Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rainy view of Mississippi River from Alma control. 165 miles done. 70 ish to go. Rainy pretty steady for last 50 miles.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Big Rivers Classic 1200k starts in the morning. Forecast looks wet.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Big Rivers Classic 1200K

Starting Thursday morning, I am riding the Big Rivers Classic 1200 kilometer permanent with 7 friends. For those of you who don't know, a permanent is a route that is approved by Randonneurs USA for riders to ride at their convenience. The rules are basically the same as for organized brevets but it's more of a personal ride than a recognized event.

Like many of life's great adventures, this one started as a conversation over a good meal and a drink. Last August, myself, Mike Fox and Mark Olsen were driving home after successfully completing the Endless Mountains 1240k in Pennsylvania. Over dinner at a hotel restaurant somewhere in Ohio, we were lamenting the lack of a 1200k in the Midwest. Before we finished eating, we had outlined a plan to design our own route through Minnesota and the Driftless Region of Southwestern Wisconsin.  We brainstormed a list of riders that we would enjoy riding with and had preliminary invites out before we got home.

I was primarily responsible for designing the route and guiding it through the RUSA approval process. I spent several different days driving all over Western Wisconsin and reviewing cue sheets from various rides held in the areas we wanted to traverse. By mid-October, I had the general route concept down.  The route was approved by early January.

After a year of planning and daydreaming about this ride, I am really excited to clip in and start pedalling.  I think the route has a chance to be really top notch. The areas the route passes through, especially those portions in Southwestern Wisconsin, have an abundance of amazing roads with very little traffic. I've always felt that Wisconsin is home to some world-class cycling.  The route will have lots of climbing, but also miles and miles through scenic valleys and coulees. Some particular highlights include a stretch along the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin, climbing the Mindoro Cut, two crossings of the Wisconsin River and a pass-by of Taliesen in Spring Green.

We are planning to start at 5:00am on Thursday, August 28th and have 90 hours to finish the 750 miles. I intend to post updates here and on Twitter like I have for my previous 1200ks.

If you're curious, here is a link to the route map.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Catching Up ... and Looking Ahead

2014 has been a strange cycling year. I got off to a reasonably good start with some early season rides. However, by mid-May I was only getting in one ride most weeks. Fortunately, most weeks the one ride I was able to get in was the Saturday long ride. This pattern held until early July. Although it was an unusual year for me, I was able to have some fun and memorable rides. I was part of a group of Minnesota Randonneurs who traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for what I believe was the state's first brevet. I rode the 300k with Rob Welsh and Gary Bakke. My fitness level definitely wasn't on their level, but they were charitable enough to ride with me. Another highlight was completing the Great Lakes Randonneurs' 400k in late May. GLR resurrected one of my favorite routes ever so I made a point of getting there even though it was a bit of a struggle this year. It's not every midwestern route features a ferry crossing on a brevet!

Since mid-July, I have been able to get serious about training.  I've been able to get in some short, high intensity training rides and some longer brevets and permanents.  All of this training is aimed at this season's big challenge; a homemade 1200k. I am part of a group of rando veterans that designed our own 1200k route that we got approved as a RUSA permanent.  Eight of us are riding it starting August 28th.  Stay tuned for more details.