Monday, March 18, 2013
Labels: 2013 Race Reports
Category - P123
As hard as it is to believe its 2013 and although the weather still seems like winter it’s only three days from the official start of spring. For some reason the cold, dark, and snowy days have just seemed to drag on. So I have been itching to get out and race my bike and kick off the season. The Iowa Spring Classic is a race that I’ve never done before and takes place partially on paved roads and also on gravel roads. It’s a hilly course and certainly seemed like a challenging entry to the season. But it’s also low key and low stress so it provides a really good way to ease into the year. I have never done a race like this before so everything was going to be a new experience for me.
I decided to bring my new Cyclocross bike for this race instead of my road bike because the gravel roads seemed like they would be suited to this type of bike which could utilize wider tires and lower gearing. But as I started unloading my stuff at the race I started noticing that most of the other guys were using their regular road bikes. Right from the start I wondered if I might have made a mistake in my bike selection.
As I was getting ready the wind was howling and most of the course including the parking area was completely exposed to the wind. The temperature was hovering in the upper 30s but the sun was shining and provided a little relief from the frigid wind. I did a brief warm up and the bike worked really well on the gravel. I was using a 33 millimeter tire with a subtle tread that I thought would be perfect for the gravel roads. As we lined up however, I saw that I was one of the only ones with a cross bike and certainly the only one using 33mm tires.
At the start I was at the front cruising with ease. There were a few short climbs which were no problem but very shortly I ran into my first issue. The course was very hilly and as I went down the first big hill I downshifted into my smallest back ring until I ran out of gears. The pace picked up and I just couldn't turn the pedals any faster to keep up. Cyclocross bikes have a much lower gearing then road bikes so I just had no more gears left and my legs felt like they were in a hamster wheel spinning so fast. Going up the other side of the climb was equally difficult because Cross bikes don’t necessarily climb that well and I wasn't carrying as much speed as the rest of the group. Quickly I slipped to the back of the group.
After only about two miles a guy shot off the front and two more followed. I decided to let them go and stick with the main group but after only 2 laps (about 12 miles) my legs were screaming. I could really feel the weight of the bike and the resistance of the wheels on the road. I was desperate to stay in the group but finally fell off on one of the climbs. I stuck with another group of two guys for a while and we worked together to try and catch the main pack. I did my best effort to catch but my helper didn’t have much left to chase so we eventually fell way off. At this point my race was over and I was sticking in to get a good workout.
The sun was shining and it was a nice day. I contemplated my bike choice but also second guessed my fitness. At one point during the last 3 laps I looked over and saw a group of deer prancing along beside me… the wind seemed to come from every direction. It was a very lonely finish to the race. Finally just as I was starting my final lap I got caught and lapped by the first guy who went off the front early on. He had stayed away the entire time and the second two chasers had eventually caught him and they rode together to the finish. The race was completely dismantled after that and straggling riders came in one by one.
Overall it was an ok day of racing despite my performance. I rode strong and think if I’d had some different equipment I would have fared a little better. It was a tough race in tough conditions but I’m still waiting for the start of spring and some warmer weather. Next weekend is the first really big race of the year down in Hillsboro, IL. I learned a lot from my first gravel race and am really excited to get out there on the roads next weekend.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Well yesterday I officially kicked off the fundraising effort for my ride around Lake Michigan to support World Bicycle Relief all through the power of bikes! I'm so excited to get this going even though the weather is cruddy and it seems like riding season is very far away.
WBR has been generous enough to offer a free t-shirt to the first person to donate an entire bike and get that goose egg off the board! There will be all sorts of other cool stuff going on this year to help raise money for WBR so don't wait donate now!
|Free t-shirt to the first person to donate an entire bike!|
Friday, March 1, 2013
Last year I set off on a bold and ambitious journey to ride my bike around Lake Michigan in 10 days. At the time I was unsure about a lot of things including if I could even do it. There was not much precedent for doing such a thing so I was pretty much on my own in all respects including: Planning, nutrition, supplies, and even finding a route. The two main goals of the ride last year were to raise money for World Bicycle Relief and make it all the way around. Thankfully I was able to accomplish both!
2013 is a new year a I'm even more excited to take on this journey once again. I am thankful to have a number of new sponsors who will help promote my ride and awareness for WBR along the way. The ride will also be a little different this year in that I will be encouraging more participation along the way in the form of group rides and even additional partners for a day or two. One thing is for sure this year is going to be bigger and better than last year.
My financial for World Bicycle Relief is also bigger and better this year. Last year I was so blown away by everyone's generosity that we were able to quadruple the original financial goal. This year I'm thinking even bigger and more ambitious... $10,000. But, to achieve this I'm going to need a whole lot of help. Please visit my sponsors websites and check back here at my blog for up to date information on the trip.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
This post is the first of what will be a compilation of details on my Lake Michigan Circle Tour. I wrote this mainly for myself so that I could remember everything even when I'm a senile old man of 102. But in case anyone is interested in some of the finer details and happenings of my trip you might enjoy reading about it. I'll call it a "Behind the Scenes" look at how it all came together and how it almost didn't happen at all. What it REALLY felt like... the good, bad, and ugly of the 10 days I spent on the road.
Not all of it is interesting but its from the heart and its how I felt or was feeling at the time. It's funny that as time passes the memory seems to forget the hard parts and only focus on the overall accomplishment. So sit back and relax and enjoy the trip.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I first got the idea to ride the Lake Michigan Circle Tour back in 2010 when riding my normal training routes along the Chicago lakefront and north on Sheridan Rd. My commute to work takes me along Highway 41 which is Lake Shore Drive and on the weekends I typically will go north along Sheridan Road which runs north all the way to Wisconsin. During these rides I would see the green highway signs for the Lake Michigan Circle tour. I did a bit of research online and saw that this was a pre mapped route that went not just through Illinois but Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana circumventing the entire perimeter of the lake. I started thinking about how long it would take and if it would be possible to do it on a bike.
I started by mapping exactly how many miles it was around the lake. I assumed a travel distance of about 100 miles per day and from my door went north to Milwaukee which was about 100 miles. I continued around stopping at the nearest town to the 100 mile daily limit and determined that the entire route was just about 950 miles. Doing the math I figured I would need a minimum of 10 days to complete the trip. This minor bit of planning was all the further I would take it until the summer of 2012. The idea was always stuck in my head but it seemed like such a daunting task that it was really no more than a dream at this time.
At the beginning of the racing season in 2012 I was working with a guy and got to talking about doing this epic ride later in the year. Once he was on board my planning really took off. I did a thorough and detailed mapping of the route and determined the exact towns where I would stay at the end of each day. This took quite a bit of time because I was following routes that would avoid major highways but also follow scenic trails and also the contours of the lake. As I got closer and closer to an actual route the miles crept up closer to 1,000.
As the route got more developed I started seeing that the daily mileage would exceed 100 on some days while others would be quite shy of 100. To minimize my stays in hotels I tried to stay with friends and family as much as I could. My wife’s Aunt and Uncle live in Harbor Springs Michigan while my Aunt lives in Traverse City Michigan. I also have a distant cousin who lives in Holland Michigan. Knowing that I had places to stay in these towns I made sure to make those towns finishing points on the route. Finally I completed the route that would take me around the lake in 10 days. It would start with a short 90 mile day to Milwaukee followed by three back to back 120 mile days to get to Harbor Springs, Michigan. From there there would be two short days before kicking up to 100 mile days to take me home. The final planned route was 975 miles.
The 10 day time frame was really a matter of convenience and a result of remaining vacation time off work. My planned duration allowed to me to take five days of work, using both before and after weekends, as well as the Labor Day holiday, thus giving me ten total days. The downside to this plan was that there were no extra days built in for breakdowns, injury or any other problem that might come up. Having no extra time for delay would mean that I would rely quite a bit on luck to make it around and in the days leading up the trip this became one of my major worries.
In early 2012 just as my plans were really taking off I suffered a major setback. My friend Dan who was planning on doing the trip with me left the company to go work out West. This meant if I was still going to do the trip I’d be doing it solo. Then in July, I suffered a really bad injury while on vacation in Colorado mountain biking. I shattered my collarbone in 5 places and cracked some ribs which required surgery. I was out of work and off the bike the entire month of July. Although, I was able to ride indoors on the trainer my racing season ended and so did the dreams about doing the Lake Michigan Circle Tour.
Towards the end of July, after I had started to heal up a bit I began to think about the rest of the year. I had already put in for the vacation time at work and aside from my partner being gone there was no reason to NOT do the ride… that was, unless I was not cleared by my doctor to ride. I had to wait and be patient during my recovery and decided that I wouldn’t go against his recommendation if he said I could not ride. But I also started to think that if he cleared me to ride I would have about a month to get ready and do it. The next few weeks leading up to my final doctor’s appointment were filled with anticipation. If the x-ray showed that I was healed enough and the doctor cleared me to ride the ride was on!
On August 6 I went back to the doctor for my follow up appointment. He took an x-ray and as he sat there examining it I was holding my breath. He turned around and said everything looked good and gave me the green light to ride outside again and do the trip if I was up for it. I had to ask him again just be sure I heard him correctly and he confirmed that yes I was all healed. I decided right then and there that I was going to go for it. The trip was on. I remember leaving the hospital with this amazing euphoric feeling of excitement and anticipation. The time was right and everything had come together in just the right way making it seem like it was meant to be.