks we went in and ordered a couple of flavored drinks, I forget exactly what but it had a long name and was expensive compared to the shop we frequent near home.

The rest of the day we ate, first brunch at my mom's followed by Thanksgiving dinner with Jen's family. I think everyone made a commitment to join us next year at the run by walking the 5k course. One other commitment may have been made by Jen, I have a 20k in May I plan to run and I think she is going to join me which will be fun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There goes the lawn

So after a cold ride Monday on the bike trail the last 15 feet were the most fun. Thanks to the downhill coming home I had good speed when I hit the grass, I'm not sure why but I grabbed the rear brake and locked the rear wheel. Instant skid, instant smile, then it was over. Now the only question is if the grass will hold up to repeated abuse because I see myself doing it again soon. If I wear a dirt path in the lawn I'll post a picture.

Not much else went on this past weekend to talk about. Zack and I placed a travel bug in the geocache near our home. Grand plans to move it hours away fell through with the poor weather forecast.

Now back to thinking about snowboarding and picking events for next year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Me and my son got new shoes (ghost written by Zack)

Zack helped me with the title, and is helping me write this blog entry.

Zack helped me pick my shoes out. (That's all Zack can think of to say, so I will take over now)

Zack and I headed to buy him new shoes tonight, as his current pair was getting too tight. Of course, when I go into a shoe store I can usually find something for myself too. After I helped him pick out a pair of "cool" shoes, I scanned the clearance room for shoes in my size. I spotted a couple pairs of Nike Frees on the shelf. Both sizes fit well, and after deliberation and talking to Chad on the phone I picked up a pair to purchase. I had researched the shoe after my knee injury, and it is to simulate barefoot running. I'll try them out next spring.

Spending time alone with Zack is usually eventful. I usually end up laughing out loud at some point. On the way home from the shoe store we were talking about near everything. Somehow we got on the subject of counting and counting grades in school for Kevin. He is in seventh now and when we got to thirteen I told Zack high school stops at twelve, and he correctly stated that Kevin would be in college then. He asked what Kevin would go to college for, and I told him I wasn't sure but he had time to figure it out from classes he likes taking in school now. Zack said he wanted to be a firefighter, or drive a truck like Dad, but for any company. He then said...."or I could be whatever Kevin decides to be." Not sure where this was going because they can never agree on anything, so I asked. He said, "Well then I could still see him everyday, except on the weekends, but I guess we could see each other on the weekends too if we are both living at home." How cute is that? I'm guessing by the time they both hit teenage years this idea will be far from any thoughts. I did tell him, the living at home thing after college, not going to happen!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Short Ride

Sunday I went on a 15 mile ride, sure short for me but I wasn't alone. Zack was along on the trail-a-bike pulled behind my mountain bike. We had not made it out to Blue Mounds State Park by bike all year and it was his goal for the ride. Actually his goals for the ride were to climb the tower at the park and get Rolos on the way back.

We rode the rail trail out west to the park access trail where I got the first hint of the pain I was in for. The 7.5 mile ride to the top climbs about 850 feet according to the Garmin. We stopped so Zack could get a drink before heading up the big climb to the top of the park. I wonder what the drivers coming downhill thought as we crawled our way to the top. Zack somehow had plenty of lung capacity to talk about Sunday school all the way up, and I did my best to respond but was pretty busy just breathing. The combination of a 30+ pound bike, 20 pound trailer bike and 40 pounds of Zack was a lot to move but we made it.

Once at the top we headed for the tower. We snapped a few pictures with the phone and talked to a couple who were shocked we had ridden to the top of the hill. Then we needed to get going, so straight down the road into Blue Mounds we went for the snack stop. It was getting cool pretty quick with the sun dropping, so we ate a couple Rolos each and hit the trail for home.

We were now racing a disappearing sun and dropping temperature. We yelled our way through the "echo tunnel" aka the culvert underpass and discussed what the rd. and jct. on the signs Zack was reading stood for as we went. Eventually Zack got cold enough he stopped pedaling to stay warm, he wasn't buying my suggestion that pedaling was a better way to warm up.

Once home he jumped off the bike and after getting the remaining candy out of the seat bag he headed inside to warm up. I got to put the gear away alone but at least I had company for the ride.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Night Run and Day Ride

So this weekend we stayed in town since Jen had Fire Command duty until Sunday night. I got a 3 mile run in on Saturday morning alone before meeting for coffee. Sunday was yard work followed by a nap, the boys played outside and skipped the nap and work. At 6pm Jen and I hit the road up to the rail trail, running at night might become a regular activity. Thanks to the full moon it was light enough we didn't get tripped up and made our turn for home after a mile or so on the trail.

This morning after a strong cup of coffee I headed out on my single speed cross bike. Mid 40's and a headwind made for a hard but cool ride out to Blue Mounds State Park by way of the Military Ridge bike trail. Once in the park I spun past the new bicycle/hike in campground. It looks nice 9 sites I think with toilets and a small shelter in the middle. The campsites are accessed off the connector trail that enters the park from the rail trail. Up next was a tour of the beginner mountain bike trails, my 42x16 gear and 700c wheels really can't handle more than that. I think the GPS said I did about 2.5 miles on the trails before heading home on the road. A big descent lead into a short stretch of headwind fighting before the road turned so I got to ride with the wind most of the way back to town.

Just a few pics from the ride, missed the rail trail so two out of three surfaces will have to do.

Only a month or so and I'll be taking more pics like this,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finally back outside

On Sunday the weather was too nice to waste sitting inside. Funny how the mid fifties feels warm after a week of cold rainy weather.

First up we had to run to an open house to pickup our season passes at Tyrol Basin. The pass pickup went a bit slow for the boys, waiting in line is not much fun. We got our pictures taken and passes printed out and headed out to check out the gear sale. Since all our gear is only a half season old the deals on snowboards, while tempting, will have to wait a year or two. Kevin did score a pair of boarding pants for 25% off. Zack who did not get a season pass or any new gear didn't strike out, he got to go in the bounce castle they had setup while I waited to pay for the new pants. Of course being Zack he had such a good time he came out with a bloody nose. We decided to skip the chairlift ride since it would require getting out of the sale area, which was a pain, exactly like leaving Sam's Club only slower.

I don't recall how we came to agreement on a picnic lunch and geocaching at Devil's Lake but once home Jen packed a snacky lunch and I made sure we had caches loaded in the GPS. Jenny told Kevin to grab his camera which was a good thing or we would have been stuck with cellphone pictures yet again.

Devil's Lake is a great park in the off season. The trees still had pretty good color and Kevin took a bunch of good pictures when his mom wasn't borrowing his camera. Not only did Kevin have his camera but a tripod as well making group shots much easier. Even if I had remembered our camera I always forget the tripod. We picnicked at a table far enough from the main parking lot we were pretty much alone. Up next was the geocache. I had three programed but the boys didn't want to walk real far so we headed to the closest. We had been stumped by this particular cache once before, the GPS would change the heading repeatedly as it did again. The rocks we were climbing on were somewhat wet and covered in wet leaves making it a challenge. Jenny eventually found the box hidden in the rocks and Zack grabbed a toy car while she signed the log book.
After some more pictures we walked the railroad tracks back to the north beach area for even more pictures before heading back to the Jeep.

I had seen a farm market advertising apple cider doughnuts so we had to stop on the way home. A good way to wrap up an unplanned trip that we all enjoyed.

The doughnut can be found about here:

View Larger Map

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catching Up

Just catching up on life lately. Seems like I've been either real busy, or maybe just real lazy.

Chad and I went to the Badgers game last Saturday. They lost, but the weather was nice. We have gone to games before when it's been raining, snowing, or maybe even worse. The sun was out for most of the game and it was a windy day but most of the wind didn't seem to make it into the stadium. We always have good seats in row 28, season tickets from my parents. And our section is right next to the student section so we don't miss out on any of their cheers with expletives, and they always seem to have a new one each year when we go.

After the game we rushed home to get the boys to take them to a pumpkin party at our CSA farm. We have bought a share of vegetables the last two years from Middlebury Hills. At the end of the season they have a day to go cut pumpkins out in the field, followed by a fire and warm soup. On arrival to pick up the kids, Zack was sick and couldn't go. Kevin didn't want to get pumpkins without Zack, so home we went.

Then it rained pretty much the whole week, at least it seemed like all week long. Chad even ran into snow on Friday driving to Minnesota. No snow at home, but plenty of rain and wind through the night.

Saturday morning we woke up to no more rain, and the sun peaking through. The roads were starting to dry, so Chad and I headed out for a run. It was not too bad running on the bike trail and we actually got so warm running that when we stopped for coffee and a snack at the coffee shop we ate outside. It must have been in the 40's and the chairs were still wet from the previous rain, but it felt good. We shared a wonderful piece of Linzer Torte.

Then Chad had a skull with walnut brain, and I had a blueberry cup.

We did cool off on the walk back home, but had our coffee with us to warm us from the inside out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Beater Build

Sometimes bike work is fun and rewarding I'd do it for a living if it paid better and then there is the other times. This last build I was asked to do left me frustrated and disappointed.

I was asked by a friend of Jenny from the fire department to build a mountain bike from two parts bikes and a bunch of leftover parts. I'd rebuilt his old road frame last year when Dan from Atkins recommended me. That build was easy compared to what I was facing this time.

The two frames

A pile of parts...could be scrap metal.

At first he wanted a single speed then after riding both my single speeds decided on a 1x7 setup. Once I had all the parts in the basement it was a strip and swap operation since the frame he wanted had the more abused parts. The headset needed to be cleaned and greased, the bottom bracket stayed after the left cup refused to break loose. Yeah I could have got it out but this was to be a economy build so no point in wasting labor time to swap in a marginally better one. Everything went together alright and a liberal application of PBlaster got the freewheel and rear derailleur moving again. The new chain seemed good but once out for a test ride it skipped in the two smallest cogs, a quick swap to the chain that had been running on the freewheeling had it running smoothly.

The crankset had minimal clearance at the chainstays but seemed fine, road crank on a mountain frame and bottom bracket. The only mountain crank I had seen was cracked and was awaiting a weld job by a mutual friend. This is the last shot I took before the fun was over.

When I called to have our friend come get the bike I thought I was done finally. So he shows up hops on and throws the chain off the crank by shifting four gears while cranking as hard as he can. It is instantly clear why the parts are all beat up. Next he has issue with the crankarm clearance at the chainstays. By this point I wanted the bike gone so I pulled the crank swapped pedals and the short chainring bolts so once welded the mountain crank would be all set. Twenty wasted minutes to gain a millimeter.

Maybe I'll get lucky and the next person who wants a bike built won't expect miracles.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bicycle Gearing

How many gears does your bike really need ? This is a subject I've spent many hours thinking about and researching gear charts on the Internet. Yes sometimes I don't have much to think about and thinking about bike parts doesn't cost me anything... for a while anyway.

The stable of bikes at our house range from single to 30 gears. I like the singles for the drive train simplicity but not so much for hills. The real debate in my head is more about crank sets, single , double, triple, I've even seen quads.

I ride a triple 52/42/30 I have no interest in a double or a compact double. The standard double doesn't go low enough for hills with a standard cassette and the compacts spend too much time cross chained.

I spend a lot of time in the 42 which has lead to me the idea of pairing a single 42 or 44 with a mountain cassette, likely a 11/34. I find I frequently double shift the rear already with my 12/26 so the bigger gaps with the mountain cassette wouldn't bother me. A look at a gear inch calculator shows that a 44 tooth chain ring with a 11-34 cassette provides the same range as my triple missing the only highest and lowest gears.

So equipment wise I'm thinking a single ring crank, new mountain rear derailleur and cassette. I'd get to delete the front shifter and derailleur. I might go to a bar end shifter for the rear as well to make matching brake levers easier. This move would be for simplicity not weight savings, my bike builds tend towards durable over feather weight.

I'm not sure when or if this will get done but will update if it comes together.

Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator this is where I compare setup options.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Riding

So I went for a ride today since the weather is suppose to get worse all week, that isn't to say today was ideal unless cold is your thing. I ended up doing about 39 miles since my choice of layering wasn't working. I was warm but sweating from my not breathable enough jacket worn over a Pearl Izumi Kodiak Light jersey and a long sleeve base layer. I have yet to buy a long sleeve jersey that is comfortable below the mid fifties without at least a light base layer. I'll be jersey shopping for Christmas. I'd like to find one that would work down to the mid thirties without a jacket.

I didn't take the camera since there is almost no color to be seen yet out here. Instead I was concentrating on what gears I used. I'll have a separate post regarding just how many gears are really needed to get a useful range. For some great photos of cycling and a good read check out this blog: The Path Less Pedaled

All the cold weather has left little weekend activity to write about. So here is what we hope to get done yet this fall.

Jenny and I are doing the World Wide Festival of Races this weekend at some point, the 5k this year. We just got fliers in the mail for the Berbee Derby which we ran last year and will be again this Thanksgiving.

The Bombay Bicycle Club ride this Saturday ride was to be a family affair but the fore casted high of 45F will be too cold I'd guess. I'm holding out hope for one more kayak paddle to see some fall color.

I guess if all else fails we can go hiking until Tyrol Basin opens after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Weekend Off

So last weekend our outdoor activity consisted of walking and tree trimming. Saturday we headed to the farmers market with some friends. The downtown area was crazy busy due to the football game starting at 11am. Once we got parked we headed around the square eating as we spotted both old standbys and new things to try. I as always ate cleanup, I chose nothing but get the ends of most everything. The only drawback to this is I get less of the good and more of the bad.

After our one lap we headed down State street to Fontana for BOGO Smartwool with a coupon about to expire, then to Yellow Jersey to look for tubeless mtb tires for a friend along with us. He struck out at Yellow Jersey but ordered them at Atkins on the way home. With shopping done we grabbed some lunch before walking back to the cars.

It didn't hit me until a block from the car but the boys had not complained at all about the walking. Zack is normally asking to be on my shoulders half way around the square. Maybe the 2 mile Gilda's Club run next month won't be a big deal.

Jenny and I squeezed in a 1.5 mile run later that night, hard after eating a big dinner at my mom's house.

Sunday's outdoor stuff was limited by afternoon storms. The boys played outside while Jenny and I did some overdue trimming on the landscaping. We caved before the boys when the rain started and spent the rest of the day inside. They ran around the yard in the rain claiming "we can take it, we are men!"

Looking at bigger plans for next weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Riding the Military Ridge Trail

I can now say I've ridden the entire Military Ridge bike trail. I spent the last two Mondays riding first east to Madison then yesterday I went west to Dodgeville.

The trail going east starts with a 4 mile decent followed by a couple miles of trees leading to mostly open wetlands. As the trail reaches Verona trees again create a tunnel feeling. Leaving Verona the trail becomes paved and meets up with the Capital City trail and Madison's city trails.

I wanted to get downtown so I continued along the bike route paralleling Verona road until it joined the Southwest path. Once on the SW path it is a straight shot to the UW campus. I reached Monona Terrace and without any planned stop jumped onto the streets and turned for home. The trip home was a jumble of trails and roads ending back on the trail to climb the last 4 miles back to Mount Horeb.

Yesterday I hadn't planned to ride the trail again but the weather didn't give me any other options. With thick fog a road ride would have been unsafe. Since temps were mid 50s so I dressed in a long sleeve jersey, knickers and full finger gloves. Two bottles of water and 3 fig bars and I was off.

The trail westbound runs close to a 65mph 4 lane highway. This makes stretches of the trail noisy and not real scenic. When the trail gets away from the highway The trees form a tunnel with occasional views of the hills to the north. Additionally the trail passes by Blue Mounds and Governor Dodge state parks. I rode to the end of the trail at in Dodgeville before stopping at the DNR office to eat my snack and rinse the sand off my water bottles. The sun peeked out for a minute as I turned for home but the fog and clouds stayed for the rest of my ride. The bike needed a wash and chain lube at home. I was well covered in grit as well and will be looking at fenders to reduce the flying grit.

I'm sure trail rides will not become a frequent occurrence but having the option nearby is nice. Paved with more hills would be ideal, a couple hundred mile trail network and I might give up road rides.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well, last Saturday was the Potosi Brewery Ride that Chad and I signed up for a while ago. We saw the ride schedule last year but had other plans that prevented us from signing up. We planned then to do the ride this year and try the 100 mile course. It would be my first century. But this year things didn't quite work out as expected. My knee injury set me back this year and all the longer rides this year were on the tandem. I had a sore knee during the Wright Stuff a couple weeks ago, and the soreness continued last week. I didn't want my goal of completing a century this year end my season of riding and risk other sporting events yet to come this fall or winter. Chad and I rode the 100K course instead, and the course was changed due to road detours and ended up with more climbing than expected anyways.

We set out early in the morning to make it there on time to start. This was the only picture we took, and it didn't turn out well. Trust me the color of the rising sun on the horizon shining through the tandem mounted on the back of the Jeep was much more awesome in person. Not a whole lot going on in Potosi although it stretches on seemingly forever. The brewery is in a beautiful restored building on the edge of town. The course started uphill for a long ways, before leveling off with some great downhills. These downhills would become grinding uphills on the route back to the brewery. The course was well marked at each corner. We had riders with us for a while, but after the turn for the 100K, the roads were pretty empty until after the final rest stop where the courses converged again. I think I've been spoiled by the wonderful rest stops of the Wright Stuff, as I was a little disappointed with the selection of bagels, peanut butter, jelly, bananas and cookies at Potosi.

Chad and I were also disappointed in the meal at the end. The ride was advertised as something along the lines of good German food, good German beer, good German music. Well the meal was noodles with spaghetti sauce, green salad with Italian dressing and garlic bread. The kind of frozen sliced texas toast garlic bread I have cooked in the oven for the family. These slices were just warmed, not toasted. In fact Chad's garlic bread was cold. I guess I wouldn't really call any of the meal German. I sampled one of their beers, and Chad enjoyed a root beer. We left full, and right after eating. The music was too loud to have a conversation with anyone around. I appreciate the ride organization, and the course was well marked with support along the way. The staff from the Potosi Brewery were all very friendly.

We'll try for another century for me to complete next year. First thought I have is Door County, but the local Wright Stuff Century is a great ride too. This year we still want to do a ride with the kids, either Bombay or a supported ride if we can find one that is not cost prohibitive to register four people to do a sub 3o mile ride.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday morning events

Going to bed Saturday night we had plans to go kayaking today on the Badfish Creek. Kevin had chosen this waterway earlier this season after watching a dvd of local paddles. The kids were up early and it was to be a hot day so an early start would be good. Chad was greeted in the living room by "I don't want to go." OK, now what?

I am fighting a bad cold and didn't want to do a lot of bike miles, and Chad and I went for a run Saturday morning. So Chad and I decided to go for a short mountain bike ride. The kids were invited, but declined. It was getting humid out when we started, but in the woods was still nice and cool. The trails today were really dry, cracked even at the beginning. Overall I did pretty good, after overcoming some timidness after a near crash or two. Chad took some video on his cell phone. In the future we will need to find a better camera if we want to do more. Or maybe we can borrow Zack's Flip Video Camcorder.

After riding and showering we did manage to talk the kids into going to the coffee shop for a mid morning snack. Along with my iced coffee I ordered this spectacular coconut cupcake. Yum!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

No not monster trucks, the big event last weekend was the Wright Stuff Century.

Held every year on Labor Day Sunday for the past 31 years by the Bombay Bicycle Club the Wright Stuff offers fully supported rides of 100, 65, and 30 miles.

I was up before our alarm and headed out to the kitchen to make oatmeal for Jen and I while she got dressed. The temperature was in the low 50's but was forecasted to be in the upper 70's later, so it was hard to dress for that kind of swing. We both settled on just arm warmers beyond the standard jersey and shorts. At 7am my mom came over to watch the boys ( thanks mom) and we headed to the ride start at Tyrol Basin.

When the Subaru's outdoor temp showed 46 I knew the arm warmers would not be enough. Oh well, we got our registration packets, prepped the tandem and rolled out about 7:45am. It was cold, really cold and almost immediately foggy. For 45 minutes we froze and crawled through fog so dense it was condensing on the bike and us to the point we were dripping wet. Finally the sun appeared and the fog broke up within minutes just as we started the first long climb of the day.

It didn't take long once the fog cleared to warm up. We had covered about 8 of the 26 miles to the first rest area in the fog and I was ready for some real riding. Even with the now easier route we had some bigger climbs between us and the first rest stop. One descent saw us roll past 48mph.

The first rest stop was at the Unity Church south of Spring Green,WI. We refueled on fresh fruit, bagels with peanut butter and cookies. With full water bottles we headed back to the road for more climbing.

It was another 26 miles to the second rest stop. Three long climbs had to be tackled along the way. I had done them all in past years but it was all new for Jen. The first hill went by rather quickly with some ribbing (e.g. a tandem has two engines) from other riders as we passed. We lost those riders in the next couple of miles and rode alone right to the start of climb two. We passed a single rider who then followed us up the climb into Ridgeway. Jen was ready to be done with this climb before it was done with us but we made it without much trouble. Unfortunately before climb three Jen's knee started to hurt. We made some adjustments and took the climb slow so she could rest.

The second rest stop in Barneveld, WI offered the same snacks as the first and we had a bit more to eat before the last 13 mile ride back to the start.

The highlight of the last 13 miles was the 3.5 mile downhill run. We were ready to get to the dinner at Tyrol Basin and found our second wind to push for the last few miles.

Once back we loaded the gear in the car and wiped down before changing into clean shirts. The dinner was a taco buffet, by far my favorite meal offered by this ride in the past five years. Tacos and beer, or in my case rootbeer, followed by chocolate cake while chatting with fellow riders was a nice way to end a great ride.

Next year we will tackle the 100 mile route if all goes well and we stay injury free.

Barefoot running

I took my first almost barefoot run yesterday, only 2 miles just to see how it would feel. Over the weekend I purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I found the KSO model to fit my foot the best and Kevin approved the blue camouflage color. They are as barefoot as I'm interested in going.

So my review after two miles is that running with minimal shoes felt good. The trail running was great, I felt barefoot without the pain of being poked by rocks and sticks. On the road it was clear that I already land mostly on the middle of my foot not my heel, which I guess is a good thing. No pain today and looking towards going again soon.

Further information can be had by listening to some episodes of The Runner's Roundtable and Phedippidations podcasts also the book Born to Run seems to be popular.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Only six days in...

Zack had an incident at school today. I guess a ball got in his way on the playground and the ball won. Down he went putting out his hands to break his fall. I got the call, his hand just didn't look quite right, not to mention all the cuts and road rash on his knees and arm.

So off to the doctor for x-rays. He was strong and did a great job, like a real pro by the time the second set of x-rays was developing. No broken bones after the first look by radiology. So now he gets to sport a lovely splint while the soft tissue of his thumb and wrist heal.

Toughest boy in the first grade.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Menu sampling

Chad and I spent the morning marking part of the course for the Bombay Bicycle Club Wright Stuff Century that takes place tomorrow. We had new tape arrows to use this year instead of pound in wooden signs, but it still took just as long. I always worry about people tampering with the course marking, you know those bike haters out there thinking they will have a little fun messing with us. There will always be a possibility for course tampering unless you have someone staked out by each turn, so I only hope everyone has something better to do tonight than mess with an organized group ride route.

After the marking we got the kids and planned on going in to Madison for the Taste of Madison. We stopped by Rutabaga on the way downtown. Chad was looking to try on a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes to try out barefoot running. He tried on similar shoes the last two times we have been in Door County but at that time it was just because he thought they were cool, not for barefoot running. Barefoot running is a theory that athletic shoes are changing our bone and muscle structure and running barefoot is more natural. He found a pair at Rutabaga that fit good, and Kevin said the blue ones were cool.

Once we were parked closed to the Square we picked a side to start the feasting. There are many vendors most of whom are restaurateurs from Madison and the surrounding area. Each stand offers three or more choices from their menus in sampling sizes. Chad and I like to try things that we normally would not order, but the kids pick their favorites like pepperoni pizza and chocolate chip cookie from Old Chicago. Chad doesn't always pick a lot of stuff because he tends to finish whatever the kids or I don't eat. I call him my human garbage can. Chad had some ribs, I had some scallops. We shared a dish that sounded like dessert but had chicken in it. Chicken B’stilla from Casbah Restaurant. It had cinnamon, almonds and a flaky pastry with chicken filling. The highlight of the sampling was Mac-n-Cheese with Bacon Bites from Bluephies. They were breaded and fried balls of just like the name says, macaroni and cheese with bacon bits. We had to order two to share with everyone and the kids made us promise to take them to the restaurant sometime for a full order. While waiting for Chad to get Zack a snow cone the kids came up with a name for the meal we were having since it was mid afternoon. They said if breakfast and lunch is brunch then we were eating lupper, since it was between lunch and supper. Everyone had their fill of lupper when we left.

The popular Mac-n-Cheese Bacon Bite

Chad sporting his new Fatcyclist t-shirt from Twin Six

My human garbage can

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is it fall?

This last Sunday felt like October not August. The Weather Channel said it was 49F when I got up, really I just rolled over to grab my iPod Touch and wait for the bad news. We were headed off to get some miles in on the tandem with the Bombay Bicycle Club.

I quickly got my Pearl Izumi bib knickers and long sleeve jersey on, topped for the time being with a fleece jacket and hat. Finally warm I headed out to load the gear and tandem into and on my Subaru Baja. After a small breakfast we headed out.

We pulled into the town of Paoli with plenty of time to spare and got out to find it was really cold with the wind blowing steadily. Turned out the vest for Jen and my jacket I'd grabbed just in case were very necessary. We went and got our map for the 54 mile route deciding, along with a friend we were riding with, that would be plenty and waited for the ride to begin.

This ride was different than most Sunday rides, this week the ride leader was hosting a picnic at his farm. After a short talk on road conditions the group rolled out to the west. We were dropped by the fast group within a couple of miles. They may have needed to push hard to generate body heat since many were only in shorts and short sleeved jerseys. Our ride went well out to the farm, small hills and a tailwind made for some easier cruising. We caught another group of three riders before reaching the farm and the six of us rolled down the long gravel drive.

The ride is called the Watermelon Ride but what we found was a long table of fruit, veggies, chips, pasta salad and drinks. Our group was the first to arrive followed shortly by two other bikers, one of which was Mike the ride leader and owner of the farm. We sat eating and chatting for a half hour or so before heading back to the road.

The wind was going to be a pain all the way back to the car. With only two bikes in our group, drafting or a paceline was hardly worth it. Maybe half way back we were overtaken by the fast group. No chance we could hang on to that crew, so quickly we were a group of three again. We figured that they had skipped the farm picnic, Jen had seen one of them at a store in Monticello, WI. I had mixed feelings about the bypass they had done. On one hand the ride leader had gone to a lot of work to provide a nice lunch for whoever wanted to stop by and I wondered if having a large percentage of the group skip would be insulting. On the other hand at least some of the same riders that skipped the farm were shockingly rude at the start of the ride during the announcements so maybe they weren't missed.

We made it back to the start feeling more tired than we expected thanks to the headwind. Hopefully the weather will warm up. We still have two big rides planned in September plus two rivers we want to paddle.

The Fire Muster

Ok, so this isn't a normal Saturday for us. This past weekend was the fund raiser for the local fire department, also where Jenny works full time as a firefighter/EMT.

The big activity for the boys was the kids waterfights. Kevin against Zack doesn't seem fair and in big brother style Kevin cut Zack no slack in a 3-0 match.

Jenny was the Incident Commander at an extrication demonstration later in the day. Being the IC doesn't look like near as much fun as getting to cut the car apart.

The rest of the day and night was filled with music from a few different bands, food and for some lots of beer. Jen and I got home about 1am, the boys spent the night with grandma. I'm sure glad the fund raisers are only twice a year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Drivers who honk

Really the act of honking at a cyclist is just a warning that the driver wants you out of their way and off their roads. I got honked at twice on today's 26 miles ride, once was a full blaring long honk the second a double beep. The result was the same, two unsafe passes by inconsiderate drivers, one on a small rise in the road the other on a tight curve. Neither driver gave me the required 3 feet as they passed.

The standard response is that we cyclists don't follow the rules. Really I'm suppose to follow all the rules? How about the drivers go first! When I stop getting buzzed and honked at I'll start making complete stops at all the stop signs, oops cars don't always follow that one either. On to my solution to help car drivers see the light.

What I'd like to have happen to all the drivers that pass too close is they get buzzed by a tractor trailer. Sound unfair or maybe you think that isn't the same thing. I weigh in at 200 plus my bike is 23 pounds, the mini van from today weighs in at 3,900 plus passengers, a loaded semi 80,000 pounds. As you can see I'm about 5% of the weight of the van which is 5% of the weight of the loaded semi. So who wants to be the one to have a semi drive past even three feet away at two to three times your speed? Sound crazy, unsafe, you think the driver of the semi is an a**hole, while if you pass cyclists like that it's the same thing.

Just to be fair only two of the 10 or so vehicles I saw on the road today failed to give me at least three feet and most gave more. Oh well at least I got a great sprint giving chase to the mini van in hopes of "thanking" them at stop sign. I'm still wondering if I should have called the police on the van or the Village office on the utility worker in the pickup. I do however live where a hit and run on a cyclist was only investigated until the driver said "I didn't" then it was dropped. Maybe I should try a video camera to document the close ones?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend recap

Coming into this weekend I had one thing I wanted to do: Go to the Farmer's Market downtown. Last time we were there was much earlier this season. We had been to a smaller farmer's market but not the "big" one. I didn't have anything in mind, but the scenery and choices are more plentiful downtown. This meant of course that we were limited in our other activities like biking and kayaking that we might have done if we had the whole day available. The weather was due to be great, almost like the beginning of fall. Chad said we could go, and we were also going to check out a restaurant in downtown Madison that is run by the couple who ran our local coffee shop years ago.

No alarm was set for the morning, to allow us to sleep in, yet whenever we plan for that it never works. Kevin opens the door early and asks what the plan is. He was awake and figured the rest of the house should be too. Chad and I went out for one of my 15 minute PT run/jogs. I'm now up to 3 minutes running and 2 minutes jogging. He went out ahead of me to put a little more time in and swung back past home to pick me up for the 15 minutes. The weather was nice, sun out and slightly cool.

After showering and a small snack, we headed for downtown. Thinking we were late getting there I was worried about what would be left, but the square is even more crowded than the earlier time we usually shoot for. The walk was slow and we got some fresh veggies, and the typical cheese curds and beef sticks for the boys. Looking for some particular home grown hot peppers, all I kept seeing was jalapenos and Anaheims. Chad had started to comment that I could grow different varieties and make some money selling them. Then we came across a vendor with multiple kinds and my profitable business ended there. Five peppers for $1, not going to retire on that. Good deal for me, I found what I was looking for to make my fresh salsa.
After the long walk around the square he headed straight for Argus Bar Grille. They had a great menu. I ordered a Fat Tire pint from New Belgium. I had been wanting to try it and they had it on tap. Chad ordered a wrap with some spicy cajun fries. The rest of us had sandwiches. We got a tour of the building from the owner. It is the oldest commercial building in Madison complete with tile floor and decorative tin ceiling. Nice place. Zack was excited about the pool table in the basement.

We ran a ton of errands and were trying the kids' patience but a stop for some ice cream towards the end of the trip revived them. We then stopped at Brennan's for some cheese and they were sampling ice cream sodas with Sarsaparilla soda and cherry vanilla ice cream, very good. The soda was from Jackson Hole Soda Company, and they had a Huckleberry soda too, so of course we had to get a four pack of assorted sodas to have later at home.

For dinner Chad grilled some steaks and some sweet corn we picked up at the farmer's market. Grilled sweet corn is the best, especially the way Chad cooks it. The cobs are laid right on the grill unhusked so the kernels get brown were they lay on the grill. It gives the corn a caramelized flavor and it was so sweet you don't need much butter or salt on it. And the pulled back husks leave a nice handle to hold onto when eating.

We had set up to go mountain biking with a friend on Sunday morning. The bikes were loaded up Saturday night. I am still borrowing Kevin's mountain bike because it had the knobby tires mounted on it and regular pedals. My mountain bike has slicks for riding on the road and clipless pedals. Kevin's bike also has a suspension fork, and I think after riding with it I'm spoiled. I want to try riding my own unsuspended to see if I can do the trails, but I worry that my early 90's Cannondale that I love dearly won't get me over the rocks and roots. Chad thinks we could maybe modify it, so we'll see.

The trails at Blue Mounds State Park were pretty empty. It was still set up for a 3, 6, and 12 hour race the day before. I don't know what time that race started but I couldn't imagine those trails in the dark. I did pretty good, I was working harder to keep my pedals level so I didn't wedge them against rocks. We went a little farther than the first time I went out and I felt good after. Chad took a few pictures and as you can see by this one I was going so fast the camera couldn't capture me.