Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tour de Bago

Hello Runners!,
Today's blog entry is not about running.  I'm sorry to disappoint.  It is instead, about and awesome biking event that I was able to participate in.  After a week of hard training on the track, I decided to cap my week off by doing an 84 mile bike ride around Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin's largest inland lake.  My friend Shawn has organized a ride, the Tour de Bago, for 3 years now.  This year, saw a record number of participants, as the field ballooned to more than 30 riders.

Pre Ride Participant Photo
An early start saw the riders line up for 5+ hours of what was sure to filled with fun, laughter, pain, pain, and sore butts.  We navigated through the streets of downtown Neenah and Menasha, taking up an entire lane in the road.  Cars passed us by, slowing down to get a good look at all the crazy's in lycra.  I volunteered to be DJ and photographer extraordinaire (self given title) for the ride.  With my iPod and small speaker, I blasted inspirational and awesome tunes for 2+ hours until the speaker battery died :(  

I rode the first 15+ miles with Jay, Andy Dobbins, and Zeke when all of a sudden a huge dump truck passed us and Jay tucked in behind.  A veteran distance biker, Jay used the truck as a draft, helping him close the gap to the leading riders.  Andy, Zeke and I... well, we took our time and we took pictures.  You'll see a few below!

Zeke leading the pack in his "Trekked" out gear.
 The ride south was difficult to say the least.  We rode into a 20+mph head wind.  Although we rode using drafting techniques, by this point in the ride most people were down to groups of 4-5 riders.  Our route on the east side of Lake Winnebago took us along part of the High Cliff Triathlon route.  Some of the racers didn't realize we weren't part of the race and yelled at us "no drafting" or "you're riding too close to each other".  At one point, race organizers even drove up beside us and tried to get our group to break apart.  We had to tell them that we weren't part of the race.  After some initial confusion, the race organizers finally seemed to believe we were being truthful and left us alone.  This slight altercation, er... miss-communication made me laugh a bit!  I loved it!
It's Wisconsin, of course we rode past cows!
Riding by the east-side Windmills.

One of my favorite parts of the ride (besides finishing) was riding by the windmills.  There is something majestic yet eerie about riding by these giant power producing machines.  Seeing them littered amongst the rolling farm fields of Wisconsin, touring above all other structures is near jaw-dropping.  

Zeke and Andy tearing up the road!

Jay, Zeke, Shawn, Andy, Andy (me!) at Lake Park in Fond du Lac
 After more than 50 miles on the road, we finally made it to the southern most part of the Lake, Fond du Lac.  We had a short rest stop at Lake Park to rendezvous with other riders, refill water bottles, take in some nutrients, and rest the ol' bottom.  By this point the early morning sun had vanished behind overcast skies.  A few rain showers rolled in, flirting with the notion that we may get drenched on the remainder of the ride.  Fortunately, other than a few sprinkles, we manages to stay rain free.  

Riding along Lake Winnebago along County A in Neenah.
The ride north along the west side of the lake was fast and furious.  Led by our fearless leader, Shawn, a blistering pace was set for the final 35 miles.  Aided by the wind at our backs, we cruised at an average of more than 20mph on the way back, having only averaged 14.1 heading south.  Shawn, Zeke, Jay and I decided to make a quick pit-stop at the Dairy Queen in Oshkosh for a small ice cream, you know, a little treat.  Well as it would happen, my hunger got the best of me and I also ordered a chili-cheese hot dog!  Although I managed to eat the hot dog while riding, I would NOT recommend doing it.  Ever.  Ok, that's not true.  I would recommend it.  It was DELICIOUS!  By this point we had clocked nearly 70 miles and I was needing more calories than just Clif Bars and Gu.

Me with my preferred post-race refreshment, Miller 64.
The final few miles were a breeze... but that's only because we had the wind at our backs.  Riding into the finish line gave me a sense of relief.  Although the ride was enjoyable overall, my legs were tired and my ass was sore.  I should also probably let you know that my longest training ride leading up to the tour was 25 miles.  Riding more than triple the distance was probably not the wisest choice, but a great experience nonetheless.  Of course, having a nice cold beer at the finish line makes it all worth it.  The overall course was about 83 miles and it took around 5 hrs 30 minutes to complete it.  Although my GPS watch battery died at mile 79 so I don't know the exacts.  If you'd like to see the ride route and splits, check out my Garmin Connect site!  Finally, I would like to thank my good friend Zeke for putting together some home-brew, the soon to be world famous Saddle Sore Stout from Ezekiel Brewery.  The ride on Saturday put me at 13 consecutive days of either running or biking, so I've decided that Sunday will be a much needed day of rest before I get back into mile training on Monday.  That's all for tonight, good night and good luck... running that is!

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