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.